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!