Saturday, 19 September 2009

50 Dinner Parties, Part 1

Well, 50 might be a bit of an exaggeration. When I moved into this house 11 years ago, I decided to make use of the beautiful Victorian dining room as much as possible.

It was the first room I saw when we came to view the house, and the first room I fell in love with. I haven't changed much in it, other than install my own furniture. The walls were papered in a cranberry-coloured, star-patterned paper. The Victorian fireplace and mantle were intact. The floors had been shellaced to a high sheen. They still are though these days the lights are rarely on in that room.

One of my early dinner parties involved much red wine and then the inevitable flood. I'd invited my next door neighbour, newly separated, and the neighbours across the street. One other couple came as well. I served roast lamb, as I recall, but the rest of the menu is lost to me. Probably some vegetables, possibly my pear-apple pie. Or maybe something from my Delia cookbook. I used to follow her recipes avidly before I moved on.

As I said before, the red wine flowed freely that night, some onto the tablecloth. As I cleared up afterwards, I noticed a huge stain and took the cloth up to my bathroom to soak in the tub for a while. Then I came downstairs to help hubby do his compulsive cleaning. Seeing I was of no use, I went and sat on the couch for a while. And dozed. Then I roused myself and went up to bed. Hubby was already up there, up to his ankles in water. Oh yes, I said I left the tablecloth in the bathtub to soak. I didn't say I turned off the water.

Hubby ran downstairs to the room below to check the water hadn't seeped through. Too late. Part of the ceiling had collapsed. To say hubby was unhappy is just a bit of an understatement. He slept on the couch that night. The next day I gathered our still-young children and took them shopping so as to make myself as scarce as possible during the cleanup. I ran into my next-door neighbour and told her how the evening had ended. She laughed so hard she wet herself, particularly at the thought of hubby being so mad he slept on the couch.

The ceiling was repaired and replastered. I learned a valuable lesson about red wine stains and the bathtub. For the record, though, the stain came out.