Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Party Season

Twice a year, in summer and winter, for about six weeks each time, people in the valley in and around our little town feel the party spirit come upon them. Well, the summer party season is well and truly with us and invitations are coming in thick and fast.

Not all of them are big dos, there are drinks parties, tea parties, select little dinner parties for four, six or eight (rarely more, because nobody nowadays has a dining table, much less a dining room, big enough to seat ten or more), huge outdoor barbecues, where you had better bring a coat against the evening chill and a cushion to sit on - as chairs and benches have been waiting outside all day, they have probably been rained on.

Barbecue fare is best sampled on a full stomach - always eat something at home first!
Chargrilled food can play havoc with your digestion. In order not to look a spoilsport you can always fill your plate with plain boiled rice salad, green lettuce and white bread rolls; both have invariably been available at any barbecue I have ever attended. The other possibility is that your host has forgotten to light the coals in good time - this often happens at barbecues in aid of something or other, where several men are in charge of joint proceedings - which means that you get no food for hours or that your sausages are raw inside.

Drinks parties are slightly more civilized, your considerate hosts have provided room inside, where the guests can take shelter from sudden downpours. This is England, after all, there is usually a shower at least once a day. Drinks parties are noisy affairs, they usually happen before dinner, between six and eight in the evening, unless they are at that ungodly time of Sunday morning, before lunch. There's not much point in finding a seat, everyone is standing around and talking busily; if you are sitting down all that talk happens above your head and you are left out.

Come to think of it, maybe that is not such a bad choice after all. If you choose a nice, comfy seat anywhere near the "nibbles" table you could nick all the juiciest olives and unbroken cheese straws. And have a nap. Drinking before lunch or dinner can be quite hazardous.

Cosiest of all are the tea parties, they are usually held inside; bees and wasps and other insects all love the smell and taste of strawberry cream teas and cakes and scones as much as some humans do and are therefore best excluded.

Tea parties are the preferred option for the older generation; they like to get back to their comfortable sitting rooms in good time for the evening news and maybe a favourite soap opera. Besides, all that starch does make one feel rather drowsy.

This leaves the dinner party, which can last for many hours, until late into the night, if you are lucky or maybe unlucky, depending on how much you are enjoying the occasion. At one recent such party I came home with face cramp from many hours of determined smiling. The hosts themselves are excellent people, who provide delicious food and dispense drink with a liberal hand. The problem was that one of the guests felt obliged to entertain the party, ably encouraged by his wife. All I remember now is a joke the man told:

A barber complained that making a living from cutting hair in these days of the credit crunch
was getting ever more difficult. He was therefore contemplating going into the hedge trimming business as a sideline.

The man swore blind it's a true story. Yes, well.

At another recent dinner party the host read his own poetry and the hostess played Mozart on the piano, followed by Irving Berlin songs which were sung by a lady guest. Actually, you may not believe this, but I really enjoyed that party.

It is rather bad form to accept hospitality and not return it. My turn next.

photo Huub Koch
Beweging 1984


  1. Poetry, Irving Berlin songs and Mozart - why wouldn't you enjoy it? Seriously, though, an interesting post which, you may not believe, I really enjoyed! Thanks!

  2. On the US left coast we went to 3 parties on the 4Th of July, starting at 3 o'clock (wine tasting), followed by outdoor BBQ -- pot luck, followed by indoor/outdoor BBQ -- pot luck. We could have gone to another for fireworks, but around 9 0'clock Jerry feigned illness and we went home. No Mozart, no poetry. But Jerry did have a serious discussion about gravel.

  3. OK, Friko, you're next, so I'll give some advice from the American point of view. Dips and spreads (make sure caviar has a key role), attractive crackers and breads, plastic two-pronged forks and matching paper napkins and plates, and for the drink: I suppose that since our fellow blogger the Sagittarian is from Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, More Canterbury Tales, she is English enough to recommend her post (second down) beverage, the Yellow Bird. Make a few pitchers! Silver ice chests and all that! Cut flowers! Buy the cheeses, etc. and add your own chutney and blended herbs. Seriously, Friko, if you would like some of this type of recipe, just let me know. Bon appetit!

  4. What social butterflies you all are out there. I do good to make one visit a weekend. We would rather do the entertaining than be entertained. Old foggies that is what we are. Our kids do most of the cooking and fixings these days though. Blessings

  5. Eventhough being less than three and a half decades old, would love to join the Tea Party.

  6. I forgot to mention the entertainment! Friko, how about hiring a strolling violinist for the evening? He goes around to different indiviuals, couples, or small groups and asks what they would like him to play. Oh, and dessert! Homemade ice cream, where everyone takes a turn wih the handle? Irish (sorry) coffee?

  7. I’d like to write some comments about partying, but I have not been to a party locally in years. Neighbors are nice but they don’t fraternize and if you don’t attend the local churches, are not a member of the Republican Party (no Democrats around here), no longer work (retired), and your family is in other states, then the social life is zero – but we travel.
    Now I’ll copy what I had posted about pre-dating posts: To pre-date posts - when you are creating a post in the “draft” mode, you go to the bottom of the page, right above the little red tag that says Publish Post, and right above it in blue there is written “Post Options” if you click on it you will see the date on the right-hand side. Go to the date and change it, for example right now it says 7/04/09 and 3:17 PM. You can change the date to, say 7/06/09 at 2:00 PM, and then click on “publish”. It will show that it will publish at the future date and time indicated. Later on if you want to change the date you go into edit and go back to the same Post Options and change the date and time. While I was away I had post-dated 3 posts that way. I hope what I say is clear and let me know if it works for you.

  8. Hallo Friko, Yes, so many different kinds of parties. Love your writing and your observations on life and that image of you snoozing or nibbling away with conversation swirling above (but surely not over!) your head.

  9. Dave - Thanks - do I detect of touch of tease? Love to hear from you.

    20th C Woman - what a wimp, giving up after only three parties. Mind you, talking about gravel can get very heavy.

    Margaret - I think you'd better come over and organize my party. Your ideas are brilliant, but caviar? Do you know what the stuff costs? Haven't found the Sagittarian, where is she? No fiddlers, please, there's already a scraper in this household.

    Queenmothermamaw - Trust me, girl, we are all very happy when we can all become dozy homebodies again.

    Robert - Ehrlich? Sahnetorte gibt's aber nicht.

    Vagabonde - Oh, you do seem to live in a social desert. No wonder you travel.
    Thank you so much for further instructions. I've got as far as the options date settings before but I never knew that you also have to click on publish. I've tried to click on save, which never worked. I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks again. It's good when we help each other.

    Fennie - Thanks so much, I admire your blog too. I am now awaiting formal approval to join the purple coo-ers. Golly, you are a select club! Well, so long as I don't have to perform a party piece....

  10. Hi Friko - Hope the formal approval comes through.

  11. Friko, is the scraper a ukelele player?! (I googled it because I couldn't get your reference above.) Well, there you go! Built-in entertainment! And go with cheeses! I know there's a lot of different varieties in England. The Sagittarian is at I told her you might be coming! Good luck with everything!

  12. Twiglet - Thanks, I hope so too.

    Margaret - Oh you are funny, ukelele? certainly not. the scraper was a very well known orchestral player in the best orchestras in the UK before he retired and he'd hate it if he knew I'm letting the cat out of the bag. This is as much as I'm going to say on the subject.


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