After months of inviting Lillibet (Alpha-mum’s first born super child) to suppers consisting of only organic produce and glass bottled water, I have finally achieved an invitation to the “Mother’s Book Club”…
…a monthly, literary brown-nosing affair, but arch-nemesis Veronica (mother of soon to be Oxford graduate at the age of 10, Humphrey, and winner of the egg and spoon race under rather dubious circumstances) is a member and, quite frankly, I desperately want to see the inside of her house. I can’t believe my luck as this month she is hosting. However she has chosen the book, some Nobel prize-winning drivel which I’ve not read as I’ve been finishing off the latest Cecilia Aherne, so like I often do with my eyeliner I’m going to have to wing it.
I dress carefully for the specified Thursday evening in cashmere and pearls and arrive with the book…
…(I’ve been opening and closing it all day so the spine is cracked and turning over pages at suitable intervals so it looks as if I’ve read it and occasionally kicking it round the kitchen). I’ve been asked to bring a bottle too so I go with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc which after careful checking does not bear the branding of any supermarket.
Veronica greets me at the door, the perfect hostess, and we air kiss before she leads me into the kitchen where everyone is congregating with wine and nibbles.
She has laid out a spread worthy of a Michelin star restaurant and Humphrey is serving on silver platters wearing a small tuxedo. I begin to wonder if I should feign a migraine and get the hell out. I’ve achieved my objective, I have “cased the joint” so to speak – Veronica has an Aga, but surprisingly I recognise her plates are from Tesco (mine are John Lewis so I feel a sense of satisfaction). On a trip to the cloakroom I also discover she’s only got Bayliss & Harding hand wash so she’s certainly not as high-end as she thinks; not even quilted toilet tissue and the label on the hand towel says “Dunelm Mill”.
I drink the glass of Prosecco I was handed upon arrival rather quickly and I’m politely chatting away to Constance and Jules about the perils of quinoa when Veronica exclaims it’s time to move through to the drawing room.
At this point everyone is a little tipsy and I don’t think for one minute we’ll be discussing the book; we’ll no doubt be conversing about the “elephant in the room” (Caroline, who is absent, is said to be suffering a nervous breakdown as her offspring, Celia failed her cello exam). However we take our seats and Veronica glibly gives a synopsis of the book which I don’t really take in as a) I’m now pissed and b) I just thought this was an excuse to drink and gossip; I didn’t envision we were actually going to discuss the book. All of a sudden everyone goes from slightly tipsy to deadly serious as if Jane Austen herself has walked into the room on the arm of Geoffrey Chaucer. Veronica finishes her synopsis then turns to me and asks, “what do you think the central character brings to the story?” I look around, desperate for someone to help me, but no-one will look me in the eye. In the end I fix Veronica with a steely glare and exclaim, “oh shut the FUCK up,” and promptly exit the drawing room, knocking a cheap vase off the sideboard with my handbag.
Emma Deeley for Pf Magazine