Harriet Walker: If we need Pippa to tell us how to party, we really are in a sorry state

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Fall in love with the wrong type of man? There's a book for that. Desperate to stop smoking? Try the magic tome that has even the most ardent of puffers stabbing out their deathsticks on the nearest garden wall. Planning on hosting a party? You'll need Pippa Middleton's new opus, due to be published next year, and reportedly signed with a £400,000 advance this week.

I'm not going to whinge about Middleton abusing her position as sister to one of the most photographed women in the world, and face of everybody's favourite arse. People publish books with far fewer credentials than those – after all, Katie Price has written four autobiographies and a stable maintenance guide. Pippa has been the face of her parents' company, that bloodcurdlingly déclassé poke in the Royal Family's eye "Party Pieces", for a while now, so one should hope that all those years spent hauling balloons and bunting around the stockroom have paid off with a knowledge of the rites of partying so in-depth it makes the Marchesa Casati look like a wallflower.

No, I baulk slightly at the many cultural assumptions that come with this commission: first, that people are still hosting parties as the financial apocalypse really digs its claws in; second, that those still hosting parties would want them to be anything like Pippa's; and third, that the Great British public are incapable of hosting their own parties.

We invented the party – granted, along with the Visigoths. We know how to party better than anyone else in the world – just look at the gutters of Manchester and Magaluf. What does Pippa have to add? Some parlour games and a squirt of Chantilly cream? Oh, please.

This book speaks of a wider social conservatism that is gradually and insidiously sapping the fun out of everyday life – and I don't speak of battening down the hatches and tightening belts in the calm before the Stock Exchange's next storm. I speak of the sudden frenzy for cupcakes and handicraft and party planning, as if we don't have anything else to think about like so many Mitford heroines. Actually, even they wouldn't have stooped to planning their own parties along the lines Pippa suggests.

It's all so... naff, and so far from heartfelt. It's so nakedly aspirational and pathetic. We've become a nation of Hyacinth Buckets.

We've relinquished all control of our own lives. There's a book that helps us do everything, but with a little less imagination. We can't make choices any more. Unless there's a celebrity endorsement, we don't trust our judgement. Feudal? It's farcical that we can only sing Happy Birthday in the key of the future king's sister-in-law. I for one shall sound a note of dissent.

At least fashion behaves as if there's a tomorrow

The Chancellor's pre-budget report may be gloomy but the fashion industry made some statements of its own yesterday, too, and the forecast is far from funereal. Not only will the new year see a new edition of Vogue in the Netherlands, it also marks the sartorial equinox of shoppers sleeping on pavements again to get hold of yet another designer collaboration from Swedish chain H&M. "Growth!" I trilled.

The release of a capsule by Italian label Marni in March is as comforting a sign as the Chancellor personally handing out free chocolate and gold ingots: it means somewhere, somebody has faith that life can continue as normal and that those discerning enough will come out to buy the high street renderings of Consuelo Castiglione's sweetly barmy designs.

My life almost disintegrated in front of me when I heard Sir Philip Green, king of Topshop, may have to close 260 shops across his empire. When it hits things you care about, you realise the recession's tidal wave isn't something you can get away from by just paddling away to the shallows. But these latest announcements will help me pretend it is.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links