Lisa Markwell: Why I still want people to come dine with me

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

Surveying the dirty dishes and streaky glasses after a midweek dinner party, it would be easy to agree with the YouGov survey announced yesterday that 40 per cent of us can't face the hassle or expense.

After a dash home from work to tidy up and throw together a shepherds pie (I always forget the homespun end result comes from laborious preparation), by 10.30pm I'm wishing my guests would bugger off so I could go to bed. Then there's the clearing up ...

But there's something rather dispiriting about the idea of people across Britain sitting quietly in their kitchens, eating alone, as the age of the dinner party passes into history. Apart from anything else, there's the question of what will happen to the sales of Ferrero Rocher?

Dinner parties – whether formal affairs with placements and tablecloths, cheese courses and decanters – or the more modern embodiment, the "kitchen supper", are the fabric of society. Without them the social discourse disappears. Yes, we can follow our friends on Twitter to catch their witty verdict on The Bridge, and we can see their holiday snaps on Facebook, but there's no satisfactory replacement for actual, you know, conversation; the kind that meanders around from the local book festival to movie gossip to politics.

The cost is a legitimate anxiety. The survey states that the average dinner party costs £60 and most of us hold six of them a year. My own profligacy/show-off tendencies put me at the upper end, I reckon, but there's no doubt that everyone – apart from the most haute of hostesses – is feeling the pinch. My own solution is to use Sunday's leftover roast lamb for the shepherds pie and buy wine when it's on special offer.

I do agree that performance anxiety gets the better of many would-be hosts. With wall-to-wall cookery shows on TV, who'd want to present their pasta with pesto in front of an ardent Great British Menu fan? But those shows are entertainment, not how-to videos. It'd be a very strange guest who expected salmon and caviar rolls with candied celery.

I once met Jamie Oliver and, on my husband's instructions, invited him round for dinner, assuming that no one else does. Sure enough, he says he never does get asked round, because everyone thinks their food isn't good enough. (He never came.)

But that's the point – dinner parties aren't actually about the food at all. It can be a large bowl of Doritos and a jug of mojitos; which is stretching the term dinner party to its limits, I agree. I still want people to Come Dine with Me – not least because my children learnt to converse, which they do brilliantly, by watching the grown-ups at our dinner table.

React Now

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

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam