Monday, 6 April 2009

dinner party diva

I used to love giving dinner parties. Well, I should say I used to love the idea of giving Martha Stewart perfect dinner parties. Once everyone actually arrived, or maybe even before that - during all the prep - I was too much of a control freak to have a good time. And so I hated them and I think my friends hated me for forcing them to come to my control-freak dinner parties where everything was just about perfect, but no one had a good time. Sorry chaps!

Once I moved to London, though, I seriously chilled out when it came to throwing a party. I adopted an "I don't give a damn" attitude and I certainly wouldn't bother cooking anything, let alone a sit-down three-course meal for 10. Take lots of people, add plenty of booze, a bit of funky dance music and there you have it, a party. Though I later learned, cleaning up a red wine soaked flat the next morning isn't much fun either, so better to do what everyone does and meet up for a night on the town. No more domesticated dinner parties for me - I'm a reformed soul and pleased to say that I haven't lapsed in over three years.

Now going out to dinner, that is another matter altogether, and one which I wholeheartedly endorse. Where is this going, I hear you ask? I was minding my own this afternoon, enjoying an absolutely delicious lunch at Skylon (go, go, go - the food is delicious, the service is perfect, and I could linger over the view for hours) and keeping myself company with May's Esquire. One of the first posts I ever wrote was about Esquire magazine and I still read it regularly. They have a sort of agony aunt sex page where people can "write in" with questions. This month's question was "My girlfriend loves dinner parties. I hate her friends, and when I am with them I begin to hate her. What should I do?" Even though I suspect this is in infringement of twenty or so copyright laws relating to intellectual property, I'm going to reproduce the answer in full below (it's long) because it made me laugh so hard I practically snorted amaretto sour out my nose. It's written by a journalist called Tanya Gold (I now wish I hadn't googled her...) so the powers that be don't think I'm trying to cop the credit.


Ah, the dinner party - the foodie equivalent of the Battle of Ypres, but with little bits of salmon. The first question we must address when dealing with your problem is: what are dinner parties for?

The answer is: they are for spreading evil. Have you seen Omen III? The one where the devil buggers a woman with a perm, to demonstrate satanic intent? Or the Keanu Reeves film with Al Pacino as the devil? Or the Arnold Schwarzenegger film with Gabriel Byrne as the devil?

And what did all these Antichrists have in common? Horns? Tails? Little size-three gnarled feet? No. They all went to dinner parties a lot. Damian Thorn of Omen III looks just like the Gold Blend man. I think he is the Gold Blend man, actually. And so my second question is: how long have you been dating the Antichrist?

Please don't think I judge you. I dated the Antichrist at university and it wasn't that bad. It took me to the Taj Mahal for a curry and gave me at least a third of an orgasm.

But enough of me. Dinner parties were invented solely for upper-middle-class people to show off to each other, while pretending to be friends. It goes like this:

"I earned £4m on my way back from the loo, Martin. Why do you have black toilet paper?"

"Nice bottle of white burgundy, Alan. My wife saw the black toilet paper advertised in Wallpaper* magazine."

"It's a chablis, actually, Martin."

"Oh, I thought it was a white burgundy, Alan, because I spent £9,000 on a bottle of white burgundy 10 minutes ago, and it tasted just like this."

"Oh, Martin, you should consider doing a wine-tasting course at Sotheby's so you sound more affluent and less stupid. Fiona and I did one last year and it was so interesting that we completely forgot that we hate each other and that the last time she gave me a blowjob that was not in exchange for jewellery was in 1986."

I can think of three reasons why your girlfriend likes them. Possibility 1. She is bulimic and like to eat in public, so people don't realise she is bulimic. As in, "I saw Poppy at a dinner party last week! She can't possibly be bulimic!" "Oh no! We will have to think of something else to talk about!"

"Oh no! I had to fire my conversation guru, as well as the man who styles my logs, due to the credit crunch!"

"How about, is your child more likely to be strangled by a Cornish paedophile with funny eyes or run over by its father driving a BMW X5?"

"Do you know anyone who styles flattened child corpses?"

