12 November 2007

Dinner Party Conversation 19th Century - 2007

Playwrights, sketch-writers and garrulous foodies from Stoke Newington in the north to Brighton in the south are today fumbling mutely with the remains of Julia's lovely spinach roulade ("it's a Nigel Slater recipe") and knocking back the remains of that rather good organic Vin de Pays d'Oc, in memory of Dinner Party Conversation which has been silenced by the arrival of a guest carrying an iPhone.

Ever since the arrival of servants and gas lighting in bourgeois homes in the 19th century allowed the middle classes to pop round for an evening meal at each other's homes, Dinner Party Conversation has been heard in dining rooms across Britain. Down the decades it has covered a vast number of topics - from the relative merits of the latest instalment of Mr Dickens's new tale in Master Humphrey's Clock and the way Mr Peel's awful Health and Safety inspectors prevent hard working parents sending their children up perfectly good chimneys, to the relative merits of the latest Will Self short story in The Independent and the way Mr Brown's Health and Safety Nazi's won't let you read a book while driving at a perfectly reasonable 65 mph in your own car, including more than nine trillion references to the current state of house prices and the difficulty of getting Tom and Jocasta into a decent school along the way.

Perhaps Dinner Party Conversation could have carried on in this manner forever. That it did not was the result of the sudden invasion of its natural territory by an unexpected rival. On Friday 11 November 2007 and during the evenings that followed, vast numbers of Dinner Party Conversations were suddenly and ruthlessly silenced by the arrival of guests smugly clasping in their hands the latest product of Apple Inc, the new iPhone. Bearing the shiny new piece of technology before them as if it were the host at a mass, each of these guests was at once awarded the place of honour at the repast, while their fellow diners silently queued up before them to touch the beautiful new mobile communications device.

Unwilling to go meekly to its death, Dinner Party Conversation tried to put up resistance - launching conversational gambit after gambit as it sought to speak of "the nine solid months of church attendance necessary to get little Toby into that CofE school", the "inexplicable reverence shown towards Stephen Poliakoff's bloody awful dramas" and even to "Stephen Fry's paean to Steve Jobs's new marvel in The Guardian". Yet all its efforts merely resulted in it being shushed into silence as otherwise sensible people partook in the sacrament of delicately stroking the new phone into life ... and choosing to ignore the sticky fingerprints on the screen, easily scratchable body, inadequate camera, lack of 3G connectivity, ridiculous contract lock-in, fixed battery, dodgy text entry and high price, as they wondered how quickly they could buy themselves one.

Dinner Party Conversation will be buried after the coffee and mints at St Nigella's Church of the How Did You Whip Up That Marvellous Starter? The congregation will be too busy marvelling at "the way the phone can tell which way up you're holding it" to notice.

1 Comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You're truly on form with this one, Dodos. I like the references to the "Safety Nazis" and St Nigella's church!