TOM UTLEY: Whisper it, but there's a happy reason I'm celebrating the rule of six

Always aiming to look on the good side, today I bring your attention to one of the few happy aspects of the ban and the rule of six.

Whilst Whitehall and local government edicts could cripple the economy, put millions of people out of work, use healthcare, make the elderly lonely and ruin the life chances of our youngsters.

But for at least one thing some of us can be grateful: Since March, the rules have eliminated the social nightmare of the bourgeois dinner party. They released us from any responsibility to return past hospitality and gave us the perfect excuse to decline any invitations that might get in our way.

Indeed, the great mystery to me is why anyone would want to actively participate in these gruesome gatherings. But I'll get to Jeremy Corbyn and his friends later.

Always aiming to look on the good side, I'm bringing your attention to one of the few happy aspects of the lockdown and rule of six today (picture in stock).

Oh, how I dreaded this phone call from friends or neighbors: “We have a few people for dinner on Saturday – nothing special – and we would be happy if you both come. There is one couple in particular that we long for. We know you are like a house on fire. «

When I've learned something from experience, the guests we are supposed to adore will immediately reject us and vice versa. They'll say mocking things about my job, go to poor Ms. U about her work for an anti-abortion group, or spend half the evening whining about Brexit (a thing that is close to my heart from that day on , to which we joined what was then billed for the common market).


Either that, or they disgustingly boast about their glamorous Maldives vacation or the dazzling successes of their children. (& # 39; Two of you are still looking for work, right? Poor you! & # 39;)

At the end of the evening, when the wine has done its job on my tongue, I will defend myself with my own thorny remarks or belittle the achievements of the couple's boys. (& # 39; Your boy works for Goldman Sachs, right? Oh, how embarrassing you are. & # 39;)

In the meantime, my wife will be staring at me with daggers, muttering "Shut up, Tom" and furtively glancing at her watch, longing for hands to sneak out at a respectable hour. At one point, I even heard the terrible Donald Trump praise myself, only to piss off a fellow guest who pissed me off.

The only pleasure that arises from these occasions comes later, when Mrs U and I are back home, have a nightcap, mock our fellow guests and laugh at the sheer horror of the evening.

But while it's grim enough to attend a dinner party as a guest, throwing one yourself is worse – which is why we only do it once in a blue moon when the list of people we owe is half a block extends.

Weeks beforehand, Ms. U will begin to agonize over whom to invite and what to give them to eat.

Now I hurry to say that Ms. U is an excellent cook when it comes to producing the good, simple food I love. But one of the annoying rules of the bourgeois dinner party, at least how it interprets it, is that time-tested recipes that have been perfectly honed just don't work.

No, when we have people she insists on giving them something special, which almost always means something she has never cooked before. In short, something has to go wrong.

The closer DP-Day gets, the higher the tension. What will she wear? Should it be something formal, in which case are the guests sure to turn up in sweaters and jeans? Or should she dress up – guaranteeing that the guests are wearing suits, ties and skirts?

And what about the seating plan? What if the Smythsons and Fox-Barclays can't stand each other? Do you dare to put Josephine next to Richard, or is it too obvious she's hoping to arrange a romance?

Then, at the very last minute, a guest will call to cancel, sparking a futile hunt for someone to put the numbers together. Chances are the substitute turns out to be a vegetarian or allergic to at least one ingredient in every dish on the menu.


Finally the doorbell rings, the first victims arrive and the curtain opens in a nerve-wracking ritual of clumsy formality, forced merriment, one-upmanship and either drunk discomfort or disapproving sobriety ("No, thanks, I'm driving & # 39;). .

Almost always at least one of the guests is late, which means that the food is overcooked, while the pre-dinner small talk among those already gathered becomes stickier.

“Really, how long have you been living there? How many do you have? Boys or girls? Oh, what are you up to? Yeah, sorry, you just told me that. & # 39; Meanwhile, the soup has boiled over in the kitchen, the main course has burned to ashes and the dog throws up something that looks suspiciously like the Mousse au Chocolat et Cointreau, which is intended for aftercare.

When the last guest finally leaves – and while most are happy to flee as soon as they deem it decent, you can be sure that at least one will survive his reception in the early hours of the morning – an exhausted Ms. U and I will look at each other and say in unison: "Never again!"

So I bless Boris Johnson for saving us this hell for the foreseeable future. Still, it seems, some eaters for punishment. That brings me to Mr Corbyn, his hosts and fellow guests, who risk a fine of £ 200 each – a grand total of £ 1,800 – who were caught on camera while committing the new crime of hanging out with more than six people to put a meal.

As the former Labor leader admitted in his apology, nine were on the party, including himself, his wife Laura Alvarez and various others, including "leftist activists, filmmakers and artists".


To put my cards on the table, I am inclined to agree with those who believe the current rules are way too draconian and question the government's right to impose them by decree.

However, I have absolutely no time for those hypocrites – whether government advisers, epidemiologists, or ex-Labor leaders – who urge the rest of us to obey the rules but consider ourselves too great to obey.

But I won't go into that here.

All I'm going to ask is who, besides a madman, wouldn't use the excuse to turn down an invitation to a dinner party – let alone a gathering of artistic leftists – at which this barrel of laughter, the vegetarian tea tote, and the chatter of Mr. Corbyn attended.

It looks like the dinner party from hell to me.

You just have to take one look at the photo to see that everyone in attendance is having a miserable time. Only the woman sitting to Jezza's right tries a smile at all. The former leader himself looks positively at the camera, which looks like a half-eaten zucchini, with the expression he usually reserved for hostile interviewers.

Could it be that he realized that the picture had to find its way into the press and end up in hot water?

Well he deserves it. In fact, I have a lot more sympathy for his dotty brother Piers, who has been fined £ 10,000 for organizing a protest against the lockdown. At least no one can accuse him of preaching one thing while practicing another.

Just glad to have the excuse for a long break from the agony of the bourgeois dinner party.

Is it too much to hope that our often repeated prayer will be answered even after life has returned to something normal: "Please God, never again!"

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