At last week’s launch party for his biography of Bond creator Ian Fleming, Nicholas Shakespeare thanked Fleming’s family for hosting it (complete with martinis), noting that a splendid book launch party is a very rare event these days.

He’s right – and it’s not only book launches that are an endangered species.

Parties in general seem to have slid out of the calendar – by which I mean proper parties, where somebody is a generous host supplying the food, drink, guests and venue. Parties that are special occasions rather than last-minute bring-a- bottle events.

It would be simple to say that at my age (in my 60s), it’s hardly surprising that people aren’t throwing themselves with huge enthusiasm into hosting large gatherings. But that would be wrong. 

They seem keener on such occasions than young people, who may have given up on parties because they are all crammed into tiny, rented rooms and have little spare cash to splash out on bottles from Majestic.

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN (pictured): Parties in general seem to have slid out of the calendar ¿ by which I mean proper parties, where somebody is a generous host supplying the food, drink, guests and venue. Parties that are special occasions rather than last-minute bring-a-bottle events

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN (pictured): Parties in general seem to have slid out of the calendar ¿ by which I mean proper parties, where somebody is a generous host supplying the food, drink, guests and venue. Parties that are special occasions rather than last-minute bring-a-bottle events

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN (pictured): Parties in general seem to have slid out of the calendar – by which I mean proper parties, where somebody is a generous host supplying the food, drink, guests and venue. Parties that are special occasions rather than last-minute bring-a-bottle events

However, considering how many have boomeranged back to live with their parents, they ought to be able to take advantage of that parental space to hold a party.

Meanwhile, the youngish middle-aged, who have their own places, are too obsessed with their children to spend their energy giving parties and, instead, appear to splash out on holidays.

The demise of the party is very depressing. Even if it sometimes seems a bit of an effort to go out, one of the most useful things I have learned in life is that you can always go home early. Not wanting to stay somewhere is no reason not to give it a go.

With Christmas approaching, perhaps I will be proved wrong. Maybe invitations will be sent out to all kinds of parties, and the prosecco is already on order.

But if that’s the case, so far I haven’t been invited to any.

Spooky how spies make the best hosts

The biography of Ian Fleming has been published at the same time as Adam Sisman’s The Secret Life Of John Le Carré. The success of both Fleming and Le Carré is due to our endless fascination with spies – and the Imperial War Museum has just mounted the exhibition Spies, Lies And Deception.

Spies know things that the rest of us don’t. They operate close to danger and treachery. They lead secretive lives. No wonder they make such compelling subjects.

The only person I know who could even remotely be called a spy has never shared a single snippet of information about his work, so I’ve still no idea exactly what he did. But a few years ago he hosted a very good party that was stuffed with spies. Spooks, it seems, can make excellent hosts.

The biography of Ian Fleming (pictured) has been published at the same time as Adam Sisman's The Secret Life Of John Le Carré

The biography of Ian Fleming (pictured) has been published at the same time as Adam Sisman's The Secret Life Of John Le Carré

The biography of Ian Fleming (pictured) has been published at the same time as Adam Sisman’s The Secret Life Of John Le Carré

Kiss goodbye to office greetings

Since it’s now considered improper for a man to kiss a female colleague in a workplace meeting, what is the position if only women are in the room? The other day I met a group of women who all kissed each other on arriving and leaving – actually, not me, as I hold back when it comes to hugging and kissing. 

In this instance we all knew each other, but if a junior person unfamiliar with the group had been there, would she have felt it was fine having everyone leap on her as they said their goodbyes, or would she have felt it was as intrusive as being kissed by a man?

If Madge is still into the groove, so am I

No matter how insane Madonna looks, there’s something very reassuring about her existence, since she’s pretty well the same age as me. She certainly has a very weird appearance, with all the cosmetic surgery, and elements of her dress sense are, shall we say, challenging. But I love how she keeps on going on. 

Apparently she reckons that if Jagger and co are still performing in their 80s, she’s good to go on for several years more. By that token, I reckon that while Madonna is still performing like a whirling dervish, I too have another decade or so more on the dancefloor.

This conflict isn’t a game, Mr President

The only positive thought I have about the Israel/Hamas conflict is that at least that madman Donald Trump isn’t in the White House. But surely Joe Biden could come up with something more statesmanlike than laconically referring to Hamas as ‘the other team’ when he visited Israel last week? This is not a football match.

Forget the satnav – and pull out the A-Z

Usually I rely on the app Waze, but on a drive home from Essex the other day it let me down. On the outward journey it had guided me through a particularly beautiful single-lane route and I wanted to return the same way. But Waze was having none of it and was resolute in directing me to the motorway.

So I ignored the GPS and tried to find my own way back, which, of course, led to me getting lost. Fortunately I had an old A-Z road atlas and worked out where I was and how to get where I wanted to be. GPS may get you from A to B, but it’s incapable of letting you take in D or K en route.

Chino brigade don’t pull their punches

Blue shirts and chinos have been banned by Cardiff University Students’ Union because they’re deemed to be associated with drunken members of sports clubs. 

This seems baffling but perhaps less odd considering that they’re also the casual uniform of choice for Wall Street’s financial heavy-weights who are never a tribe to pull their punches.

Farewell to Kirsty, my TV fashion hero

It’s very bad news that Kirsty Wark is to leave Newsnight after the next General Election. She’s a brilliant presenter and interviewer, both intelligent and authoritative. 

And she’s also one of the only women on TV who enjoys fashion and has had the courage to wear interesting clothes, rather than follow the bland TV-woman template. The good news is that given last week’s by-election results, I doubt the Tories will be calling an Election any time soon.

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: It's very bad news that Kirsty Wark (pictured) is to leave Newsnight after the next General Election. She's a brilliant presenter and interviewer, both intelligent and authoritative

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: It's very bad news that Kirsty Wark (pictured) is to leave Newsnight after the next General Election. She's a brilliant presenter and interviewer, both intelligent and authoritative

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: It’s very bad news that Kirsty Wark (pictured) is to leave Newsnight after the next General Election. She’s a brilliant presenter and interviewer, both intelligent and authoritative

Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail

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