Friday, 27 December 2013


The Tiniest Trefusis, when asked by her friends what her mother does at work, always says 'She goes to parties.' This makes me feel like Bubbles Rothermere, but since the end of November, I've started to believe it might be true. I know it will make me sound appallingly spoilt, since the parties are lavish and imaginative, but now Christmas is nearly here, all I long for is an evening on the sofa and some rubbish telly.

However, by the time parties-for-work cede to the neighbour-and-friends kind, I feel as if I'm short-changing everyone: I can barely bring myself to struggle into my false eyelashes and my liver would rather I drank hemlock than another glass of champagne (though, I note for future reference, the trend in West London is to liven a slightly dull fizz with a slug of Sloe Gin - quite delicious, I recommend it). 

By the time the last party before Christmas arrives, I've also exhausted my small talk: I end up standing next to a vaguely familiar man, who introduces himself by first name only, not that I can hear what it is over the party din, and am too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself. I attempt the usual chit-chat but he's the kind of man who never asks one a question back, which is so peeving at a party - one ends up in interviewer-mode, but without notes, like an ill-prepared journalist, so one quickly gets to  hairdresser-specials like 'where are you thinking of for a holiday this year' and so on. In desperation, aware it's bad form, I ask him what he does for a living  - 'Well, I used to be in politics,' he says, giving me rather a hard stare, which makes me think the reason I know his face is possibly not only because I've seen him in the local Co-Op, 'Really?' I say, floundering madly because what on earth does one say to someone who used to be in politics, particularly after three glasses of SloeGin Fizz, 'Was that, um, fun?' 
'I wouldn't call it fun, exactly, but the Cabinet was quite something, I suppose.' And he gives me the polite smile politicians reserve for really dull constituents, and turns to talk to the man on his right.

I sneak off to the lavatory and google him, which takes less time than I imagine searching for 'Man with grey hair used to be in the Cabinet' might, partly because he was so prominent in parliament I can see why he might expect to be recognised. I think of a few really incisive things to ask him about Syria and fracking and the Global Economy and stuff so I can redeem myself, but by the time I'm back in the room the party has moved on.

Mr Trefusis and I have promised the babysitter - down from his first term reading Physics at University  - not to be very late, so we go home to find the Infant Trefusii still up, sitting cross-legged on the floor with the babysitter, surrounded by pages of diagrams, rapt expressions on their faces. 'They didn't want to go to bed so I've been explaining Escape Velocity to them,' he says as I give him his cash, 'They got the trick question about where gravity is strongest.'

I think I need to go to fewer parties.


Beautiful Things - Cathy said...

Did you ever find out who the man was? x

Alicia Foodycat said...

Is your baby sitter cute? Do you think he would explain escape velocity to me?

Splenderosa said...

Helen, I've only just met you and realize it was cosmic, it had to happen. You are wonderful! I'm following, along with about 1million others and shall read your every new post. Sloe Gin with Champagne intrigues me. xx's from Texas

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a great post holiday story. I would be like you, not knowing who the man was as I never know who celebrities are. And please don't ask about movie titles, either.