Of dinner parties and other horrors

This chap is showing all the signs of early chronic curmudgeonry:

The dreadful evening of overcooked trout and awful silences that put me off dinner parties for life 

Before we even start, hover over the link and look at the url. The DM has put this in the section called Debate. This is precisely Chomsky’s point:

chomsky debate

So there are two things running through the mind – one is about dinner parties and the other about the limiting of debate and enforcing of consensus.

Let’s do the latter first.  Here is a letter I got from YouGov this morning:

Dear YouGov member,

Voters usually relish the chance to give politicians a kicking. To put it mildly, they are not the most trusted or well-liked group in society. So it somewhat surprised us here at YouGov that, despite a disastrous week for David Cameron, with wall-to-wall coverage of his personal financial arrangements, people tend to conclude that he hasn’t really done anything wrong.

This will be a welcome moment of good news for the prime minister after his personal approval ratings took a dive – they are now below even Jeremy Corbyn’s. This has much more to do with Europe than his tax affairs: a whole swathe of Conservatives have gone off him as they see him as on the wrong side of the argument on the upcoming EU referendum. (Still polling roughly neck and neck by the way, with all to play for…)

In other news, in a sign of the rapidly changing beliefs of people in Britain, more people now believe in ghosts than a creator, and more people believe in fate and destiny than either heaven or souls. For an apparently majority Christian country, most people’s beliefs are not particularly Christian.

And as YouGov was the first to show over in the US, Donald Trump is still in the lead in the race to be the Republican nominee. Not that they have a vote, but Europeans are horrified by the prospect, and are almost universally hoping that Hillary makes it all the way.

Many thanks for taking part and making your views count.

Freddie Sayers

Not one word has been either added or deleted from that.

People tend to conclude” – really, which people are those then?

Donald Trump is still in the lead in the race to be the Republican nominee. Not that they have a vote, but Europeans are horrified by the prospect” – really, are we?

It’s going to depend on which side of the ledger you are. If you are like the banksters, all three feted Westminster parties, the UN, EU, multinationals,SJWs and so on, YouGov too, then Trump is horrifying. If you’re like the middle class in these nations plus many of the blue collar, then your view is diametrically opposite.

However, that’s not the point, is it? The point is that a govt agency which is meant to be non-party political has made quite political statements that a substantial section of the population disagree with. Thus, when I tick the UKIP box in the survey, I am then not sent political surveys for months. Instead I get questions about coffee machines.

And the chutzpah is that YouGov, typical of all the others, including Dodgy’s booklet, think this is all perfectly acceptable and ethical in today’s public sphere.

Dinner parties


Whenever I hear or read those chilling words ‘dinner party’, my mind flashes back to a remark one of our guests made at a grim evening we hosted as newlyweds in the early Eighties.

To impress my young bride, I’d invited Dominic Grieve, whom I’d known slightly at school.

True, he was not yet an MP, and his ascent to ministerial office as Attorney General was a long way ahead of him.

But he was already a hotshot lawyer, with avowed political ambitions, much spoken of in informed circles as the Coming Man.

The evening was not going well. Two of our other guests had arrived very late, which meant that the fancy trout dish my wife had slaved over for the starter was disgustingly overcooked, with the consistency of glue.

The conversation was just as sticky.

Sigh. We go through chronological “belts”, do we not?  There is the one when all your friends have their 21sts [yes, I know, I know], then come the stag and hen parties and the first round of weddings and then the horror of married life when she ceases having eyes for you and now it’s all business – go here, do that, and later – oh I’m too tired for that!

And part of that is the dinner party. Personally, there are grounds for divorce before going any further. And whom does one invite?  Fine if it’s works related – one just grits the teeth and goes through with it, they have to be got through, do they not? They’re meant to be grim and if something happens which makes it less so, well that’s a bonus.

No, it’s the ones involving her friends, his friends – they’re the worst. I’ve posted a few times a piece by Stephen Pollard on New Year’s Eve and how he detests it, refuses to join congas and all stand about in a circle.

Because it’s so artificial. Because it’s enforced pleasure, it’s grit the teeth and insist you’re having a wonderful time.

It’s the people too. If anyone had come late to my wife’s dinner party, then just in case, during the pre-drinks, I’d have gone around the house, disconnected the buzzers, disconnected the phone and would have made sure the dinner was in the conservatory or some back area, impervious to the cries from the front door.

Or else my wife would serve the trout on time and to hell with any latecomer.

The art, of course, is to pair possible speaking partners for the evening, not one’s spouse, that is – two people who may be of interest to one another.

But even then they bring their personal habits with them. This next is not so much a dinner party but a camp – can’t remember why we were all there in the forest in huts but we were and one of them, a Greenie with a capital G, had already been a pain with his views.

