“…Oh darling you must try it, absolutely the rage down in London I hear….” “Wibblington? Wibblington! – dash it all, the man’s bloody gone and collapsed in the Hydrangeas, someone go and call a doctor for Christ’s sake -”
“Wibblington? Sounds sort of a newty chap, don’t you think? Rather reptilian. Or is it amphibian?”
“Really? I always thought he was mammalian, but perhaps I was misinformed. Reptilian, you say? Now, that is interesting.”
“He’s bloody unconscious is what he is. Now if one of you budding ethologists could run along and find a bloody doctor… that chap over there with the monocle, he looks a doctory type –”
“…No, really? How thrilling! And to think, she only came out last season…. Oh Winifred don’t look, but I think that man rather fancies you, he’s been staring at you all evening… no not that one you ass, the one hiding behind the potted plant…”
“God S-aaaa-ve, the-e-e, Ki-i-i-ng! ‘Ey what you pullin’ me for, nothing wrong with a bit of paleantism… gotta be paleantist, if you aren’t paleantist then what are you, wot? Bloody French is what, ya warty toad…”
“The word you’re looking for, my friend, is patriotic. Now come down, there’s a good chap –”
Entering the room, Heather narrowed her eyes to see through the haze of smoke emanating from the sea of cigarettes. Suddenly a face loomed out of the mist; all Heather could note was a cavernous pair of quivering nostrils before abruptly they withdrew, re-joining the melee of shadowy figures and leaving behind a violently pungent smell of lavender. A yell came from her left, followed by a crash as a man clutching the corner of a large British flag in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other fell face-first off an oak coffee table. Gingerly taking a step forward, Heather found her way barred by an energetic couple, the sounds of the jazz band muffled by the riotous exuberance of the party guests. The song was indiscernible; she could
only make out the glint of a trumpet through the smoke, the newly installed electrics catching the gleam of white suits against dark skin. The woman swung her head from side to side, fingers snapping as she shimmied to a faint drumbeat, the scales on her dress flapping in all directions. Laughing, she lifted one leg high in the air and kicked off her heel, grinning with glee as Heather watched it disappear into the ether. Then, without breaking a step, she kicked the other shoe behind her with a flick of her toes, pirouetting gracefully as she leaped, eyes closed, into her partner’s waiting arms – making her unexpected landing on his dormant body as he lay snoring on the floor. Gingerly stepping over them (initially trying to sidle to the side, she had found her way blocked by a rather large man with an even larger moustache), Heather suddenly felt something cool and damp thrust into her hand. Astonished, she glanced down to find herself the new owner of a glass of champagne. Looking around hurriedly to try and find her mysterious benefactor, she almost collided with a large, mousy man with jet black hair and an extreme
parting attempting to hide himself in what appeared to be a large shrub.
“Um, eh, jolly good party, isn’t it?” he shouted, stabbing himself in the eye with a twig as he tried to burrow himself deeper into the bush.
“What?” Heather shouted back, but already the man was gone, the only tangible reminder of his presence a pair of black suede shoes poking out beneath the leaves.
Dazed, Heather leant against the wall and took a sip of her champagne. The bubbles rocketed down her throat and she spluttered, unaccustomed to the fizz. Placing a clammy hand behind her, she spread her fingers across the cool stone and numbly observed the mayhem surrounding her. She hadn’t quite known what to expect when she had received the invitation, the thick embossed envelope announcing its arrival in purple ink.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Heather?” her mother had distractedly asked at the breakfast table, absentmindedly buttering a portion of the newspaper as she attempted to flip her piece of toast. Wordlessly, Heather had handed over the invitation.
“Oh!” her mother had squealed, “oh, but you must go, absolutely everyone will be there! And we can go down to London and buy you a new dress, I saw some lovely pieces in my catalogue, now where did I put it… oh I can’t find it just now dear, but I dare say it’ll pop up at some point. But oh, isn’t this exciting?”
The excitement had lasted just until Heather had stepped out of the hansom cab and seen the blaring lights, where it receded to pleasurable apprehension. By the first set of doors it had become mild worry, and by the time she had been gifted her glass of champagne it had dwindled to downright panic. Her only thought now was to find her host, thank him graciously, and then promptly leave. She pinched the
bridge of her nose in irritation, screwing up her eyes as she tried to block out a high, grating laugh piercing through the general din. “Come on, Heather, you can do this”, she muttered to herself, placing her glass on a nearby table, only to watch in horror as it was smashed to smithereens by an overly enthusiastic amateur cricketer. Gulping quickly, she closed her eyes, drew a quick cross (although she was not a fervent believer, she thought that if ever there was a time to seek
help from the Almighty, this was it). Clutching the hem of her dress in her shaky fist she took a step forward, and was immediately swallowed by the tumultuous uproar of the Dinner Party.