Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Why haven't I hosted a dinner party before?'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

And so, tomorrow, almost two years to the day since I moved into my flat, I am entertaining in it for the first time. Given that I'm currently plotting its sale, this is something of an irony. Still, better late than never. But why has it taken so long? When I say "entertaining for the first time" I don't, of course, mean that I've never had anyone round. On the contrary: plenty of friends have stopped by for coffee after shopping expeditions, and my living-room sofa is a frequent kipping point for those who can't face the bus home after a night out in east London. I've even cooked for some of these people: home-made pizza, Sunday roast, chocolate brownies, scrambled eggs. But I've not, as yet, entertained anyone in that formal, invite-them-round-in-advance-and-plan-them-a-three-course-meal sense.

This is all set to change on Sunday, when I'm having a group of four over for Sunday lunch chez moi (or possibly chez Victoria Park if the weather proves amenable). And you know what? I'm actually rather looking forward to it. Ever since I booted my messy boyfriend/flatmate out, I've managed to keep the place in a relative state of cleanliness. I know what I'm cooking: salmon, new potatoes, asparagus and hollandaise, salad, plus nibbles to start and some kind of summerish pudding. And, last-minute disasters notwithstanding, it really isn't working out as expensively as I had anticipated. In fact, my groceries budget has yet to reach beyond the normal price of one person's eating out at a moderately priced restaurant – which is exactly what I would spend on most en masse get-togethers anyway. This time, at least, there are no transport costs and my friends have kindly agreed to provide the (highly essential) bottles of rosé.

In fact, looking at my budget for tomorrow, I can't help but wonder why I haven't done this sooner. Surely one of the great pleasures of having a flat is entertaining in it? And, after all, I used to cook for friends all the time as a student – a period when I was far more cash-strapped than I am now. It might have a small something to do with the gaping hole that occupied my bathroom wall for most of last year. Or it could be to do with the frantic marathon preparations and fund-raising that dominated my life between Christmas and Easter. Or, just perhaps, it might have rather a lot to do with my inherent slothfulness. But let's not dwell on that for too long.

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