The Flustered Hostess


 

So you see that lady up there in the picture in her Brocante-Pink dress and pretty pinny?

See how assured she looks? How well-groomed and organised? She is clearly throwing a party and she is obviously oh so very prepared, calm and not all demented. She is who we should be when our partners take it in to their heads to throw a party that turns out not to be the Engagement party my family convinced themselves it was going to be and is instead just a really, rather lovely shindig complete with my favorite people in all the world. And one or two I really don’t mind at all.

She is who we should be and yet she is so far removed from who I actually was when I found myself feeding fifty people on Sunday afternoon that it would be comical if I hadn’t found the very idea so traumatic, my lips broke into a fright of cold-sores the very next day. A sure sign of stress for this here Alison, if ever there was one.

So yes. We threw a party. It was supposed to be a diddy affair because we do not live in a mansion, but before I knew it I had made a list and was texting our Barbie to describe my fright because there were so many people on the way, even though I am the sort of much flustered hostess who freaks out when she finds herself feeding an extra mouth at the dining room table.

And so it was that I worked myself in to a frenzy. And forgot to dye the halo of grey hair sprouting around my forehead and I worked Ste and the boys to the bone in an effort to have every inch of the house immaculate, and I set up popcorn and sweets tables for the kids and drinks station in the laundry room and the faraway room and bought too many lemons because they looked so pretty on the copper cake stand, and baked cakes till they came out of my ears and made fiddly little wraps on sticks and some extra special egg spread thingy, sliced watermelon, piled strawberries up on a plate with meringues, wrapped prosciutto around asparagus, decanted shop bought dips into terracotta bowls, filled an entire laundry basket with sweets for the many babbas wandering around, shouted at Ste because he said there were no daffodils in the shops and I couldn’t possibly have a party without daffodils (?), and finally threw together a vaguely snazzy outfit and went downstairs to welcome the hordes.

For a while I was borderline mental as I greeted guests and showed kids where the juice was and hugged my family and walked in and out of the crowd gathered in the kitchen usually dragging one of the little ones behind me, forgetting to fetch the ice I had promised people and agreeing to grill chicken burgers someone had brought with her and forgetting almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth. And there was  lovely Vicki who kept telling me to calm down, and Helen who kept re-filling my gin glass, and Ste’s precious Mum, Marg, who sat me down and told me take a breather. And suddenly the food was out and every last morsel eaten and apparently thoroughly enjoyed, and I could breathe again, and chatted with everyone I know one after the other and stole my bestest women away to the bedroom so I could grab five minutes alone with them in a room where I could actually hear.

And then the fire pit was lit and the kids were toasting marshmallows and a certain section of my own society had tipped over way beyond merry and the red wine was flowing and I was suddenly hit by the sheer joy of it all. Laughing with Ste’s brother in law, Glyn who had discovered asparagus for the first time in his 54 years, stroking the puppy my dog-minding Auntie had snuggled in her arms and hugging my Dad while we watched the kids spin around the paving stones on their bellies steered by skate-boards and joie de vivre…

It was lovely. So very, very lovely. But frankly had Ste proposed when I was so completely around the bend  I would have smacked him, so Barbie will have to keep the engagement card she had bought in a preemptive strike, and I can’t agree to making our May-Day party an annual event as my uncle, Steve suggested it should be, but it turns out that Ste and I make a rather good party-throwing team and Stevie loves helping in the kitchen and Finn is great at keeping the little ones entertained and all is well because I survived… and by nine o’clock the next morning the house was spick and span and I hadn’t taken a single photograph to prove how wonderful it was, but that certain section of society aforementioned were sporting bruises after the pair of them took a tumble on the way home and that is I think all the proof we need that the party was a blast.

Sometimes the things we worry ourselves demented about turn out to be all kinds of wonderful and at forty-five I really should start believing I am capable of a whole lot more than I ever give myself credit for. Happy days…