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WHAT A SWELL PARTY IT WAS!

   Norman and Jean set off for Oxford on the 22nd, Alison rather recklessly having thrust an invitation to her party at them some weeks previously. Rip had written to say that a couple of reporters would be turning up but she was not expecting anyone so eminent or visible as the editor herself and the tea boy.

   We will draw a veil over their hotel experiences. After last year’s stay at the ** - the exploding toaster, the teabag and  jug of hot water for breakfast - they had  intended never to darken those doors again; however, everywhere else was full, it being a matriculation weekend. They took their own muesli, grapes, yogurt, coffee, grapefruit juice for a picnic breakfast - bizarre enough you may well think - but one look at the dinner arrangements at the hotel, with its new themed café - do we need to describe the pretentious, uncomfortable, pop rackedy atmosphere?- and they took themselves off elsewhere for the first night to a delightful Italian restaurant in North Parade, where they ate so much they spent the following very rainy day with acute stomach ache. That night they ate in their room  - on M&S sandwiches. This is not the way to enjoy a 3 star hotel, folks.

   It was all worth while, however, when they arrived at the party. Once Alison had got over the shock of finding her PARENTS on the doorstep she and her friend Alex were delightful hosts. The house was looking lovely, the wine was flowing free, the music was trad and the old couple were actually encouraged, nay almost bullied, into taking to the floor.

    Alex led Jean in a nifty quickstep and Norman jived with Alison and one of her friends, quite memorably though the sophisticated style was a little dented when he tried to tell her about his operation. Jean put a stop to that.

    They left after an hour, so as not to cramp the style of these young things, but not before they had met Lindsay. Hitherto only an e-mail friend she proved even more delightful in the flesh though her account of riding her motorbike along the M40 in the thunder storm, forcing herself not to sing “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands,” was distinctly memorable. We hoped she resisted the urge on the way home too!