Monday, 27 January 2014

Who Would You Invite To Dinner?

M and I have this conversation quite often. I was wondering how many of you do? If we see or hear someone on TV or in the newspapers we postulate as to whether or not we would have them to dinner. 

The criteria is that they have to be 1) alive today and 2) entertaining/ educational/ interesting, not horrible, divisive, irritating. They generally have to have useful jobs as well and not be famous for the sake of it.

Who would you choose?

Our list runs thusly :

The Queen (because I think she is an amazing woman)
Prince Phillip (because I think he would be hysterical)
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London)
Stephen Fry (M, not me because he is soooo scornful about anything remotely spiritual in nature that can't be scientifically tied down, explained and labelled)
Brian Cox (physicist, another one of M's)
Rowan Atkinson (actor)
Ricky Wilson (lead singer Kaiser Chiefs and my new addition)
Ian Hislop (editor of private eye magazine)
Sandi Toksvig (writer/ presenter/ comic)
David Mitchell (comic)
Bill Bailey (comic and wildlife person)

Paul Merton (comic)
Fred MacAulay (comic)
Miles Jupp (comic)
Francis Wheen (comic)
Judi Dench (actress)
Maggie Smith (actress)
Hilary Mantel (writer)
Billy Connolly (comic)
Miranda Hart (comic)
Joni Mitchell (singer-songwriter) 
C J Sansom (writer)
Kate Bush (singer-songwriter)
Margaret Atwood (writer)
Tony Robinson (presenter with a bent towards history)
David Attenborough (naturalist and presenter)
Brian Blessed (this is L's choice- an actor and explorer with a booming voice)
Phil Harding (archaeologist specialising in Neolithic history) 
Martin Clunes (actor and extremely funny man with naughty twinkly eyes)
Benedict Cumberbatch (actor - my choice :-) )
Hugh Dennis (writer and comic)
Eddie Izzard (cross-dressing comic)

We're a bit low on women which is slightly depressing. It's also not meant to be an eye-candy list, otherwise I would have added the TVBF's Damien Lewis and Cillian Murphy, amongst others....

Then I suppose you have to decide what you'd feed them. My staple for feeding large amounts of people is usually something like lasagne with a huge bowl of salad and a loaf or two of crusty bread, followed by home-made sherry-drenched trifle or homemade chocolate brownie cake with M's blackberry ice cream. 
If we have a spare trout in the freezer we sometimes do that instead with dauphinoise potatoes and steamed veggies from the garden, or we'll do roast pheasant from the local shoot with all the trimmings, because M is widely acknowledged to be the best roast tater chef for miles around. Risotto is another good one, as is sausage, apple and marmalade one-pot (just bung whatever you want in (I usually add tomatoes, onion, courgette, chunks of apple and beetroot), top off with stock, herbs, salt and pepper and stick in the oven for 40 mins).  M makes a mean Chilli complete with all the fancy stuff like chilled sour cream in a dollop on the side, as well as a pretty divine plum tart which is best with organic double cream.
We always have G&T or something sparkly to start off with, along with nibbles in the form of posh crisps, and move on to wine with the meal, topping everything off with coffee and tea and (if I've been feeling particularly energetic) homemade chocolate and brandy truffles. Usually (if it's our friends from Romsey coming in a minibus) we end up finishing the night off with a bottle of whiskey, port and/ or homemade mulberry vodka, and get up the next morning with one of those hangovers that fools you into thinking you've escaped when really the worst is still to come.

D'you know what? All that food talk has made me starving- think I'll go and see what we can have tonight....

CT :-)


  1. An interesting list of guests for dinner and I feel hungry too, reading about your choice of menus (especially the desserts - I love desserts and the chocolates). I think I'd have people round that were wildlife enthusiasts and history enthusiasts - not sure they'd interest each other, though and I'm sure none of them would be David's choice, either! I might add Michael Palin - I did meet him once and he was entertaining.

    1. I'll make you a batch of the truffles next Christmas :-)

      Micheal Palin is an excellent idea. Would you have David Starkey for history? I'm never sure about him. My old lecturer (Michael Hicks) was a staunch advocate of Richard III 20 years ago and published a book or two about him. He'd make an interesting dinner guest- perhaps he was, given the regeneration of Richard that seems to be happening now, ahead of his time? Both my Anglo-Saxon lecturers were also great (especially the literature one who would read out passages of prose and poetry in the original dialect which I absolutely loved listening to) so maybe they'd go on my list too.

      It struck me again how woeful our female politicians are though as women who would inspire me. There must be some, they just haven't sprung out at me, and that was quite a depressing when I came to think of it.

    2. No I'm going to be a very tedious name-dropper and say that I've met David Starkey, too, because I used to work at the London School of Economics where he worked. But for a TV historian I would choose Michael Wood (who I would like to meet!) He is an Anglo-Saxon enthusiast and would go with your old lecturers very well I think.
      If I'm thinking of the Govt (and Labour, come to think of it) I can't think of a female politician I'd invite either. Sad in 2014.

  2. I like a lot of your choices, and I definitely WOULD NOT entertain Stephen Fry because I think having an enormous ar*e at one's dining table is not aesthetically pleasing or hygienic.

    Might I add the comedian Milton Jones, and my one time MP Miss Ann Widdecombe? I would also invite the historian Lucy Worsley and ex-BBC weatherman, the superb Dan Corbett who has gone to New Zealand and the BBC weather hasn't been the same since. Oh, and Mel Gledroyc and Sue Perkins but only as a pair, and actress Sally Phillips. Robbie Williams and Jules Holland for musical interludes.

