Can you imagine, we’ve done over two hundred days of happy things and I’m only just getting to dinner parties? These are fancy-pants affairs, on which I have hinged my career thus far.

Sex Death Canapes

And yet, I’ve only just brought it up for the HappyDays.


Dinner parties play to my key strengths:

I’m an excellent cook.

A world class drinker.

An outrageous flirt.

And I’m pretty funny.

All things being equal: I can do all the rest of it without cooking, but if there’s food, I’m sober-ish for longer.

So, what I’ve learnt about dinner when it’s fancy… These are my rules, not Sylvia’s:

Calorie-controlled nonsense is unnecessary and will only hold you back, which would be a tragedy.

Check for food allergies, aversions, awkwardnesses, before you start cooking.

Having a first course of fish is fine, but the main course should be something else. If you go fish, followed by fish, you’re going to hear about it.

Chicken hasn’t tasted like chicken since 1978. It’s a risk.

If you’re going to offer to cook to order (steak of various kinds. Blue, rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-done, done), follow the order, or don’t offer.

Give people time to digest and chat before bringing in another course.

Napkin rings always feel like a step too far, but they’re not.

Anything that might cause digestive distress is going to damage your bathroom before that of your guests.

Warm the plates. Always.

Keep an eye on the glasses.

Most important of all, if you’re cooking, have someone there who you can rely upon to keep the conversation going. Chances are, if you’re busy in the kitchen, you won’t know what anyone’s talking about anyway. And, if you cook like me (or the late, great Keith Floyd), you won’t be in the mood to keep up in any case.