These days I don’t often get invited to parties and I cannot say I miss this aspect of my social life. I have no real desire to meet new people, my optimal hope is to encounter someone I like but don’t see often.
My reaction to an invitation to the birthday party of my Thai Housekeeper Lin was a surprise. We occasionally have a chat over a glass of wine but I did not see myself as one of her inner circle. Her birthday and party was yesterday.
I even flirted with idea of some cancellation excuse.
Factor in that it was now dark and that her flat happened to be located on the other side of town, I had to make a difficult decision on what to wear and I did not feel up to entering a room facing a group I have never met.
I also thought of that definitive play on suburban manners Abigail’s Party where Mike Leigh portrayed the ruthless hostess insisting on playing her Demis Roussos records to the submissive guests. However I decided that cancellation at this late stage was wrong and pressed on.
I had already contributed to the party with the donation of large haunch of ham from my Xmas hamper and a couple of bottles of Prosecco.
On arrival I did encounter a group I did not know except for Lin’s mother-in-law.
I fell into conversation with a solicitor called Jack whose wife was Thai. His conversation was borderline nosey so I decided to make my answers as uninformative as possible.
I like this type of woman, a bit Bohemian who has no prejudice and gets on well with Lin and her daughter. The Thai women, grouped together one end by the food table, were highly animated, giggling and emitting loud peals of laughter and dancing together.
My philosophy at any party is to stick my ground in this case a comfy armchair. The various Thai women waited on me with food and wine and I began to enjoy myself. At my residence Lin would wear her cleaning garb of pinny and leggings. Nature had been unkind to her as although she has strong facial features one cheek is covered by a mulberry birth mark. This she covered with make up and wore a tight little dress. You might have thought you were in a bar in Bangkok.
The hours passed, the drink flowed, quite a bit down the throat of Jack. I asked him how well his wife of 20 years coped with English life.
I recalled a conversation with Polly my p/a and her best friend Grainne. Grainne and I took the view that young Thai girls were groomed to find a westerner and put under pressure to remit money back to the family. Polly countered that they found the language, weather and culture of the UK difficult and became depressed.
Jack said that he thought his wife would return home. She seemed to him a better option than the care home. Lin expressed the same sentiment of return to the motherland once to me but her daughter aged 12 sees herself as British and has little in common with Thailand.
The good thing about a party is you can leave when you like and by 9-30 I’m thinking of beddy-byes.
Upon request I had removed my shoes and Lin helped me get back into them. Whilst she did this her friend, whom if I heard correctly was called Nit, apologised for her drunken husband’s rudeness. The man looked the type that would take on Ben Stokes outside a night club and when we spoke my nervous system was on alert but I thought it quite unnecessary to apologise. It did highlight a problem of parties, namely that if the drink is free then guests will help themselves liberally.
I took some random photos which revealed another aspect of modern life: the number of guests staring into their mobiles.
Did I enjoy myself and was it worth it? Yes.