Welcome to my little dinner party! And thank you, Deidre, for the kind compliments. Yes, I do love to do things nicely. A touch of class, as they say!
Of course I have been blessed with having inherited my great grandmother’s dinner set. They say Queen Victoria had a similar set. It was a set of twelve, but over the years the occasional piece has been broken or gone missing. But having seven of us here at this little dinner party, it’s no trouble finding enough settings for each course. I do like to do things properly!
I thought there were seven soup dishes but could find only six. I searched everywhere. And then I remembered! Problem solved! You’re all be able to have soup! I had been using one of them as the dog bowl.
Eloise wasn’t stupid; in fact she was rather clever. She had a degree in Chemistry and had worked for a time at some industrial plant before getting married off and having three children. But now, for whatever reason, she wanted to step off the planet and be done with it all. But she desired to die a seemingly natural death. She didn’t want to foist the reputation of a graphic suicide upon her family.
Eloise would throw dinner parties and quite sophisticated ones too. For several years she practised with arsenic. Just a little arsenic could make it look like her guests had got food poisoning. Once she had perfected the technique she would make several of her guests ill from food poisoning, and administer the big dosage to herself. How tragic (but totally natural) would be her death.
The occasion came. The guests arrived.
There was Lord and Lady Milford. Lady Milford would get a mild bout of food poisoning from a trifling dose of arsenic in the Three Cheese Ravioli appetizer.
There was Hector Staffordshire and his partner Countess Ascrida Rognvaldsdatter. Hector would get a mild bout of food poisoning from a trifling dose of arsenic in the fresh homemade Caribbean Angel Hair Pasta in a rich creamy chardonnay sauce, topped with fresh calamari, shrimp, and capsicums.
The other dinner guests would get off scot free, apart from Eloise herself. She would get a terminal bout of food poisoning from the decadent slices of apple, caramelized with cinnamon and dark rum, served over arsenic-laced vanilla custard.
Everything almost went according to plan, although Lady Milford had a cheese allergy so Eloise served the arsenic to her husband. It didn’t matter who got food poisoning as long as it was someone.
Next the Countess Ascrida Rognvaldsdatter kept sharing little bits of poisoned calamari to Hector Staffordshire, as lovers do; giggling and shoving little titbits of this and that into each other’s mouth. It was most annoying, but both would pay for it in the end.
And then came the dessert-time. Eloise got muddled. She had dished up the dessert and couldn’t remember which one had her portion of arsenic-laced vanilla custard.
Lady Milford and the Countess swept into the kitchen to help, uplifted all the dessert plates at once and deposited a dish in front of each guest. One of them would die. But who? All began to eat.
And then Eloise remembered… Her three children were in the kitchen tucking into leftovers…
Isobel was having a dinner party; just a few people; just seven visitors in all. That would make eight table settings. After all, her dinner set had just the eight placings.
Isobel even partly planned the conversation. It never hurts, does it? to have a few topics up ones sleeve in the event of a conversation lull. And a joke! Isobel even had a little joke at the ready, just in case.
What a delightful evening! Several of the guests had never met before and seemed to get on fine. There was hardly a lull in the conversation. It was dessert time. Isobel thought she would tell her joke.
There was this old lady who lived next door to an air force base, so she thought she would invite some of the staff for dinner. She cooked a chicken. When she was carving the chicken, she asked a few questions.
“And what do you do?”
“I’m on the Ground Staff,” said the first.
“It’s a chicken leg for you. And what do you do?” she asked the second.
“I’m a Wing Commander.”
“It’s a chicken wing for you. And what do you do?” she asked the third.
“I’m a Rear Admiral, but I’m not hungry.”
Everyone laughed at Isobel’s little joke.
“I’m a Rear Admiral, but I’m not hungry,” repeated Isabel. It was as if by repeating the punchline she could extend the merriment of her joke. Everyone laughed again, so Isobel repeated the punchline yet again.
The merriment of Isobel’s repetitive punchline protracted extension had somewhat waned. And then Isobel started to giggle at her own joke’s success. That made other people giggle. They all giggled at nothing, and then Leonard hooted out loud and they all hooted. What a hoot!
Isobel was pleased with her little dinner party. It was such a success! Such a lovely evening! Quite, quite delightful!