I have only just learned how to cook in the last year. Before that my diet mainly consisted of breakfast food, toast and cereal, at all hours of the day and night. I’m by no means a domestic goddess but I now have a few basic recipes that I can cook without burning my house down, which is definitely progress. I have invited a couple of people around for dinner in recent weeks and managed not to poison them so I feel that I am now truly an adult and a fully fledged dinner party is on the cards (maybe in 2012).
In a fantasy world where I can cook three courses for six people and invite whoever I like, my first dinner party would have to be given for my favourite characters from books.
1. Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
He certainly makes the perfect host (I’d love to go to this party) but I’m pretty sure Jay Gatsby would make a very good guest as well. He’d arrive in a perfectly tailored tuxedo with a magnum of the finest champagne under his arm. He’d make sparkling witty conversation, be adept at putting others at their ease, and be just mysterious enough to pique everybody’s interest. And of course he’d be very very handsome, which always helps.
2. Agatha Runcible – Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
Agatha Runcible is a minor character in Evelyn Waugh’s seminal novel about 1920s London but she almost steals the show from the main protagonists. Agatha is a hedonistic socialite, first to arrive at a party and last to leave, and her endearing eccentricities turn into actual madness as the book progresses. She gives a party from her room in a mental hospital towards the end of the book. Atta girl Agatha!
3. Raoul Duke – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
No doubt he’d be a problematic guest. He’d arrive late, drooling, having demonic hallucinations and making no sense whatsoever. But I’m fairly adept at talking people out of bad trips (don’t ask) and so I reckon I’d calm him down in time for the main course. Then I’m sure he’d be great company – insightful, hilarious, politically aware, sharp and just crazy enough to keep me entertained.
4. Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
She’d have every man at the table wrapped around her little finger and I wouldn’t get a look in, however I’d love to meet Scarlett O’Hara. She’s the epitome of femininity, yet has great inner strength and self belief, unusual for a woman of her day. She is more savvy, a better businesswoman, and more ambitious than most of the men in the book, all of whom would lay down their lives for her. She is an eternal optimist (“tomorrow is another day”) and even at the end of the book when Rhett has forsaken her, she still doesn’t admit defeat. Scarlett was a feminist before the term was invented. Plus, I’d like to see what a sixteen inch waist looks like in real life.
5. Seymour Glass – A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger.
The fictional Glass family who populate many of Salinger’s short stories are fascinating but none more so than the eldest, Seymour. Seymour was a brilliant intellectual and was a professor at Columbia University aged just 20. He then went to fight in World War II and the experience scarred him so badly that he committed suicide aged 31. I first read Salinger in my late teens and I fell in love with Seymour. He absolutely breaks my heart. I’m inviting Seymour as a date for me – I think his rather silly wife didn’t understand or help him at all and in fact I would be much more suitable!
6. Aslan – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
One of my life’s ambitions is to hug a lion. Lions have been my favourite animals since I was a child and I often have dreams about them. I know that it’s an ambition I’ll never get to fulfill so inviting Aslan to my fantasy dinner party is the only way to make it come true. In fairness, a lion who is supposed to be an allegorical representation of Christ probably wouldn’t bite my head off. Besides a talking lion is bound to improve any gathering, right?