Alex James: The Great Escape

Note to party organisers: get a big pot
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I had a bit of a razzle-dazzle in Paris a few months back, but I'm not really in the rock and rollers' class anymore. I'm in the husbands'. My wife Claire thought she was going to be in Lincolnshire on her birthday on Saturday, but found out on Friday that she didn't have to go. She wanted to have a party all of a sudden, which is definitely the best way.

How things have changed, party-wise. I bought a very large saucepan. As you get older you need bigger saucepans. Huge cauldrons are one of the really good things about getting older. They're so homely. I also bought a device for making carrots into long thin spirals, which I was very pleased with. It was going well. There was a piano player available who said, yes, he could do all the Bee Gees stuff, 200 quid for three hours, so I snapped him up. A big pot and a pianist. It was a good start. It didn't matter if anyone else came.

My father-in-law manages an Elvis impersonator called Gordon. He loves Elvis, my father-in-law. Gordon had a gig at a 60th birthday in Bristol. On their way, Claire's dad and Gordon dropped Claire's mum off at our house in Oxfordshire.

I showed Gordon my meteorites but Claire was down in the dumps. Her two most reliable party-time girls were meeting their boyfriends' parents, the neighbours were away and the glitterati were going for a curry at Dom Joly's.

It was a fantastic night. Even though we left the saucepan in London by accident, somehow or other the party rose to perfection. There were about 12 of us. Nobody knew each other that well. It was like being at someone else's house. It worked very well though - after all, new friends are the best kind. The girls were giving it serious Streisand by the fire. The boys were in the kitchen talking about far off places when Polly arrived. She wanted to play games.

We played the one with the cards and the spoons, where if you don't grab a spoon you have to take a forfeit out of the bowl. I had to dance with the carpet. Donaldson had to do a Frank Spencer impersonation. Polly helped him out by pretending to be the bus. Then they all went to Polly's and jumped in the pool.

There are a lot of shindigs over the next couple of weeks in London. Awards, openings, premieres, launches and lunches. It's not enough to just be in a room with some famous people, though. We need more games. The more money spent on a party, the less people participate. The more lavish the entertainment, the more the guests worry about making fools of themselves. Behaving stupidly is part of having fun.

It would be better if everyone could enjoy each other. What makes a party great is not who's there or what's happening, it's whether everyone wants to play. I wonder if we'll be able to have a game of hide and seek at the Versace do on Monday.

alexjames@independent.co.uk

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