I had a party the other night. Everything was wonderful. The guests enjoyed the meal, the wine flowed and everyone departed happy.
That makes me sound like some kind of domestic goddess, doesn't it? Well, nothing could be further than the truth.
You see, I didn't mean to have a party. I don't do parties. OK, I throw parties for my son because he's little, but I don't hold them at home for the fun of it, because the stress of having people over fills me with utter dread. I think I've never quite got over my first house-warming party where there was a big fight and somebody got knocked out. So how did I end up catering for 11 people last weekend?
OK, so it was the nanny's birthday. And as our nanny is like a family member, I insisted on having a cake and a little celebration. I told my four-year-old son, Gary, that the nanny was having a party. He got all excited. "Will there be balloons?"
"Well, no," I said, and then went on to explain that it would be a grown-up party, with just myself and the nanny, and Gary. Then I said he could invite the five-year-old girl from next door as she is in our garden so much, she would have turned up anyway.
Then the nanny asked if she could bring along her flatmate. I said sure. Now we were five. I went out and bought some salads and breads from Donnybrook Fair. I bought a small cheesecake from the Butler's Pantry, and then a bottle of wine from the off-licence. Sorted.
When I came home I checked my Facebook, and realised with a shock that my aunt and uncle from Canada were coming over that day and were calling to see us.
I sent them a quick message inviting them for something to eat. Now we were seven.
I panicked a little then. There wasn't enough food. I went back to the shops and got more salads, breads and alcohol. I also bought some ham and chicken.
Once home, I realised that Gary had invited the girl next door to the party, along with her mother. Now we were eight. I panicked some more. The cat, who usually disappears for days on end, decided he was going to the party too. He had his eyes firmly in the ham and chicken, disdainfully ignoring the large bowl of Lidl dry cat food that had been placed outside for him.
Then, as I was preparing the table out in the garden, a neighbour popped in to say hi. "Are you entertaining?" she enquired, before adding that we must all meet up soon as it had been too far long. Suddenly she was invited with her husband.
Five minutes later, she phoned to ask if her husband could invite a friend who was presently staying with them. Now we were 11. The nanny nearly fainted when I told her. "I can't blow my candles out in front of all those strangers!"
In the end, we could only find a four-shaped candle left over from Gary's last birthday party. The nanny blew it out, clearly mortified, but we all had fun. Sometimes the best parties are unplanned.