Have you ever had a good idea that has spiralled out of control? I think I had one this morning. It all started at half past 11 this morning when I saw Lydia and Matthew smooching in Bexley Town Centre. They looked so sweet and cuddly and, despite the fact that Matt is technically my step-son and I should have been slightly miffed that he was being molested in public, extremely good together. I'm pleased that Lyds has got over her recent doom and gloom about Susan at Number 30 and the baby. So I invited them to dinner this evening "just a buffet type thing but you're more than welcome". Ten minutes laterI answered a call from Saskia while Mac and I were in M&S looking at that gorgeous dessert they advertise on the telly. Just looking you understand. Poor old Blue is carrying some extra weight. Mine.
Anyway, Saskia is feeling extremely unloved and all alone as she has finally got round to dumping her incredibly boring boyfriend. "It's not that I miss him" she said moodily "I just miss having someone to be seen out with". So I invited her for dinner too. She perked up at this and said she'd ring Charlie to see if she wants to come. Twenty minutes later Charlie rang to say that she was going out with Rich Boyfriend Jonathan tonight but would "pop over later". See what I mean? A good idea spiralling.
"How many people is that mummy?" Mac asked as we headed for the supermarket. "Five plus us" I said through clenched teeth, crunching gears. I went round Sainsbury's like a woman possessed. Buffet dinner for 8 shoved in the trolley, I headed towards the checkout and spotted Enormous Au Pair sniffing the muffins in Starbucks. Bea was not far behind her "Leave it!" she barked, sounding not unlike me when the dogs are sniffing something unsavoury in the park. Casting an expert eye over my shopping trolley she enquired what was going on. Mac filled her in. Her face lit up. "I'd love to come too, leave Stephen in charge of EAP for once. It's quite tiring policing the fridge and I broke a nail yesterday wrenching the nutcrackers out of her hands". Nine for dinner, I added another quiche and more potato salad. Now to tell my darling "hate-all-these-dinner-party-type-things" husband.
The only available parking space was ten doors along - a battered Volvo sat behind David's newly washed and buffed Meriva taking up "my" parking space. I started clenching my jaw again as we headed into the house. All three dogs were in Super Hyper Out of Control mood and nearly knocked us flying as we stood in the hallway weighed down with shopping bags. The reason for their behaviour was sitting on the sofa wearing a tweed suit with legs akimbo and whiffing of aniseed. "Auntie Ginny!" Mac screeched and started gabbling at 90 miles an hour - roughly the speed at which Junior Dog was haring round the kitchen, claws scrabbling on the laminate flooring. "Ginny's here!" David said with a big beam on his chops. He adores his big sister and was wearing a tweed flat cap that she'd obviously brought with her.
That's ten for dinner then.
David was remarkably calm about the amount of people that were descending for dinner and even said that he was going to see if Matt wanted to come anyway. He even agreed to help me "peel things and whatever". I relaxed as Ginny filled us in on the latest developments, including her burgeoning romance with Colonel Hugh Ruffington-Smythe. "Silly bugger keeps sending me orchids. Think it's his way of being subtle. Well, he says they look like - y'know - don't they? And he wants to get me in the sack." My mind was reeling and trying to picture the orchid I've got on my window sill. Mac was agog at Ginny's feet sucking on an aniseed ball with all three dogs drooling over his legs. The doorbell interrupted us - Marjorie had forced her way past David clutching a flowered cake tin which she thrust into my arms. "I've made you a Dundee!" she squawked, eyeing Ginny with interest. Introductions were made and Marjorie plumped down on the sofa and looked set to stay for the rest of the afternoon. "Under no circumstances mention tonight" I hissed at David as I headed kitchen-wards.
Five minutes later David joined me "Too late, Ginny's invited her. And Frank." Trying not to headbutt the fridge, I sent David out for more cooked chicken, another quiche, more olives and another cheesecake. He came back an hour later with almost the entire contents of the hot and cold deli counters. "I've bought extra cheese, to go with the Vacherin." I suppose it was a tad greedy to want the whole thing all to myself. I started on the salad as Marjorie left to "get tarted up" - she added a slow wink to this comment and shimmied out the door.
That was an hour ago. I swear I can smell Franks Old Spice wafting over the gardens, fighting for air space with Marjorie's Poison. Ginny's been on the Jack Daniels since ten to four, Bea has phoned with the promise of champagne amid telling Enormous Au Pair "no, you can't come with me" in a tense voice and Saskia has just arrived with a face like a wet weekend in Cleethorpes.
I'll let you know how it goes.