Magazine article The Spectator

Party Poopers

Magazine article The Spectator

Party Poopers

Article excerpt

On Saturday night the hotel management threw a party for the guests. A Summer Party. We kicked off at 6.30 p. m. with tall drinks and canapes on the terrace. While we quaffed and nibbled and chatted, a singer sang to us. She sang her heart out to our indifferent backs and sunburnt necks. It was as if she were invisible to us, or her passion made her unreal.

Then we went inside for a sumptuous buffet supper in the ballroom. Here, a fivepiece band, including an accomplished lead guitarist with a golden earring, was doing its best to make the party go. The food queue passed right in front of him, and we stood there clutching our plates and chatting as though he wasn't there either.

Only after dessert did two sprightly oldsters show appreciation of the band's music by getting up to dance. Their nimble footwork, his absurd perm and their advanced age made everybody stare. After the meal and the raffle, two of the women on our table made us all stand up and shooed us over to the dance floor like so many hens.

We dutifully threw a few self-conscious shapes in front of the band. They smiled at us as they played, united in their derision, it seemed to me, while the few remaining guests stifled yawns and peeped at their watches and wondered aloud to each other whether it wasn't time to hit the duvet.

Then the band ceased to play and, to my amazement, everybody on our table started kissing each other goodnight. The unbelievably pleasant woman from the Daily Mail. The PR woman. Even the bloke from Associated Press said he was away to his bed. I was dumbfounded. The PR woman I could understand. She was a yogi or something and fastidious about her health. But not the hacks. 'You can't go to bed!' I said.

'It's not even 11 o'clock yet - and it's Saturday night!' They were tired, they said.

The mountain biking and the altitude had really taken it out of them.

The cosy, oak-panelled hotel bar was still open, just. The only patrons, an elderly foursome, were just leaving. The singer and synthesiser duo we'd ignored on the terrace earlier were performing their middle-of-theroad numbers to an empty bar. The barman was busying himself, as though he was packing up for the night. His smile was friendly enough, but I guessed I was about as welcome as a cold sore. …

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