I really dislike dinner parties. No, I hate them. They're too formal and they make me feel very uncomfortable. I would prefer to have my tea at home and then meet the couples down the pub for a few drinks, a far more relaxed environment where conversation could flow naturally and you can wander around the pub at will, disappearing off to the loo if you get stuck in a boring conversation.
I just don't know how to behave at other people's dinner tables. I always feel like I'm pinned to the chair with a spotlight on me (imagine the set of Mastermind). Something as simple as how to hold cutlery becomes a stressful ordeal, and just how far down the stem of a wine glass should you hold without it becoming precariously top heavy? Do my nails look clean? Am I chewing too loudly?
This amount of social etiquette does not equal fun for me.
Saturday's dinner did not start well. First I fell off the side of my shoe. I really can't walk in high heels. Or stand, it turns out. As I stumbled a big splash of red wine sloshed all over the pristine white tiled floor.
To add to my dismay, moments later their King Charles Spaniel came padding in and immediately jumped up at my dress and started sniffing my crotch. I had to nudge her away with my knee whilst pretending to be delighted to see her. The stupid snatch sniffing mutt.
Our host Olivia whisked the dog up into her arms, from where she started trying to lick me. "She's so cute" I fakely enthused and planted a big kiss on top of her soft white head. A big red lipstick kiss. A big red lipstick kiss on her snowy white furry head. That would not come off, no matter how much I tried to rub it. I stained the dog with my lipstick. And then I smeared it all over her head whilst trying to get it off. Olivia stiffly laughed the incident off, but I could see that she was not happy. I was mortified.
The now red headed dog safely shut into the conservatory, we took our places at the table. The conversation that usually crops up first on a night out in my world, is who is looking after your kids, how much are you shelling out per hour and let's get to the bar quickly as time's-a-ticking.
Maz and Adrian and our hosts Jeremy and Olivia both have live-in nannies. Olivia explained that whilst they were living in Hong Kong, they had a Filipino helper who lived in a room the size of a toilet and was paid £5 a week to cook, clean, shop and look after their children. They got so used to her help that they simply couldn't imagine life without live-in help now. So they have Marzena, a Polish girl.
"She's so wonderful that we can come in from work and say hello and goodnight to the children then disappear out again to have a coffee together and a catch up together." bragged Jeremy.
Meanwhile, the poor cow Marzena makes the kids' tea, washes them and gets them into bed. Then she makes dinner for the adults and disappears out the way to her room as soon as they return to eat it.
I don't get this style of parenting. Why bother having children? Not even Mary Poppins did all that. Not to mention poor exploited Marzena, who probably has family of her own to look after in Poland who she'd been forced to leave with a relative so she could look after some idiot, selfish, lazy-arsed British woman's kids.
Then to top it all off, Maz and Adrian agreed that they couldn't do a thing without their Czech live-in nanny Pippa. Horror of horrors they revealed that Pippa was expecting her own baby with her English boyfriend. They said that they were so desperate not to lose Pippa, that they'd hired her her own nanny!
The fantastic thing about having a baby sitter who has her own home to go to, is you have a fabulous excuse to leave the party early.
Living in a dream cottage in a country village isn't the dream I thought it would be. Trying to fit in is a full time job. I confess the secrets of mothers in middle class suburbia. Some amusing, some shocking, all true.
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