Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Dinner Party Fantasy, for BIO

A Dinner Party Fantasy
for By Invitation Only

When I was young the movie Out of Africa ticked all the boxes for me, and for many of my friends.  Of course it boasted Robert Redford who, though miscast, still rivaled the beauty of the African landscape.  The costumes made us all want to wear safari hats and kente shawls, certain we’d mirror Meryl Streep if we did so.   And then there was the farm house.  Oh, that glorious house.  I still remember how my heart quickened with desire when I saw that exquisite floral linen on Karen Blixen’s overstuffed sofa and chairs.  I toyed with the idea of draping my bed in mosquito netting and purchasing a cuckoo clock for my sitting room, so strong was my desire to duplicate the magic of that house.  And my favorite scene in the film, even more so that the swoon-worthy hair wash by the river, was the candlelit dinner party when Finch-Hatton requests “a story”......  

Karen:   “Whenever I tell a story to my nieces at home, one of them always provides the first sentence.”

Finch-Hatton - “Anything?”

Karen:  “Absolutely anything.”

Finch-Hatton:  “There was a wandering Chinese named Cheng Huan, living in Limehouse, and a girl named… Shirley…”

Karen:  “Whooo …spoke perfect Chinese.  Which she learned from her missionary parents…..”

Her voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper as she stares into the candlelight and we are off to the races.  I was completely entranced and this has since been my template for the quintessential dinner party ever since.    Of course to have this sort of dinner party guests have to be chosen carefully and that’s where I’m lucky.  I have a wild bouquet of options when it comes to choosing who might fill the chairs round my table, each one more than capable than the last of regaling the gathering with fascinating tales, rapier wit, and laughter, all vital ingredients for a perfect dinner party.  Is there anything better that listening to your guests spin tales over the remnants of a glorious meal while the candles burn down low to paint flickering shadows across captivated faces?  Bliss.

Here in the states this week, we are filling grocery carts with sweet potatoes and cinnamon, green beans and pumpkin puree.  Flowers are being bought and arranged, pies are baking, bread is rising, all in preparation for the ultimate meal of our calendar year, Thanksgiving.  I can think of no better time than now to create my fantasy dinner party guest list and so I thank Marsha for this opportunity to let my imagination run wild, which is precisely what I expect these guests of mine to do, as they are all brilliant, funny and inventive.  For fun, I thought I’d request a story from each of them, much like Finch-Hatton requested of Karen, and to complete the fantasy, I’m providing each of them with a first sentence.  

Stephen Fry…. 
“The hands of the clock were frozen at twelve - midnight or noon, Geoffrey did not know - and the room was as cold as a Christmas icicle….”

Emma Thompson… 
“The Corgi had been the smallest of the litter, something his brothers and sisters never once let him forget….”

Nathan Lane…. 
“Jeremy sat up suddenly, stunned and a little embarrassed to find himself surrounded by candy wrappers and confetti, the detritus of an evening he could neither explain nor remember….”

JK Rowling… 
“The rain had begun suddenly, the way spring rains sometimes do, and Marguerite wondered as she sat on the train in her new linen dress what precise character flaw had influenced her decision to travel this far without any assurances that Leonora would even remember her name…”

Michael Palin
 “It was said that the mountain cave was haunted, a legend for which Freddie publicly expressed disdain…but privately….”

Tina Fey 
“Lois had never intended to steal another pair of shoes but her guilt was assuaged by the fact that these were on sale...."

Meryl Streep…. 
“Fiona could only speak Gaelic and now that she was finally standing in the middle of Times Square she realized how ill-advised it had been to come to New York alone…”

After the stories,  I’d have Alan Rickman read the poem Ithaka,
 just because I adore his voice…

and then, just at the close of the evening,  
I’d ask Sir Paul McCartney to sing Blackbird.

A dream dinner party, indeed!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!

For more essays on this topic, go HERE.
And to have your copy of 
Edward Speaks at Midnight, A Christmas Story 
under someone’s tree for Christmas, 
order now… HERE.

Thanks and xoxo!


  1. Only you can do what you do so well, Pamela.

  2. Beautifully done...................I bow to YOU!I loved that movie too and did get the netting to drape over my bed!
    Congratulations on your NEW will be a GRAND hit no doubt!
    I think your FETE should take place in a castle somewhere in ENGLAND and EDWARD BEST BE THERE TOO!

