The royal family; take whatever stance you please but aside from littering the world with bunting and cluttering the country with tasteless memorabilia they have done one good thing for me; motivated the beginning of this blog. Really, the trinkets and tat are nothing to do with the Windsors themselves and can be more reasonably be attributed to the idolisation that people so often unquestionably bestow upon those who are at heart, just like us. The royals are quite unnecessary but are decent individuals whose decency extends to the foundation of marvellous things such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Of course, one could say that the royal family exist on government money and thus are contractually obliged to be charitable but we’ll brush over that…
As you will doubtless remember, I have used the art-form of the blog to convey to you my endeavours in progression towards this fabled accolade. In order to complete the sections in the award it has to be externally assessed. With regard to my skills section, this came in the form of me hosting a dinner and after sampling my wares, the participants evaluating my success/failure.
I don’t know if you know but my ideas tend to do a lot of brewing before they become fully fledged into being and this was no exception. In truth it was an extension of the thinking behind the whole Formal Tuesday philosophy that led to the conception of such an event. Part, but I daresay not all, of the idea behind Formal Tuesday was to do with how I felt about young people being viewed as rude, socially inept, unsophisticated slobs. In fairness, this assessment is not entirely unfounded and I find myself increasingly appalled by blatant, even boastful littering and the consciously unkempt. I believe we must do all we can not to conform to this stereotype, but in a roundabout way; to conform is not to conform. I admit I am idealistic, I think there is a higher way to live and that it can be achieved with little effort, merely focus. What I strive for is structure outside the prescriptive.
Am I losing you? In the words of Mr Rizzle and Mr Kick “let’s skip to the good bit.”
I wished to include a wide demographic that would extend across social groups. I have in the past described myself as something of a delocalised electron. As much as I believe in individuals, I invited my guests in groups of two so while they would each bring their unique perspectives on collective experiences, they would feel comfortable enough to share these in the presence of a known friend, thus creating optimum conditions for interesting dinner conversation. The carefully selected group plan was in the most part a success and would have been entirely so, I think, if a certain granny’s 80th had not cast a thin film of reservation over one of the guests.
To the food; I cooked my debut dish once again, Moroccan Chicken. It was distinctly less red than my previous attempt. I asked my guests to fill out evaluation forms “Come Dine with Me” style after the feeding for some outsider feedback. The average rating for presentation was 8.8/10, which was reasonable for when it comes to food I am usually less than picky about the aesthetics. I got a mean score of 9/10 for taste which I am fairly chuffed about. The average overall mark was again 9/10. The comments included, “absolutely delicious,” “jolly good” and “the menu was lovely as was the hosting.” Criticisms were, “starter and full effort cooked pudding required for full marks” which is justified as it was just shop-bought pre-made meringues and fruit and “couscous was a bit stodgy.” The couscous seemed to have retained a lot of water and become slightly congealed as the guests took longer to arrive than anticipated resulting in unwanted partial cooling. The red onion could also have been mixed in more thoroughly.
The evening had highs and lows but I would say mostly highs. I was perhaps in a rather blunt and jittery mood to begin with but as initial configurations were accounted for, the night ran relatively smoothly. I had prepared a quiz for my relations to play at Christmas that had not been used over the festive period so decided to invoke this to provide some entertainment. Unfortunately after a couple of rounds my latest guest had to leave. By the closing rounds I began to wonder whether I had made the quiz too hard as I was struggling to answer my own questions without the assistance of google. This coupled with the relevance of some the questions to December’s news as opposed to more recent current affairs.
The night saw the public debut of my new subwoofer’s integration with my existing P.A system in an attempt to create some kind of atmosphere. It was not long before High School Musical was being blasted out with enthusiastic singing/mouthing from at least two of the guests. There was an unanticipated lull after the quiz but the time was filled with one and a half rounds of “the post-it-note game” before it was time to head home. Perhaps next time I shall tweak the demographic and cook more cheaply (expensive ingredients.) All in all an experience I would gladly repeat.