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Friday, 24 November 2017

DINNER WITH FRIENDS


I am about to write a scene for my current book in which six people are gathered around a dinner table in extraordinary circumstances. The reader will by now be very familiar with each one of the six, and of course others are missing from the table. The story is building to a climax and these characters have recently undergone experiences which have tested them to their limits. In such circumstances the ‘calm before the storm’ will prompt a diversity of reactions.
How hard is it to enjoy yourself in heartbreaking, difficult or frightening situations? As someone recently bereaved and in a year of losing many members of our close and extended family, and friends too, I find myself comparing my situation to living through a war. My parents’ generation did just this, and my grandmother had three sons caught up in the war overseas. I cannot imagine everyday life for those left at home to worry – or to mourn – and to try living out that worn-out motto: ‘keep calm and carry on’.
Human beings have a wonderful capacity for coping with grief and worry, but I believe they are helped by finding others in similar situations. Moving back to my ‘dinner table’, the six have been drawn into a web of sinister events without choice. This dining experience will be unexpected and tranquil with candlelight and spectacular food. But can two people who disliked each other on sight become reconciled? Will two troubled and fearful souls be fortified enough to draw strength for the forthcoming hiatus? Might one couple passionately in love find a solution to their enforced separation? I’m beginning to sound like the back cover of a trashy novel!

As I begin to plan our annual Christmas lunch, the elephant in the room is the missing person from the gathering this year. Then I begin to consider how much the table has shrunk over the years as other late lamented guests have departed too soon, and a list begins to form.

Enough gloom. I leave you with a question: in Fantasyland, you may host a dinner table for six. Around the table will be you and five others who you would rather dine with than anyone else. They may be living or dead, real or imaginary (fiction). They must be people who will make you laugh, who will stimulate you or simply add quiet support. Who would they be? I know who mine are… but then again, maybe I need to host more than one of these fantasy meals. Enjoy!

13 comments:

  1. I am absolutely enthralled with this idea and am now going through my mental list of invitees. Thank you for this intriguing Friday posting.

    On the other hand, I know how hard this year has been on you all, so send a big hug.

    Now I can't wait to read the next book!

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    1. Thanks so much Ellie. Hugs back, and I hope you can be patient... :)

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  2. This may take some thinking time...

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  3. I'm still thinking...

    It's not as easy as you might imagine. I used to wonder what discs I would take to the desert island in Desert Island Discs and that was somewhat easier than picking five dinner party guests. Perhaps it would be easier if I just chose one at a time?

    So, first one would probably be Sylvia Plath.

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    1. It is difficult, Hugo. I'm still working out guest number 3, and I've been pondering it for a long time! Your first choice is intriguing. Keep thinking! :)

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  4. Still thinking but there's nothing I enjoy more than a good talk about cricket after a nice dinner. So, since I love his voice and I guess he'd have many tales to tell, my second guest would be Bob Willis. Former England captain and fast bowler btw!

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    1. Speaking of cricket... I think I might include the wonderful Brian Johnston who, with Henry Blofeld, have provided me with so much laughter over the years :)

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    2. It was rather tough selecting just one cricketer to be honest Prue. Johnners was in the running as were many others, but Willis has always fascinated me ever since I was a kid. He always seemed to exist in his own bubble and his laconic style of commentary after he retired appealed to me too.
      Anyway...

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  5. My third guest, having thought about it long and hard all day - to the detriment of a short shopping expedition in Tesco's where I ended up with Cream Crackers instead of multigrain Ryvita - is Edwin Hubble.
    I've got to have an astronomer and thought about many but there is an air of mystery about Hubble - no one even knows where he is buried - and without him modern cosmology would not be modern cosmology.

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    1. Having feared you might stray into holding a second dinner just for cricket aficionados Hugo, I love the idea of having an astronomer at the table. Your guest list is fascinating. Sorry to be the cause of a distraction in Tesco!

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  6. My fourth guest involves the merest tad of name dropping, if you'll forgive me.
    I once, many years ago, met Tony Hart and he was the nicest bloke you could ever imagine meeting, famous or not. We had a very brief discussion about various creative matters but he had to rush off and I thought then that I'd love to spend more time talking to him. Sadly too late now, but he's my fourth: Tony Hart.

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    1. Just the name of your fourth guest hurls me back in time, Hugo. I always loved Tony Hart, and he was such a talented artist and presenter. How lucky you are to have met him. He will contribute and add a lovely dimension to your dinner table...

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  7. My fifth and final guest took very little thinking about. It's the author herself, P R Ford.
    It's a slightly strange thing that the internet has brought people, who would probably have never come across each other before, together. I sometimes think back to the days of pen friends but I'm not sure how close the analogy is to today's instant sharing of facts, fun and friendship. So, despite the fact that I've never spoken to you Prue, it seems like a given that I'd cherish the opportunity to sit down around a dinner table and have a right good chin wag. That's assuming we can get a word in edge ways with the other guests around the table of course!

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