I actually love being a hostess. Who’ll be in charge of drinks: Me please! Who’ll make sure there’s napkins and cutlery: Me! Me! I love it. Everything organised, nobody desperately seeking brown sugar for the coffee. Don’t drink coffee? Here’s a selection of teas…
Despite all this my sister recently gave me this book.
I think maybe because she knew I’d appreciate the outdated party games and canape selections that the pages gaudily boast.
It’s written by a lady called Ethelind Fearon. And before you ask, Yes; The same Ethelind Fearon that wrote The Reluctant Gardener and The Reluctant Cook. The basic tone of the book is dictated in the first paragraph:
A party stands or falls by the excellence of its drinks.
So despite having written this in 1954 Ethelind is spot on there. She has a chapter on Cocktails, Cocktail Accompaniments, Drinks and Ghastly Games (her words, not mine).
She starts the Ghastly Games chapter:
Having got the people to your party you must do something with them. Circulate a cocktail or two in a softening-up process…
I have known parties which needed soot, biscuits, a carving knife, two candlesticks and two night dresses, a top hat, a pack of cards, lipstick, a bowl of flour, 6 empty matchboxes…
And she goes on listing stuff like that for ages. Ethelind?! What kind of party is that? And can I go?
In her Drinks chapter she says:
I recommend bitter beer because- well, try it and see. I specify British Sherry because its alcoholic content is greater in ratio to its price than any other beverage except home distilled brandy.
In her closing chapter she has encouraging words for the reluctant hostess:
Entertaining… you can’t dodge it, so you’d better immerse yourself thoroughly and go for it in a big way. Spare the gin and you’ll spoil the party.
Party on Ethelind.