The season of party invites is upon us, and the Lawyer and his elder daughter are going through much the same anxiety, as both believe that their popularity can be directly measured by the number of cards adorning the mantelpiece.
Subjudice is winning, for although still at school, her social circle is much wider than the Lawyer's - wider, indeed, as far as I can see, than anyone below Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's level. Thus she has ballet friends, horsey friends, tennis friends and swimming friends, alongside all of her classmates, and her invitations are beginning to fall off the mantelpiece if anyone walks into the room at a faster than funereal pace. The Lawyer's invitations are lost among the crowd, and he does not even have the consolation of sticking them into the mirror frame, as we are obviously never invited to the sort of parties announced by stiff, single boards edged with gold - not posh enough, I fear. All our invites come from Hallmark or Marks & Spencer and collapse as soon as you stand them up. Subjudice's month of parties obviously calls for some serious party wear, and the Lawyer was dragooned into taking her into town, along with a trio of giggling mates, to invade the shops. He lasted through Topshop but beat a hasty retreat at Miss Selfridge, handing Subbie a wad of cash and telling her to do her worst. It was the sight of all the bare flesh that did it, he told me. He had never seen so many bare navels and shoulders since his own youth, spent at the swimming pool, and he was sure someone was going to haul him off as a dirty old man. "I mean, don't you ever get cold?" he asked, as we looked bleakly at Subbie's haul later that day, consisting largely of various lengths of gold shoelace with small triangles and other geometric shapes in Lycra attached. "Don't you think a nice sweater would be smart?" "Number one: global warming. I'll never have to wear a sweater again," said Subjudice. "Number two: central heating. Double bonus: global warming is here to stay, and I don't even have to buy a coat." Of course, extra party activity means endless bargaining over coming home times and who's going to do the taxi run, and the Lawyer and I have already spent what seems like days waiting in the kitchens of village halls and private houses while the DJ puts on Ronan Keating for the last time. "They're not actually dancing with boys, are they?" he asked me once, obviously unable to look through the doors. "Still too young," I replied. "They're more interested in the perfect application of body glitter at the moment. The last thing they want is some sweaty teenager rubbing it off them." This morning the Lawyer got an invitation for us, which cheered him up no end, especially as it's fancy dress and we've got to go dressed in S&M or M&S. "Perhaps I could go as Frank-N-Furter," he mused. "You've got some fishnets, haven't you?" My abiding memory of the Rocky Horror Picture Show is getting my eternity ring snagged on someone's tights as he surged past me up the cinema stairs, and it taking an eternity to get ourselves untangled, by which time I had seen pretty much all that nature had endowed him with, so I was at best ambivalent. "We could do M&S ever so easily," I suggested. "S&M," said the Lawyer. "Do you think Subbie would lend me her body glitter?"