It would be fair to say that most of our guests are from a certain demographic, namely upper middle class, and D and I are sometimes left floundering amidst a flurry of cut glass accents and RP.
I periodically read Nancy Mitford before dinner so I know what the hell is going on and am able to offer my own opinion about fox hunting and having SHRIEKINGLY good fun at tennis parties.
However, sporadically someone will turn up who falls outside this category. Sometimes they’re like a breath of fresh air amongst the maritime lawyers, surgeons and hedge funders. And sometimes they’re not. Sometimes the upper classes will remember their manners and include us plebeians in their conversations. Aaaaaand sometimes they won’t.
We’re currently hosting a husband and wife from Australia. The wife weighs four stone and lives off white wine, from which she must draw all her calories. The husband works in mining and smokes 40 cigarettes a day, from which he must draw all his calories.
All the other guests have, how shall I put it, withdrawn from their company somewhat. One couple from America threw a tantrum of frankly epic proportions (more on them in another post) and refused to share a vehicle with the Australians. Luckily the Aussies remained oblivious to this snub and happily stayed on the conversational periphery smoking and drinking, pausing only to swap hands and commence drinking and smoking.
I tired of this social discrimination last night after one of the lawyers had mentioned that she and her husband had moved from London into the countryside and had a couple of animals around the place; a dog, a Shetland pony, a couple of sheep, a sprinkling of chickens etc. Trying desperately to make conversation I asked, “Who’s looking after your sheep whilst you’re away?” The woman looked shocked and said, “Why, our shepherd, of course.”
Oh, of course, your shepherd is looking after your sheep. Fearing to ask who was looking after the pony, I turned my head and caught sight of the Aussies being ignored at the end of the table, taking a rare break from their Olympic Smoking training.
They’ll probably surprise us all, I thought to myself, I bet he has an obsession with Beethoven’s symphonies and she collects Jane Austen first editions. That’ll knock everyone off their snobby perches.
Looking forward to shocking the crowd, I coughed and loudly enquired of the son what he liked to do when he wasn’t drilling mines in Australia. The table fell silent. C’mon, I willed him with all my heart; say something intellectual…
Addressing the table, he announced: “I go pig ‘hunting. I like to ‘unt pigs.”