"No! Yes! Yes, I do!"

Possibility 2. Your girlfriend is stupid and facile and believes that lying about opera is fun.

Possibility 3. Antichrist. Sorry. I really am. (I'm really not.) I'm sure the children will get into Westminster anyway and plastic surgeons can do incredible things with horns and little size-three gnarled feet these days. It may even start a trend.

Solutions? If the answer is 1, you need a shrink. To catch one, stand outside Tesco in Hampstead High Street for 1.8 seconds and one will walk past. You wil recognise it because it is 86 years old and wearing ripped Levi's 501s and a tight T-shirt. It is about to join a 25-year-old blonde woman with an Electra complex in a bright red Jaguar XJS convertable for a dirty weekend. When it is back, and has confessed to its wife, it will sit in its Harley Street consulting room and write your girlfriend prescriptions, so she can shrug off bulimia and become addicted to pharmaceuticals.

If the answer is 3, however, you need an exorcist. Check out the Tatler Society Exorcist Supplement. Some of them use Theo Fennell candlesticks, and are recommended by the Pope.

If, however, the answer is 2, you should cure her yourself. I would suggest you dump her for being a dinner-party-loving-slut-imbecile-retard-whore, who wants to waste good shagging time on passive-aggressive conversation, but I suggested that last month and I don't want to repeat myself because Esquire might not pay me. So. How to cure her?

Um. I'm thinking. This is the bit where I give proper advice. So I'm thinking. Umm. Must get a biscuit. Ummm. Must have a wank. Ummmm. Must wipe the kitchen with an anti-bacterial wipe. Ummmm. Thinking. Thinking. Tanya is thinking. Thinking. I have it! I think you should make her watch Feed, a 2005 horror film where a serial killer feeds obese women the liquid fat of obese women he's just killed, through a straw. He finds a fat woman, feeds her fat, she dies of fatness, and he feeds her fat to the next fat woman. Etcetera. If she doesn't take the hint, re-enact the movie for leisure reasons.

(Okay - so the end is a bit weak - but the rest is marvellous)


Gorilla Bananas said...

The problem isn't dinner parties, the problem is trying to socialise with people you don't like enough. True friends don't have dinner parties, they just hang out. Do you think the Beatles had dinner parties with each other?

Phoenicia said...

Come on, let me have a little fun!

But still, having been there myself - I have to disagree with you. Even though I invited people I liked to my dinner parties (whether they liked me is, I suppose, another question indeed), but was so obsessed with the idea of what this dinner party ought to be like, that it wasn't very fun. It's like weddings - sure, there isn't anything wrong with the idea in principle, but women inevitably go bridezilla trying to make everything just so. Better to, as you say, just hang out.

Anonymous said...

I thought the end of the article was quite funny.

The fabric of society is moulded or destroyed at a dinner party where food and ideas are consumed in tandem. This is why the upper middle class have recognised it as ground zero for defending the status quo while genuine anarchists are working hard there for a future utopia.

While we are simply having a 'hang out', the world will be made or destroyed in our absence.

Anonymous said...

My first shot would be the eternal truth that the parties you enjoy most are never your own (assuming you give a fig that your friends have fun, that stress, even at the best party, will always dent the pleasure).
My second would be that if your friends were as pretentious, shallow and up themselves as the article writers mates clearly are... well... after the first party then you would have to welcome it as a Damascene revelation that one's life choices (or at least, friend choices) were a little misguided, or more generously, unlucky. But welcome the revelation and resolve to be happy with nice people! A friend spilling red wine in your flat would at least apologise and attempt to clean it up; albeit clumsily and even ineffectively; but the sentiment would be there!
And my third would be to suggest that most people like parties and will have fun whatever (those that don't like parties are also fine... but how many of those have the decency to say they'd rather not come, don't need to meet new people, but would happily meet up for a coffee without all the late night hassle?) Stress these types outside their comfort zones and (if you know them well) only blame yourself for their otherwise uncharacteristic ultra defensive - insecurity inspired - reactions.
Won't sign into Google's data trawling, but am Charles