An invitation to dine by Trevor Plumbly

No pressure: just pick four people to invite for dinner. But when you’re a grumpy old bugger, it’s not that easy. To help you choose: there are no restrictions, rich, poor, famous or just ordinary. I don’t want a group of like minds, or an interesting mix for good light conversation; I want people like me, that don’t sit around nodding politely at post-prandial pearls; I want people that love a good bitch about everything they can’t possibly change. So I’ll have no politicians and none of that ‘putting the world right crap’. Cancel Margaret Thatcher – let’s face it, you wouldn’t get trampled in the rush to sit opposite the hand-bagged harridan anyway. Elbow the Archbishop of Canterbury – high church folk always make me feel as if I haven’t tried hard enough. Might as well flag sports personalities – they always look too bloody focused to be very interesting. God I’m getting good at this! At this rate I’ll have the finalists in no time.

No dead people; it’ll feel a bit like cheating. Anyway, I want a bit of a moan, not abject misery. I thought about cinema stars, but I haven’t been to the movies for years, and I don’t know any of this new mob; John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe might turn out to be a bit dated. Journalists? Nah! The latest crop only converse with computers and the television presenters have a sort of spray-on personality that I wouldn’t want round my dinner table anyway.

I’m getting there, just a few more rejects: pop singers have gotta go – it’s unfair I know but sitting opposite Rod Stewart you’d be constantly dreading the old geezer would get up and start screaming ‘Tonight’s the night!’ Bob Dylan? Can’t understand most of his songs, so God knows what his conversation’s like and imagine saying ‘how was your day?’ to Leonard Cohen. You’d end up with the first mass suicide in the street. Artists are too broody, poets too precious and as for authors, who do you pick, J K Rowling, Stephen King or Enid Blyton? Let’s not go there. Christ, I’m running out of punters and if this keeps up, I’ll be eating with criminals and derelicts. It’s getting depressing; maybe I’ll re-think.  But in the meantime, if you’re down the boozer and spot some old geezer mumbling into his pint and chomping on sausages and chips, it’s probably me, dining with my favourite companions.

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