I find that editing a book can be one of the most painstakingly dull tasks in existence on the planet. It is a task designed more for the natural teacher, or accountant, rather than a creative dynamo like myself. It is, however, a necessary evil of the life I have chosen and one must apply oneself adequately to it.
I have retired to my country home in Surrey to ensure I have the peace and quiet that such an exercise demands. The surrounding fields and woodland cradle the imaginative world and help to nurture the words and paragraphs in to the matured novel. This works for me when I am deployed on the main activity but I get extremely restless in the evenings when I am left to my own devices.
To avoid this distraction I have arranged for my valet to organise a dinner party for a few guests. I was inspired in to this idea by a conversation I overheard at a train station, where one fellow asked another who would be at his perfect dinner party. The rules on the platform allowed for dead people to attend although in real life even my imagination could see issues in the practicalities of this. Plus, in my experience dead people are extremely bad company.
I set myself to thinking about who I would invite that would not only be riveting individually but also complimentary to each other. For example, imagine if I was to invite two opposing politicians, or even a member of our Royal family and the President of Argentina. The last time that happened there was an awful cafuffle out in The Falkland Islands.
I always find that eight people are the perfect number for a dinner party and supposing that you invite the obligatory partner, that left me with four people to decide upon. After careful consideration I came up with the following list of people; Keith Richards, Sebastian Coe, Johnny Depp, and Billy Connelly. Surely this collective would be able to sufficiently entertain and keep me away from the demons of monotony.
When the night in question came the weather had been unnaturally cold for the time of year and there was an icy wind blowing through the estate. I had instructed my guests to arrive by nine o’clock, which was unusual for me as I would normally give a ‘no earlier than’ time, and the reason for this was the show I had planned. The cars gradually pulled up outside on the gravel and my guests were eventually seated in the drawing room.
As a personal friend, Derren Brown performed some small tricks for my guests that left them bamboozled and primed perfectly for an open, engaging discussion over dinner. It turned out, unaware to me, that everyone knew each other apart from Keith and Seb, so there were no awkward silences that sometimes occur when people feel uncomfortable.
We moved into the Dining Room to begin the meal and by this stage Johnny and Keith were beginning to act a little drunkenly. This only worsened through the starter of Salmon and as we reached the main event of Heston’s Lamb, unfortunately Lord Coe began to follow them.
I knew that the other two were more than capable of controlling their actions under such influences but Billy and I exchanged glances when we noticed that Sebastian had accidentally stuck his own fork into his hand. This triggered an expected Pirates of the Caribbean anecdote from Keith and Johnny who were by now dressed in hats and very little else.
The climax of the story ended in both of them dancing on the table kicking glasses over, and unfortunately they kicked Sebastian’s out of his hand. Coe was at the point where he was getting protective of what was his and grabbed out at Depp’s ankle in anger. Richards moved over to lend assistance and in the melee that developed, both Keith and Johnny fell out of a large ten foot window.
Lord Coe had transformed from an English gentleman in to a bare-knuckle gypsy fighter, and in a broad Yorkshire accent was shouting after the two recently departed revellers. For a minute or so they exchanged grievances from either side of the window, and the icy wind was beginning to have a sobering effect on both Depp and Richards who were stood outside in only their underwear and cowboy hats.
As Keith attempted to climb back in, Sebastian Coe launched himself at the naked body and only with Depp’s assistance did he manage to break free and run into the darkness. From inside the Dining Room all I could hear was a childish giggling from the two naked bodies as they ran off, quickly followed by Lord Coe. The race was over almost before it began as Coe’s Olympic prowess caught up with Keith and rugby tackled him to the ground.
Depp carried on running and soon he was out of range for any of us to see him. The one benefit of this was that both Coe and Richards were watching and the sight of Johnny Depp’s Brokeback Mountain appearance instantly made them both laugh. They hugged and made friends, walking back to the house arm in arm with a new found mutual respect for each other.
The party moved to another room to continue with dessert because of the window situation, and it was only after another hour had gone by that Johnny Depp’s absence was noticed again. We decided to form a search party and go out in to the grounds and attempt to find him. Billy Connelly led the march explaining that he was no stranger to finding people in the dark, none of us knew what he meant but we followed him anyway.
It was after another hour had gone by that we finally found Johnny huddled up in the pigsty sleeping between two enormous sows. We carried him back to the house and placed him upstairs in one of the bedrooms while his partner watched over him. The rest of us continued with the party that was much better off due to the excitement and we spoke energetically until six o’clock the following morning.
As I now look back in hindsight I am so glad that I held the dinner party, for I was so grateful when I eventually returned to the editing process craving some normality.