Monday, 21 June 2010
Like so many other things in life, this caught me unawares.
An enjoyable lunch with an interesting group metamorphosed in my mind into something else. A category: Ladies who Lunch, the implications being firstly Ladies and then Lunch.
Lady-like behaviour was an important factor in my childhood. Politeness, good table manners, social skills, knowing one's place. The opposite was 'common', which could involve shouting, pushing, wearing the sort of clothes that allowed flashing of the knickers, showing off, making onself conspicuous. Common always had charms.
A little later, incipient ladies were more specifically trained: doing the flowers, laying the table, using the correct form of address for a bishop. Ladies-in-training were made to walk around with books on their heads and were given badges as rewards for good deportment. Would anyone dare to treat any eighteen year old like that today? What was wrong with us I wonder now? Why was there not some sort of rebellion?
We went overnight from being school-girls to being middle-aged ladies, wearing hats and gloves and rubberised roll-on corsets and suspenders and stockings (not, you will clearly understand, from even the remotest thought of kinkiness, but because tights were yet to be invented. Kinkiness had been invented, but was never spoken of. Teenagers had not been invented, either).
Common, meanwhile, was wearing bras with the cups stitched into rigid projectile cones and was smoking and gasping in the back row of the cinema. Common was likely to become pregnant any day or night, but Ladies did not fully understand about such things,and certainly would not dream of gasping at the Hunt Ball.
Common continued to exercise its furtive charms.
Lunch - proper lunch, something you sit down to eat off a plate, not something eaten on the hoof or at a desk from a paper bag - luncheon implies 'not working'.
Luncheon needs at least a double set of cutlery and matching plates and proper, starched damask napkins.
After-luncheon coffee requires matching cups and saucers, not chipped 'humourous' mugs with pictures of sheep and pigs. It will need a polished silver dish for the chocolate mints. Oh, heavens!
Ladies who lunch are at leisure in the middle of the day. They are free to enjoy like-minded company, an attractive starter, a light but beautifully presented main course with a chilled glass (or two) of Chablis, and an amusingly delicious pudding.
Ladies who Lunch are coming to my place at the weekend.
Too late in the day I realise I'm not a lady and I don't usually lunch.
The garden is out of control in the heat, and I am nearly defeated by it, but they will want to see it - and peversely, I will want to show it off. So (despite my promises to my sons) I have already clambered on the shed roofs to prune the vine, taken a machete to the bank at the bottom, and done my back in getting ground elder out of the rock garden with a crow bar. (Is there a manufacturer who makes lady-sized machetes, crow-bars and chain-saws?)
The Ladies will probably want to use the loo, which means I ought to scour the house from top to bottom. Really I should have redecorated and recarpetted.
I must find a cure for the dog's flatulence, (she's such a friendly old thing and loves company) and fill the house with flowers and scented oils in case I can't.
All I have to do then is cook a totally delicious meal that no one else has thought of, being at the same time sure that it will not cause allergic reactions or weight increase.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.