Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (09/01/11)

Share
Related Topics


Rant

Well, I'm glad that's over. Last week I had 10 for lunch. It was meant to be a low-key affair, just a few friends and a roast pheasant. What better way to spend a Bank Holiday Monday? But there must be something about the host-guest dynamic that encourages normally well-behaved friends to toss the rulebook out of the window.

It all began to fall apart when two of them turned up half an hour early. Surely there is no single breach of etiquette more passive-aggressive than to ting-a-ling a doorbell when your host is elbow-deep in raw parsnips? OK, so I should have stuck to the dinner party rule of keeping it simple, but pheasants are cheap at this time of year, and I had always wanted to have a go at Elizabeth David's recipe for potato gratin dauphinoise. Then one of them brings a dog, knowing I have a cat. Sure enough, cartoon mayhem ensued. The dog then peed on the carpet. Someone smashed a glass. And we hadn't even sat down to lunch. The good news is that they must have enjoyed themselves, as, eight hours later, we were all still there. The Spectator's agony aunt recently advised a correspondent who dreads dinner parties only to accept lunch invitations, as you can leave after an hour and a half. But, as host, I was trapped. Next time I'll do a tea. What could possibly go wrong over cucumber sandwiches?

Rave

Charles Moore caused a flurry among etiquette-observers when he said he wasn't bothering with Christmas cards any more. What's the point, said the usually fogeyish ex-Telegraph editor, when an email will do? While it's true that sending a card is pointless if you don't have a more meaningful exchange in the subsequent 12 months, his argument sets a dangerous precedent. Because the highlight of my year so far came on Thursday, when I got home to find six handwritten thank-you letters on my doormat. My lunch guests may have behaved badly at the time, but their after-sales service is impeccable. For some things, technology just won't do. All is now forgiven.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Not only is Liz Kendall a shy Tory, but her words are also likely to appeal to racists

Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)