Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Tupperware Syndrome

Leanne is the first hostess to invite me back to run a second party. It's a bit of a haul for me to get out to Woodmansterne in Surrey by train, especially as today there has been a fire near Victoria, and all the trains are running late. But the journey will be a breeze compared to the stress of queueing for the ticket machines at London Bridge station. People barge through the gaps in the queue to get to their platform, and behind me, a man with Tourette's Syndrome keeps making me jump with his sudden primal barks. He also shouts "Minger!" at several women who pass.

It's worth the trip (and the queue) because Leanne and Paul have a syndrome of their own -- they are Tupperware crazy. Check out their box of seals (above) and Leanne's tower of Space Savers, brought over from South Africa (below). It turns out to be an even more successful party than their first, with Leanne and Paul earning £55 in free Tupperware and three items at half-price: that's about £120-worth of Tupperware for about £35. Leanne gives me and some other guests a lift to Purley station, so we can connect with the train back into London. We pass a church with a banner that reads "God Answers Your Knee Mail".

Earlier in the week I take the bus to Old Street to a very smart flat in a converted warehouse. Paul has persuaded his friends who own the flat to let him host a Tupperware party there. It's a fundraiser for The Food Chain, and like the three parties I ran for them last summer, it is great fun and a huge success. With a 20% donation, a raffle for some half-price items, and Gift Aid, they raise almost £250 for the HIV charity, which is a fantastic achievement. One of the guests is visiting from Yorkshire, and hatches a plan to invite me up to run a party for his mum.

I have had some interesting people contacting me recently, for possible projects of mutual benefit. An experimental music group called The Tupperware Party has contacted me via my MySpace page to discuss a possible collaboration, and the performer Timberlina (who I met as Tim at a previous party) has asked if I might offer some Tupperware as a prize in her weekly Bingo night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern pub. I am going to have a game of bingo at the pub this week, and see how it goes.

No shirt, no service

Catching up on the last few weeks....

It's a dark wet night when I travel out to Woodmansterne to deliver Leanne and Paul's Tupperware. On the way home, I am the only person at the station, the driving rain keeping me in the shelter. I am not complaining at all: Leanne and Paul are a lovely couple who hosted a fun party, and they have already booked another one for all the friends they couldn't squeeze into their flat last time.

It's a rare party that I can walk to. But my very near neighbour Richard, who runs Guerilla Gardening, is hosting a Sunday afternoon party at his flat. Everyone will have eaten so we go for a dessert recipe. At home, I test Tupperware's official creme caramel recipe in the microwave, and it doesn't work. Grainy on the outside, not set in the inside. There are alternative instructions for an oven-cooked version and since the Silicone King Form (i.e. loaf tin) is fine in the conventional oven, I decide to do that instead. Only that doesn't work either. Calling Tupperware HQ: your creme caramel recipe doesn't work and made me look a fool. Still, it was a good party, and I didn't have to trundle the kit bag very far. Richard's flatmate Meike blogs about the party, and she generously blamed the failure of the recipe on their oven. I am not so sure.

The catalogue has switched over to the new Spring/Summer 2007 edition, marked by a gathering of Tupperware consultants at the new distribution centre in Woking. Meanwhile I still have a stack of the previous catalogue, so while it still feels like winter in London, I decide to distribute them to South African shops in the Wimbledon area. I have done a couple of parties down there, and noticed how many Saffas live there, and I know from South African customers how popular Tupperware is with them.

I visit two branches of The Savanna and leave catalogues prominently displayed. In the tiny branch near Raynes Park station, I get the full cultural experience by buying a piece of biltong and queueing behind a man with no shirt on. It is an unusually warm March day, but really!