26 February 2001
With the election seemingly coming up, invites for the fundraisers have been coming in. Nothing, alas, for the infamous Lord Irving bash, but so non-committal has the Lawyer been about his true political leanings that we have cards on the mantelpiece for three separate party functions.
I'm going to find the spring rather a strain, I can see. On the one hand I'll have to deride the single currency and protest that I don't want my mortgage to go up, and on the other I'll have to talk up our common heritage and shout that once people start paying for dos cervesas por favor in euros the whole thing will change. And as everyone, whatever their political colour, sends their children to the same school as ours (the local primary is just too grisly) it's going to get terribly confusing. You can't actually tell someone's political colour from the fact that he ties his own bow tie, revealing of character as this may be.
In any case, the year is marked out in PTA, charity and law society dinner dances, and it's all mix and match then: I'm not sure I'm going to remember who's who. Luckily, I've found that describing the Prime Minister as "that awful, awful man" goes down well with all sides, so I'm safe there.
We've just had the first of the year's school fundraisers. I was delighted to see that £35 invested in a velvet bodice in the Laura Ashley sale cuts it alongside party dress investments worth hundreds. The dresses also revealed who's been doing their sit-ups at the gym since Christmas, and there were quite a few bouncy castles jiggling about under there, I can tell you. (I always go for bodices, they make your top half look like a route map of Great Britain at the end of the night, but by God they hold everything in.)
It was a great success: no one ended up under the tables unless they were planning to (I saw at least one private assignation going on under there), and we raised a packet from the auction. Bizarrely, the rounds of golf, weekends away and the yachting trips took ages to sell, but as soon as they introduced the "whole pig, butchered for your freezer" the crowd turned frantic, and the bidding went up to £350 before you could shout out pig's trotter. There's obviously something about bidding for raw meat that loosens the wallet. Then we had season tickets for the opera and it all went quiet again.
Then it came to bidding to push the button on a chimney being demolished down at the old brickworks. The Lawyer, who finds auctions a great bore, had been cleaning the pudding off everyone else's plates, but pricked his ears up at the chance to blow something to kingdom come. "£50!" he opened, at the same time as Nasty Nigel from pensions on the other side of the dance floor. "£60!" they shouted simultaneously. The auctioneer pulled them apart, but they raced the bidding up to £200 before I could hiss "school fees" in the Lawyer's ear. "£210!" said Nigel, waving his dinner mint contemptuously at my husband. He gulped, and ran a finger around the inside of his collar. "£220," he quavered. "£250!" shouted Nigel, who never forgave the Lawyer for making partner before he did. "School fees times three because Liability starts nursery this year," I hissed. Terrible silence, with little "whoohs" breaking out from the audience. The gavel started its descent. "£300!" shouted the Lawyer, in a fit of charity-induced insanity. The gavel crashed down, and the bidding was over: bang goes our Easter break.