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You’re finally doing it; you’re having a formal dinner party.  The scene is set.  The table is set.  The antique silverware you inherited from your grandmother is gleaming.  The bread rolls are in their wicker basket that has been tastefully lined with a crisp white napkin.  Other items of napery grace the table settings, exquisitely rolled and secured like parchment scrolls containing the very secret of the Sphinx itself.  The wine has been chosen to match the courses to perfection.  All you need worry about now is whether the conversation will flow.  You’re aiming for witty and intelligent, serious without being a total downer.  Debate without argument; spark without a blazing inferno.  If you wish to achieve this, then study the list below.  These are the people you really shouldn’t invite to your next dinner party.


1.                  Ian Curtis, late singer of Joy Division (uh yeah, I know I said ‘late’ but just cut me some slack here).  A very talented lyricist, and a tortured man who shuffled off this mortal coil under very tragic circumstances, but you really wouldn’t want him at your dinner table.  In any piece of footage of him I’ve ever seen, he radiates doom and gloom like a foul miasma, or else he looks like a junkie on the nod.  As you’re passing around the bread rolls, he would sit there going, ‘Love, love will tear us apart, againnnnnzzzzZZZZZZZZZ!’


2.                  Mel Gibson, because he would offend everybody.  A true democrat, he regards everybody with equal bilious contempt.  He has recently offended Jews, women, African-Americans, non-Catholics, Hispanics, and plastic surgeons.  Muslims of the world brace yourselves; you’re next.  Can you imagine the scene?  (Glowering at the person opposite) ‘What you are looking at, you (expletive) kike?  You trying to start something?  You (expletive) kikes start all the wars, you know!’  (Turning to the woman sitting to his right) ‘You’re just asking for trouble, dressing like that, you (expletive).   You deserve to be set on by a pack of (insert racist derogatory term for an ethnicity other than Mel’s own).  Whaddya mean, you’re a nun?  That’s just (expletive)!’  (Turning to the man sitting to his left) ‘Don’t just sit there, ya (expletive) wetback!  Pass the (expletive) pepper, why don’t you?  Too busy thinking about your next (expletive) session with your buddy Castro, are you?’  (To the guests in general) ‘What are you all (expletive) looking at?  Tuck into the (expletive) mushroom risotto, why don’t you?’


3.                  Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights.  Yes, I know he’s a fictional character, but the first character on this list is dead, so again, cut me some slack.  Don’t get me wrong; I love a bodice and bonnet drama as much as anyone.  I love a brooding, tormented anti-hero.  I just don’t want it in the form of a lugubrious, embittered man scowling at my guests and putting them off my lovingly prepared chicken Maryland in vermouth and blackbean sauce, that’s all.


4.                  Gwynneth Paltrow, because she’s a bag of bones with an insipid face, and would put the guests off their dinner.  Also, she wouldn’t eat anything because it would no doubt contradict whatever crackpot food fad she’s following (‘Oh my God!  The olive oil used in the salad dressing wasn’t made with olives grown in a secluded grove in northern Spain where they were fertilised with the dung of a free range cow, then hand-picked by virgins saying the Rosary, before being pressed between the very hands of said virgins!’) 


5.                  Charlene, singer of ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’, for fear she would infuriate everybody with her overblown, whiny, piteous Eighties bloat.  Her rueful mewling about cruising ‘the isle of Greece’ whilst sipping top quality champagne on a yacht is likely to make somebody throw a bread roll at her and snarl, ‘The reason you’re ‘all alone today’ is because you’re boring, nobody cares about your free-love past, the fact that you made love with a priest is incredibly wrong, and Greece isn’t an island, retard!’


6.                  James Blunt.  He’s quite a funny guy in a self-deprecating way.  However, this should be weighed against the alarming possibility that he just might sing, and all the guests would use your best silverware as they each pull a Chopper Read and hack off their own ears.


You’ve been warned, and bon appetit.


© Simone Bailey




Simone Bailey is the author of Calumny while reading Irvine Welsh (Zeus Publications,  Her next novel, Abernethy, has just been released:

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