This week’s league assignment was a doozy: pick five guests (dead, alive or fictional – which covers most people…) for the ultimate dinner party.
(I’m deliberately leaving out real folk I know – it seems stupid to start picking favourites from friends as some numpty will always get upset because you didn’t pick them.)
So there I am in my velvet suit, checking the spuds with a skewer while enjoying a cheeky glass of red, when I hear a ‘tap tap’ on the door. My first guest! Who could it be…
Loudon Wainwright III
No one else in the history of music has been able to make people laugh and cry on his beck and call in the same set – often in the same song – quite as consistently as the man Loudon. And it’s always nice to have someone at your place with some genuine musical talent on an acoustic.
Add to that he always seems lovely in conversation – and who’s going to have better stories than a man who spent the past 50 years competing with Dylan and Springsteen, touring the world, and siring kids as bonzo as Rufus and Martha? Man, he must have some stories. And he’s a skinny one – not likely to eat you out of house and home…
This may seem a bit left-field as she can come across as massively obnoxious on television, but I think JSP would be a cracking dinner party guest. She’s had an amazing career as a journalist, editing a national Sunday newspaper, and we can thank her for commissioning Red Dwarf when head of youth and entertainment features at BBC2.
She also loves walking, she loves the English countryside, but more importantly she’s as irreverent as they come and loves a good verbal bun fight. Admittedly she’d be in pretty strong left wing company here (spoiler alert!) but you can guarantee she’d find something to get her teeth into – other than my lovely southern friend chicken (with gravy, of course).
Tony Benn (RIP)
I’ve heard very few politicians open their mouths and start pontificating that I haven’t immediately wanted to punch in the face. Tony Benn is the only person who actually achieved the opposite, making me feel a little disappointed when he’d stop berating whichever poor soul was the subject of his ire that day.
A passionate and fascinating man, I expect he will remain the only politician I’ve been sad to see pass away. I met him to say ‘hello’ to ever so briefly on a march many years ago and he was every bit the gent, taking time to speak to everyone who wanted to have a few words. A great loss to the world – but still a great fictional dinner party guest!
I’m going to get in trouble for this one… but what can I tell you? Genuinely charming and funny on screen, in one of my favourite TV shows of recent years (Eureka), starred in wonderful YouTube silliness The Guild and is one of the main creative forces behind YouTube channel Geek and Sundry.
Music, journalism and THE WORLD are all well and good but frankly, at some point in the evening, I’m going to have to get my geek on – and I can’t think of anyone (that I don’t know) who’d I’d rather have a laugh and play games with. I wonder if the rest of the them could be converted to board games…
John Peel (RIP)
Sadly another gonner, Peely was the musical father I never had. A genuine DJing legend, he lived music in a way the rest of us can only imagine – and he did it with a complete lack of style, outward professionalism or panache. I lost count of the amount of bands he introduced me to and he taught me that just liking one genre was for wankers.
And if you want stories, where else would you possibly want to look? He DJed for 40 years from Dallas and California to pirate radio to late night Radio 1, introducing more bands to the UK than you’ve had hot dinners. He was miserable if not at a gig or on the air (or at my dinner party, natch) and he saw, met and played everyone.