Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Britain's Loser Culture - Part 1: The Dinner Party

What follows is a series of exchanges with a male friend who is offended by a number of things I have said.

The origins of this was a rant about the unreliability of my female friends, which led to a rant about my male friends, which then became a generalised rant about the way this country is going, with its nation of losers, myself included.

I recently had a dinner party to return the hospitality of a man with whom I had recently had a convivial lunch, whom I hadn't seen for many years.

I was anxious not to give the impression that I was available, and, aware of his Casanova-like characteristics, wished neither to sacrifice my virtue nor disappoint and offend my dinner guest, whose expectations would be understandably heightened if he were the sole guest.

I therefore attempted to invite a both a male and female guest, both single, to make up the numbers.

I had hoped that a local girlfriend (divorced and vegetarian) would come since I already knew she did not go out much, and whose children, being now in secondary school, would be old enough to be left on their own for the evening.

However, she declined, after establishing that the other two guests were not female and that the men in question would be too old and too poor to be worth bothering with, and would be inclined to talk politics all evening.

She did not of course put it that bluntly. Indeed, it was I who in my exasperation said, after she delicately enquired what they were like, that they would be too old and too poor for her tastes, after having it confirmed by her that she could not just come to a dinner at which men were present, without first trying to establish if they were worth bothering with.

There was even a vegetarian option for her, dress was casual smart, so it was hardly a great effort.

Her ostensible excuse was that she could not leave her children on their own for just one evening to put themselves to bed.

Another female friend, who has attended two of my dinner parties, met three different men (but did not kick off a relationship with any of them), made her excuses and said she had to view a kitchen that evening.

Perhaps they both instantly intuited that if they were good husband or boyfriend material that I would have snapped them up for myself, and knew not to waste their time and energy dolling themselves up for, well, nothing apart from food and wine, and an evening talking to men with whom you cannot possibly form a romantic liaison.

I seethed and fumed at this then (about a fortnight ago), and still do.

The dinner went well, I thought, and we all talked politics, all evening.

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