Wednesday, 13 August 2014
I Want Dogs' Ears, Please
Last weekend we went to a dinner party, that high point of social interaction. Yes, there are still people who invite us; in case you are wondering why, I keep this blog secret. You know my general opinion of parties and social events, but some dinner parties are great. This one was. A group of bright, clever, articulate people assembled round the table in a convivial house, I really don’t know how we got through the IQ security gates; a temporary wand malfunction? There was a real life published literary novelist (not like so many of us blog scribblers calling ourselves writers when all we do is pen blogposts of questionable quality - yes, you in high dudgeon over there, I am including myself). There was a painter, again real life, a journalist and writer of academic books, and assorted actors - teachers - singers. All very much real life. And, like I said, us.
A dazzling company. No wonder the host forgot about my food allergy and cooked Coronation Chicken with creme fraiche instead of mayonnaise. He gave somebody who can’t eat red onions a side dish containing lots of them and another guest carefully examined the chicken for bits of mango. Mangoes bring on an asthma attack in him. (Notice that I am handing you an idea for an icebreaker if you ever need one at one of your own lavish parties? Free of charge. Just make the food memorably inedible for a section of the guests and you’re more than halfway to a successful evening. Provide enough quality wine and the guests will be begging you for another chance to be poisoned by you).
But the conversation was great. So was my food in the end. The host magicked me a delicious omelette in the blink of an eye. I was served before the other diners had had access to all the dishes going round.
Getting back to the conversation - the two gentlemen either side of me were extremely adept socially, each spoke to me in turn. Just as it should be. You turn to your partner on your left and then, at a suitable break in the conversation, or when the next course is served, you dazzle the lady on your right. And so on round the table.
I hate it when there are several conversations going on at the same time because I always want to listen to the other one. You could just have four people, of course, but then there wouldn’t be enough different viewpoints. And I admit to liking a rowdy table, particularly as the evening progresses. I noticed that the ladies sitting in the middle didn’t bother with dinner party rules: they just spoke across and to right and left as they pleased. This particular host frequently places me at the top end of the table, thereby putting me at a disadvantage, at least until we are all suitably relaxed and I can lean over, usually into the pudding, to catch what is being discussed at the other end.
This is where dogs’ ears come in. Dogs can swivel their ears independently from each other, helping them to identify and capture sounds from different directions, even pick up sound from far away. They can hear things that haven’t even been said yet. As in thunder, for instance. Mille knows about thunder in the next county when I’m still chewing on the first course and she can hear a doggie biscuit tin rattle while she is deep in conversation (i.e. with her nose up another dog’s bottom) in the field by the river.
Hang about though, I’ve just thought of another, more easily achievable way of not missing out at table: dinner parties with a round table. Then we will all be shouting across at each other! No tops or bottoms involved! In or out of the pudding.