Darling, lovely to see you! (And have you got any jobs going...)

The great media parties of the summer are upon us, and big shots are flaunting their power and influence. By Jane Thynne

By this stage in the summer the mantelpiece of any media person will, of course, be crammed with invitations. But are they the right ones? Are they serious opportunities for networking with major media players in a champagne-soaked atmosphere? Or dog-eared invites to an office barbecue, a Canary Wharf wine bar or a barn dance in Surrey? No matter how much networking is done all year around the water cooler, the summer party is the opportunity for people on all levels to connect on an equal basis.

At least that's the theory. Whilesome executives choose to mingle on a quasi-democratic basis with lowlier staff, more often the summer party is an opportunity subtly (or not so subtly) to emphasise class distinctions. And the prime example of this was the Telegraph's erstwhile "Gentlemen vs players" cricket day, in which executives took on journalists, while female staff sat on the sidelines. Other newspapers stage several parties, graded in importance, or like the Edinburgh TV Festival party, hold a dinner afterwards for the more prestigious guests.

If you do get a hot ticket, the chances are you will have more than one. With the party season so short, many events, such as The Spectator and Sir David Frost's party, tend to coincide. But with job cuts aplenty, it would be unwise to turn down an invitation. A moment's mingling in a London heatwave can be worth a year's emails that say "Let's do lunch." So, have you been invited to the parties that matter? Read on and weep.

HAVE YOU BEEN INVITED? THE BASHES THAT WILL BE HOT THIS SUMMER

The Spectator

Host: Boris Johnson

Venue: Doughty Street

Guest list: Lots of the Shadow Cabinet, plus polemic hacks such as Simon Heffer and Bruce Anderson.

Gossip? The Spectator has provided the lion's share of media gossip for the past year, with the affairs of Boris Johnson and Petronella Wyatt, publisher Kimberly Quinn and David Blunkett, and columnist Rod Liddle and secretary Alicia Monckton. This year's chat will revolve around how long Boris will keep his job, Toby Young's forthcoming play Who's The Daddy? about the Blunkett affair, the future of Dominic Lawson, and the self-immolation of the Tory party.

Food: "Most people are too drunk to notice."

Power rating: 4 (out of 5):

Sir David Frost's summer party

Hosts: Sir David Frost and Lady Frost

Venue: Carlyle Square

Guest list: Celebrities, royals and political heavyweights. Expect to see Baroness Thatcher, Hugh Grant, Jemima Khan, Princess Michael of Kent, Greg Dyke, Andrew Neil, Alastair Campbell and Uri Geller. Ronnie Corbett mingles with Michael Heseltine, Roger Waters and Rod Stewart. Bouncers in the bushes keep out the hoi polloi.

Gossip? "Oh the usual. Who else is there? Will Hugh and Jemima marry? How will Andrew Marr fare on Frostie's show? The Conservative leadership shambles."

Food: Champagne all the way. Most too busy rubbernecking to notice the canapés.

Power rating: 4

Lunch at the Saatchis'

Hosts: Maurice Saatchi and Josephine Hart

Venue: West Sussex

Guest list: Simply the best.The Sunday lunch-time fixture mingles newspaper proprietors with writers, artists, actors and Gettys. Conrad and Barbara Black, Rocco Forte, Michael Green, Lord Evans and Caroline Michel, the Braggs, Bob Geldof, John Bayley, Richard Dawkins, Francis Maude, Dominic Lawson and Rosa Monckton, Eileen Atkins and Emilia Fox. Guests wander the grounds in a daze of admiration.

Gossip? Not really.More likely to discuss science, or poets.

Food: Quenelles of plaice and the finest wines known to man. Later, afternoon tea.

Power rating: 4

Women in Journalism

Host: Eve Pollard

Venue: St Stephen's Club, Westminster

Guest list: Esther Rantzen (below), Georgina Henry, deputy editor of The Guardian, Lindsay Nicholson, editor of Good Housekeeping, Rebekah Wade, editor of The Sun, Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, Sue Ryan, managing editor of The Daily Telegraph, Corinna Honan, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph, Carole Stone.

Gossip? "It should be great this year, with female editors being on the rise. Just look at Sarah Sands."

Food: Man-sized canapés and wine.

Power rating: 3

Portland PR

Host: Tim Allan

Venue: Soho House

Guest list: The former Labour press aide and protégé of Alastair Campbell recently turned down the role of communications director by Tony Blair. But expect plenty of political communication at his party, with high-octane guests such as ministers Tessa Jowell, James Purnell and David Miliband, plus Anji Hunter and Adam Boulton, Liz Lloyd, deputy chief of staff at No 10, and Rachel Whetstone, Michael Howard's assistant.

Gossip? "We're most likely to be talking about the priorities of the third term and the BBC White Paper."

Food: Soho House's finest.

Power rating: 4

The River Café Quiz Night

Hosts: Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray

Venue: River Café

Guest list: Not so much a party, more an intellectual fist fight for alpha people. Makes University Challenge look like Countdown, although Jeremy Paxman is host. Media players pay upwards of £135 for this charity event. Expect Alan Rusbridger, Stephen Fry, Mark Bolland, A N Wilson, Michael Gove, Alan Yentob, John Mortimer, Anna Ford, Francis Wheen, Piers Morgan, Peter Fincham and Nick Hornby, brother of quiz-setter Gill.

Gossip? Who's going to win. Why the winners didn't deserve it.

Food: Prosecco and crushed strawberries, bruschetta, chicken, and chocolate mousse.

Power rating: 4

The Edinburgh TV Festival Party

Host: BBC Scotland, S4C and Festival chair Dawn Airey

Venue: Museum of Scotland

Guest list: Media lowlife such as independent producers and journalists get invited, but the hot ticket is to the after-party dinner upstairs, where movers and shakers discuss the future of the BBC. Last year Lord Falconer unveiled a "camera in courts" trial. Expect Germaine Greer, Ricky Gervais, Sir John Birt, Andy Duncan, Kevin Lygo and Roly Keating.

Gossip? Broadcasting White Paper, analogue switch-off, and - compulsory among broadcasting people - the personality of Sir John Birt.

Food: Snacks for hacks, four courses for bosses.

Power rating: 4

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