Tag Archive | guests

Should children be seen and not heard?

Do you have a small child?  Then it is without doubt the cutest thing that ever graced the earth… in your opinion.

The thing is – and there’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just come out with it – other people probably don’t find your child as endearing as you do.

Hard to believe, I know.  Fact, nevertheless.

Some friends came over recently for Sunday lunch.  As we all sat at the table, they asked how my work was going.  Well, since they asked, I had a rather amusing anecdote to tell…

Only I’d barely started when their six year old daughter – let’s call her Molly – looked me straight in the eye and announced in piping tones that she could count to ten in French.

‘Really?’ I replied.  ‘Clever you.  Anyway, as I was saying about this thing at work…’

But I’d already lost my audience.

‘You got a sticker from Madame Blanche, didn’t you?’ said the mother, gazing dewy-eyed at little Molly.

‘Please can we hear you do that, Molly?’ said the father, head on one side, bowled over by the sheer amazingness of his child.

I know when I’m beaten.  ‘Yes,’ I sighed.  ‘Do let us hear how talented you are, Molly.’

So she did.  And then she sang Frère Jacques and then she recited one of the poems she’d been reading with Daddy at bedtime.  She chattered and performed for the next three hours solid, in fact, her parents melting with adoration, until we finally got rid of them.

My anecdote – and it really was going to be very funny – never did see the light of day.

I’m all for children being seen and heard but, come on, isn’t there a time and a place?

Save the performances for the grandparents.  At a push, the aunts and uncles.  They’re probably as besotted as you are.  The rest of the world, I’m sorry to say, isn’t.

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How not to hold a dinner party

Is it me or are dinner parties a pain in the arse?

I don’t mean going to dinner parties.  Once I’ve come to terms with being parted from my sofa for the night, I’m more than happy to totter off to someone else’s house to be fed and entertained.

The bit I could do without is holding dinner parties.

Some people came to dinner recently.  I’d decided – don’t ask why – to do a Thai banquet.

Preparations started a week earlier with an afternoon in the supermarket.  There were fifteen dishes and sauces to prepare, each requiring an average of twelve ingredients.

For the next few days, I peeled, chopped, grated, ground, mixed, soaked, marinated and fried.  Raw fingered, I crammed everything into the fridge and hoped I’d know what was what on the night.

The day itself and I deep cleaned the house.  I’d read somewhere that carpet stains disappear in dim lighting so I rushed out last minute and bought a job lot of candles.  And a new tablecloth.

7pm arrived and I was a wreck.  I showered, squeezed into my glad rags and necked a G & T to get in the mood.  Feeling suddenly brave and bold, I threw on so much slap that the dog growled when I came downstairs.  At which point the doorbell rang.

How did the evening go?  Well a respectable amount of wine was drunk and there was only one awkward silence (when conversation dried up mid-coconut and galangal soup).

But the food, seriously, was bland.  Everything tasted the same.  And there were so many dishes I couldn’t fit them all onto the table.  The new tablecloth remained hidden.  It was too dark in the candlelight to see anything anyway.  The rice was stone cold.  And the pudding inedible.

Oh, and I got so drunk I only vaguely remember people leaving sensibly at 11.30pm.

The following weekend, we were guests at another dinner party.  Get in there; someone else’s turn.

They answered the door in jeans and jumpers.  Had they forgotten we were coming?

‘Good to see you!’ they cried.  ‘You don’t mind watching the end of the match, do you?  Then we’ll switch off the telly and sort out the food.’

We sank onto their comfy old sofa and they sat on the unhoovered floor.  We ate crisps and chatted with half an eye on the football before moving into the kitchen.  A pile of stuff was cleared off the table and we sat down to jacket potatoes with tuna salad followed by supermarket cheesecake.

The evening ran away with us.  It was 1am before we tumbled out onto the street and made our happy way home.

At last, I’ve seen the light.  I know the secret to dinner party success.  And it’s not a Thai banquet.