They say that the wheels of society are significantly greased over three courses. In my relatively limited experience, it’s quite the opposite. For once any initial pleasantries have been dispensed with, the seeds are invariably sown for out-and-out war. Particularly in the arena of the unspoken:
Hostess: Darling, it’s wonderful to see you!
Thanks for filling in.
Me: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been too long!
There’s a reason for that.
Hostess: This is Alex, he’s been dying to meet you.
Alex got here five minutes earlier and I’m bored hearing about his car.
Alex: Our hostess tells me you’re a vegetarian.
I hate you already.
Me: Yes, I’m afraid I’m one of those…difficult ones.
I hate you already.
Alex: Well, you won’t mind if we tuck into a bit of raw flesh, will you? At least it isn’t twitching!
Do you people actually enjoy eating this shit?
Me: Not in the slightest. Horses for courses, I say.
Yes we fucking do. Ever tried it? Thought not.
Alex: Our daughter was a vegetarian once. Talked her out of it, of course. Not much call for rabbit food at Roedean!
Get me as far away from this prick as is humanly possible.
Me: I suppose not. Probably not for rabbits either, come to think of it.
With those three sentences, you have a clear pathway to eternal damnation.
Hostess: Alex is just back from Cuba. I gather it was simply divine.
So pleased they’re getting on.
Alex: Too many foreigners for my liking. Quicker the Yanks get in the better. Clean the place up a bit.
Nearly got the clap.
Me: I’ve heard it’s amazing!
Bet you nearly got the clap.
Hostess: (giggling) I’ve heard it’s quite easy to get the clap out there!
God, I hope it’s thrush.
Alex: So then, how do you make a crust?
My money’s on artist. Looks like one.
Me: I usually conserve and restore wallpaintings and historic buildings. But I’ve just put out my first book as well.
You have no idea what I’m on about, have you?
Alex: Ah, a writer! Tough business, writing. Published?
Me: Self-published. I crowdfunded it last year.
Take a flying guess.
Alex: Good for you.
Hostess: Oh, you must read it, Alex. He’s so clever! And he got all sorts of artists to do pictures for him too!
Still haven’t read it.
Alex: How very creative. Can we get it in the shops?
Me: You can indeed! Or I’ve a few in my bag?
It’s not for you.
Alex: Don’t carry cash, I’m afraid. But do let us know where we can get a copy.
Me: So what do you do, Alex?
Don’t tell me.
Alex: Do? Not a lot these days, to be honest.
Do you have any idea how much time it takes to architect a basement?
Hostess: Shall we go through? I’m famished!
Oh Waitrose, you fickle mistress.
I rest my case.