I must start by admitting that I have never liked dinner parties, and count as one of the major consolations of age the licence to answer an invitation to one with a flat “I’m sorry, I’ve given up going to dinner parties.” (More shortly, “I don’t do dinners,” like a caterer.) Having a  few friends around for drinks and something to eat is different, though two guests is the ideal number, four is less good but all right and six the exceptional, absolute maximum…  [T]he characteristic d.p. demands that the victim should spend a good two hours trying to talk and listen to people he has never seen before, one of whom will be Sydney Smith and be heard saying, “Madam, I have been looking for a person who disliked gravy all my life; let us swear eternal friendship.” It still amazes me slightly, on the rare occasions when I think about it, that there must be millions of otherwise normal people who like all that.

Kingsley Amis, Memoirs.

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