Don’t remember a lot about the evening before but next morning, he came out of his hut in full forest kit – short shorts, hairy feet in sandals and wearing a gym training singlet so when he stretched and took in the whole forest [being there for his pleasure alone of course], we got the full hairy armpits early morning. He was a tall man, about 6’5″ and he dominated a space. So did his aroma.

That was the day I swore off communal pleasures, so you can count me out of your orgies.

This attitude loses one wives and gfs, it does not make one popular, as do not one’s political opinions of the “let ’em burn” variety.

But two things above all – people who insist the communal space is an extension of their domestic habits and the very simple fact that such people are not remotely interested in you, in why you’re there, in your wishing to have some pleasure in the forest as well.

Of course, the opposite applies too – a small dinner party of maybe six, all who get along and know one another or else it’s someone new and he’s on his best behaviour. It is possible to have a good time.

The meal out

Which brings us to the fun of the bill at the end of a communal eat-out, at the restaurant or cafe. I avoid such occasions like the plague.  If I’m forced into one, I pay for myself and my partner only.

Same goes for the rounds game at the pub. Unless you get in early, buying for, say, three, you’ll be up for drinks for eight or nine before you know it.


Then we get to the one who spoils it all. I’m just remembering a time in Blackheath, at the Princess of Wales, where the nachos were good and the beer passable.

We’d done the tables together thing and there was an Isabel Hardman type [of totty fame, not her herself you understand] whom all the boys were salivating over and of course, she was relaxed and in her element. So there she sat, having imbibed too much, spitting out choice remarks at each person not her acolyte and I was on the end of a particular barb.

The idea was that one said nothing and admired her cutting wit, even whilst everyone was laughing along with her stock repertoire.

I narrowed the eyes, leaned towards her and chose to reply, in a quiet voice, with certain observations about herself [the breadth of posteriors may have been mentioned] and surprise surprise, she burst into tears and rushed off. And who was the villain of the piece, the one who spoils things? I cancelled my order at the bar and went to meet up with friends, real friends that was. Actually, a red-headed one.

So sorry – be it dinner parties, meals out, whatever, this blogger is perhaps not the best choice to invite. And decades of curmudgeonry have not made it any better.

Coming back to that scene, I’ve been on the end of barbs hundreds of times, it’s almost rite of passage, ditto on the blog, which brings up a most important point – if they’re people you’ve accepted, are part of, who know the score, then they can say anything they like and it’s not going to be remembered more than a minute.

If it’s people who are ideological enemies, then ditto – it’s water off a duck’s back and the worse they get, the better it is.

But when it’s someone in a social setting, where everyone’s meant to be friends, where you’ve gone along to unwind, that’s when unpleasantness can rebound.  Dinner parties and get-togethers are precisely where the greatest danger is.  Divorces start at dinner parties.

 And on blogs.

9 comments for “Of dinner parties and other horrors

  1. Voice of Reason
    April 15, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    But when you are pretty/good looking, no-one is supposed to make fun any negative comments about you. Isn’t that the rule? In the US, most of the young politicians seem to be picked for their looks, by the way.

    • April 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      But when you are pretty/good looking

      Not a condition I suffered greatly from.

      • Ted Treen
        April 15, 2016 at 8:29 pm

        “…early chronic curmudgeonry…”

        Fortunately this is a condition I have had for some time – although I did work hard to achieve it. Luckily, the powers-that-be have, since the early 1970’s, enormously facilitated that achievement.

      • Voice of Reason
        April 17, 2016 at 12:13 am

        Neither did I.

  2. Hereward Unbowed.
    April 15, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    My dinner party career was ‘curtailed’, luckily enough I was uninvited on frequent occasion, oh joy! Now and again, though, I have to attend – family occasions I can bear such, with stiff upper lip, its indefatigable stoicism at least until, one can and early, politely bid one’s farewells.

    Maybe, because and purposefully at that, I used to drop grenades and leave IEDs in avenues, on the byways of dire conversation – metaphorically……. natch.
    I don’t now – I didn’t fucking care then either, life is too blumin’ well short for PC-liberal-etiquette. As God is my witness, I cannot abide middle class one upmanship, always daggers drawn for Natasha/Gary/Tinkerbell/Olowele/Zulfiqar…. what they laughably term their ‘friends’ and with their ingrained, preposterous, inane hypocrisy.

    Everybody defecates, and it smells no matter how much lavender is strewn around, in the crapper.

  3. Stonyground
    April 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Reading this post made me think of ‘Storm’ by Tim Minchin.


  4. mona
    April 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I wanted to give my comments a rest as I am exhausted by trying to think of clever things to say, but four hundred million Europeans horrified by Trump as President, some mistake surely, they were misquoted, they meant Erdogan that Turkish chap who wants to be European Grand Mufti (President).

  5. April 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks, people.

Comments are closed.