  3. What delicious handling of this month's topic. I love your guest picks and giving them a first line of a story, (could you send Tina Fey and Emma Thompson to my house for dessert?) :)

  4. I have a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Nygong hills....
    Oh, you are so right about that evocative film. Evocative is really the only word I've ever used to describe it. A perfect movie, one which will last forever in our minds and hearts. And, that story line is one I wish people could actually complete, with the assistance of some fine wine, of course. I absolutely LOVE this, I love your guests too, especially Nathan Lane. He's one of my favorites of all time. What a delicious post, Pamela. I send you and the pups much love and a Happy Thanksgiving for each of you. Please know how very much I appreciate your being a member of our group. Thank you.



  6. A delectable selection of guests Pamela { most of them British too !! } and all with many stories to tell, I'll be bound, making for a brilliant evening. Love ' Out of Africa ' too.
    Wishing you and yours a beautiful Thanksgiving. XXXX

  7. Thank you for a delightful idea Pamela. I shall adapt this to play as a game when I have visitors next Saturday night.

  8. . . . . . . and I went to Africa with all the safari accoutrements, wishing I could look as good as the stunning Ms. Streep's character from my all time favorite book!

    What an amazing dinner/evening it would be at your table with so many fabulous guests Pamela - only you could pull it off with your glamorous decor and scrumptious food to boot!!!!

    I raise my glass to you - à votre santé.
    Happy Thanksgiving -

  9. What's left to say...except "Marvelous"!

  10. Speechless...your imagination is spectacular!! Thank you for the gift of this marvelous post. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Wow, what a guest list and I loved each and every one of those opening lines. Thank you for reminding me of that scene in "Out of Africa." Why oh why don't they make movies like that today? Pamela, wishing you the happiest of Thanksgivings!
    xo Sunday

  12. except you'd have to have me, dropping my southern for my true voice, and Bill Nighy, and then it would be a party!

  13. Pamela. this is a dinner party for the ages, the guests staying forever into the wee hours, and the stories...oh my!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

    The Arts by Karena
    The India Hicks Collection

  14. i could write this to you at your email address.
    but i wanted to say it here. for all to see. in case they hadn't yet ordered one.
    i just read my book ... 'edward speaks at midnight.' it arrived today in my mailbox.
    i was so excited! i could hardly wait to return from my recycling errands to open it.
    but i made myself wait.
    i wanted to savor it. i fixed a cup of cafe francaise and sat in my reading chair by the big window.

    oh pamela.
    what an exquisite presentation in every way.
    the art of kevin captures your simple words and simply perfect heartfelt story...
    and the beauty of the natural world... and edward's expressions... well! you are both just amazing.

    this little midnight blue book will be a christmas tradition in my wren house from now on.
    it will have place of honor on the big tartan covered table under the lamp. to be read and re~read.
    i collect special christmas children's books. only i don't consider them children's books at all.
    just as this one is not only for children. it's for EVERYONE! everyone who believes in love and what's best about christmas.

    i cherish my little christmas books. and i will cherish this one. it's so beautifully done.
    just as your first book is. i love it too. the quality of both books is nothing less than i would expect from you. they're beautifully made.
    thank you so much for writing both of these treasures.
    hug beloved edward for me. he's such a sensitive soul. and hug that incorrigible lovable apple too!
    you are magical dearest bean. just magical! XOXO♥ ... and happy thanksgiving!

  15. Out of Africa still tops my list of "favorite movies of all time". I love your guest list, please, please can I come? Such a wonderful season for dreaming and enjoying magical times,no matter how many are involved. Best to you, Pamela.

  16. Can I join you, and bring Maggie Smith? David Niven? And, Michael Caine? I lack the confidence to join and contribute to any sort of lively conversation but, oh, would I ever love to be a mouse in the corner.

  17. It really isn't fair! You fabulous writer, you!
    I must brag; in case I didn't post it.....that my daughter's closest my "son" is Mike White! He wrote the movie "School of Rock" (among others); and he was being honored by PETA; and invited me to the best party ever! Paul McCartney sang for 200 of us! Lordy! Not like having him for dinner.....but still......I did see him at the Hollywood 1963 or 4; but that was with 10,000 people; or more!

    Brilliant party list! Of course!!!



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