A side effect of our longer stay this season was an invitation to Cécile’s for a new year party. I’ve been avoiding these successfully for 50 years, so it was something of a shock to my system that I was all out of excuses. Frankly, it would have been the dog house for me if I’d refused to go.
Between the four of us (my wife’s brother and his gf being the other two) we had to take a bottle of Champagne, a bottle of red, a canapé of some kind, and a dessert. We arrived at half-eight and immediately fell to the canapés, most of which were irresistible, especially as I was starvin’. Since being on the diet, I’ve usually eaten before 6 p.m., but most nights round here we don’t eat before eight. I always find the finger food at any meal fatal. Here were some mini pasties, here some stuffed baguette, here some deep fried Portugese cod snacks. We were stuffing our faces on this kind of thing for about an hour (see the aftermath above). Frankly, I ate enough for two main meals at home.
The champagne flowed. There were around 22 adults and almost that many bottles of fizz. I had about 6 refills, about three times my normal limit. Then I stopped. My wife got a bit squiffy and wobbly and almost conked out, but recovered. She had time. We sat down to a main meal after 10. There were three tabletop electric grills, and several dishes of meat. The idea was you cooked your own. I didn’t like this idea, as it involved handling raw chicken with the same cutlery you were eating with.
I was sober enough to take sensible precautions. At midnight the teenagers, who’d been having their own party elsewhere, invaded us noisily and sprayed silly string at everyone. There followed a frenzied five minutes or so of cheek kissing. What with the 15 minutes of it when we arrived, and the 15 when we took our leave, I felt there was more than enough cheek kissing for one evening.
The party then settled in for another three hours of boisterous chat. Cheese was consumed around half one. Desserts followed at two. I drifted off to sleep on the couch, but only lightly. I was awake when my brother-in-law announced it was time to leave. From my position on the couch, it had obviously been time to leave about 90 minutes before, but it was four in the morning by the time we left.
You’ll be used to all this. I’m not. I did well for the first four hours, but after that it was torture. In fact, what I’m most desperate for after 10 days overstaying my welcome in someone else’s house, with someone else’s noisy kids running around, is a couple of days of near silence.
We passed the gendarmes on the way home, flagging down drivers to breathalyse them. Quite right, too. My top tip: if your coffee machine is a pod system, get one of your guests to bring a spare. The coffee moment takes too long,otherwise.