Sunday 17 February 2008

Why didn't I think of that before?

14st 8lb; umpteen units of alcohol and countless calories; 1,447; Porkland [sic].

The highlight of my lunch party yesterday was probably the electrical fire, which filled the kitchen with acrid smoke and produced an impressive black stain on one of my work surfaces, surrounding the molten remains of what had been my fairly new and respectably branded electric kettle. It made me feel much more sympathetic to my next-door neighbour, whose garden shed caught fire in spectacular fashion last summer, after what he claimed to have been a similarly random and inexplicable electrical malfunction. Whisper it ever so softly, but until lunchtime yesterday I had been harbouring an unworthy suspicion that it might have been in some way his fault.

Apart from that, the patés from the defunct farm shop went down exceedingly well, once my guests had got over their double disappointment that I evidently couldn’t be bothered (a) to make them a starter myself; or (b) even to disguise the fact by decanting the bought goods out of their original plastic tubs. I call that honesty. It’s the same approach that’s got me where I am today in the worlds of PR and relationships with women.

At least they were all politely enthusiastic about the main course, which I had gone to the trouble of making. It’s an unusual dish, principally involving pork fillet, avocado pears, a little curry powder and a great deal of cream. The only challenging thing about it, which I re-remember every time I feel the urge to make it, is the complete unobtainability of edible avocado pears in this neck of the woods. The shops either don’t hold with that fancy foreign muck or expect you to have thought about it a couple of weeks in advance so that you can allow time for the bloody things to ripen. Luckily I finally tracked down a couple of suitable specimens in the splendid Longframlington shop of David Carr, one of the few Englishmen who really does understand the art of grocery retailing.

What with all the cream, the butter, the rich patés, the cheese for afters (and the sticky toffee pudding for after-afters, for those who hung around long enough), not to mention the fine assortment of wines, it really was a brilliant way of sabotaging the dietary efforts of my rival in the 2008 Great Weight Loss Challenge, who was one of my guests. On the other hand, it can’t be said to have done my own campaign a powerful lot of good, either. Once again, I’d failed to think things through.

One of my other guests works for the BBC and had to watch the evening’s final of The One and Only out of a sense of professional duty. I don’t even begin to understand the appeal of all these shows devoted to tribute acts. And what exactly is the point of a tribute act imitating someone who is still alive and well and performing himself? We agreed that the most convincing impersonator was the man doing Lionel Richie, but that he wouldn’t win because the Great British Public probably doesn’t care that much for the real Lionel Richie, never mind a counterfeit. And we were right. They went for Dusty Springfield, who at least has the virtue of being dead.

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