    And I would feed them a traditional English afternoon tea but no alcohol because I am tee-total and the smell and taste of alcohol makes me yak.

    I think that's it. Well, for the moment. Except for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Can I add Hugh? Thanks! Xxx

    (Andy says he would like to add Tom Baker (another boomer) and Lalla Ward (because she was married to Mr Baker and is now married to Richard Dawkins and it might make for explosive conversation) and Claudia Winkelman.)

    1. Some interesting peeps there D. M would also have Sue Perkins on his list. I reckon L would like Tom Baker for boomingness, and I knew you'd choose Widdi! xx

  3. Top of my female list would be Victoria Wood, and I think Ellie Harrison would be great, Carol Klein. Bruce Springsteen, Gordon Buchanan, Gerry Robinson, Micheal J Mosley. Oooh so many to think about!

    1. I can never remember all ours. It was quite tough sitting down and trying to recall them all from scratch yesterday... :-)

  4. Fabulous food ideas there for lots of people, thanks! But you have made me feel very peckish! I agree with 90% of your guest ideas too. I can never think of many inspiring women either, sad eh?

    1. It got me to thinking about inspiring women and I realised that the women I know personally are far more inspiring to me than distant famous ones. My friend Katie is a midwife and helped deliver twins last week; my friend Saz coped with a very unwell hubby when she was heavily pregnant with their second little boy; my mum has been through so much and always comes out smiling, my sister is doing such a good job bringing up her girls, my friend Jax is having a tough time right now but keeps on going nevertheless, my friend Kaz cracked her skull last year and managed to keep smiling despite losing her sense of taste and smell and bits of her memory and not knowing whether they would ever come back; I have patients who have been through extremely distressing experiences and put themselves back together again, and single mums who have brought up their kids while holding down demanding jobs with not enough help and no time off. I could go on and on. When I thought about all of them I realised I know loads of inspiring women who just get on with life and make the best of tough times, they're just not in the public eye is all. And that was a nice thought :-)

  5. hi CT. Well that is a long list. Hope you have a big table!!! Agree with most of your guests but NOT Stephen Fry.

    1. We have an extra bit of wood to go on top and make it bigger Margaret! :-)

  6. I like quite a lot of your choices and the menus all sound delicious :) I would definitely invite David Attenborough - he would be top of my list :) I'd also add Chris Packham and Richard Mabey (for his superb nature writing) and Richard Fortey who writes the most incredible geology books. Brian Cox would be on the list too and perhaps Richard Dawkins.

    Hilary Mantel too is a must and from sport I'd go for Andy Murray (may not have much conversation but what a wonderful achievement in winning Wimbledon) :) Actors - DEFINITELY Benedict Cumberbatch and perhaps Martin Shaw and my favourite Doctor Who Tom Baker (as Denise commented he and Dawkins would be an interesting combination :) )

    I am sure there are loads of others but I would definitely add Owen Paterson just so I could berate him about his appalling environmental record and lack (or wilful misunderstanding) of science - badgers, bees, hares, HS2, MCZ's, Ancient woodlands - the list is endless. I would, of course, hope that he'd be that fed up of the criticism he would leave well before the dinner party really got going :)!!!!!

    Another thing I sometimes do is think of all the people from history I would like to invite :)

    1. I thought BC would be on your list too :-)

      The presence of OP would ruin a dinner party for me- I'd end up wanting to shout at him.

      Love the idea of people from history- I'd have Shakespeare, Chaucer, Jane Austin, King Alfred and his daughter Aethflaed, one of the less mad Roman Emperors, Cleopatra, Richard III and Edward IV, some of the suffragettes, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Offa, Disraeli, Darwin... ooh, so many! x

    2. I think it's a really good list, but I would add Alexander McCall Smith and Alan Bennett. I wouldn't have the Queen because it would mean we would all have to be on our best behaviour and not tell rude jokes. Brian Blessed is a bit of a problem because nobody else would be able to hear themselves speak, and if Boris Johnson is going to be there I'm not coming. My husband would like Rose Tremain, if that's all right. He'll bring his delicious Tarte au Pomme Alsacienne and I can make some nice salads.

    3. Ooh, now Alan Bennett is an excellent one, and I like Alexander McCall Smith's detective agency books so he could some too. I have a sneaky feeling the Queen could tell a rude joke with the best of them if she was enjoying herself and not being recorded. Rose Tremain is also a fab idea and yes please to the salads and Tarte au Pomme :-)

  7. Nice to see you've got a couple of interesting Canadians on your list

    1. But of course.... :-)

      How is that puppy doing?

  8. Its good fun the history one - so many people would be of huge interest. Agree with all yours particularly Darwin, Jane Austen, the Brontes and Richard III - oh to find out if he murdered the princes in the tower!!!

    I'd also add on Gilbert White, Mary Anning, Anne Boleyn Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Hardy, and my 2 favourite nature writers Edward Thomas and Richard Jefferies. Oh gosh there are so many - enough for a dinner party for every month of the year!!

    I'll comment on your latest post tomorrow but just to say so glad that M's injury is healing :)

    1. I love your extra history people and would have them on my list too. Haven't come across the nature writers you mentioned but will look them up. I'd also add Leonardo Da Vinci and George Stubbs, and probably a Pre-Raphaelite or two as well as Percy Shelley. Wouldn't it be great if you could invite them all? Although as you say, over several months probably! :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x