Róisín Ingle on . . . brunch, drunch and party pains
I’ve thought about this and I’ve decided brunch is the best meal ever invented. The word is brilliant for a start. It was conceived in the late 19th century in Britain in the days before portmanteaus were as common as muck, so as a linguistic invention it was way ahead of its time. Brunch – not quite breakfast, not quite lunch – came along more than a century before mankind turned Brad and Angelina into Brangelina or Wesley Quirke and Rosanna Davison into Wesanna or George Clooney and his fiancé Amal Alamuddin into Geormal. Mankind hasn’t done that last one actually, that was me trying to start a trend. Cloonuddin, anyone? Okay, fine, be like that.
I went for an amazing Drunch – not quite dinner, not quite lunch – in Dublin’s Marker Hotel for Mother’s Day a while back. Drunch also sounds a bit like Drunk which is what my Mother and I were after two lethal cocktails. I have in the past been invited to Linner – not quite lunch, not quite dinner – at a friend’s house and I just felt kind of mortified the whole time I was there even though the food was lovely. I kept thinking ‘I’m at a Linner Party’ and feeling self-conscious. Some things just don’t sound right.
For someone like me who doesn’t eat breakfast, brunch is the champion of meals. On my own, it can be as basic as beans on toast but when inviting people for Brunch, quality ingredients are key. You don’t just get the cheap black and white pudding, you forage for the good, artisan stuff. The sausages you buy come in a variety of flavours – garlic and herb, maybe chilli and tomato. You push the Brunch boat out, getting in sourdough bread instead of sliced pan. You make scrambled eggs a la Française, with water instead of with butter. Your guests ooh and aah because somehow everything is hot, even the plates, and you feel all self-congratulatory as you ask “anyone for more sourdough toast?” because you recently bought a toaster with room for four slices instead of a paltry two. Hosting a good Brunch can make you feel like you are winning at life even if behind the scenes you are a bit of a loser.
That’s what was happening with us last Sunday. The perfect brunch had been perfectly timed to facilitate two important happenings. 1 A certain sporting occasion involving a certain soccer team from Liverpool and 2 The fifth birthday party of two of our children’s closest friends. The brunch guests were heading off to watch Liverpool and we were heading off to attend the birthday party with one of us quietly hoping the match might be on at the party.
We had the presents wrapped, the cards made and our party dresses on when we rocked up to the venue. It was one of those sporty places with a play centre. We arrived at ten minutes to 2 because I find it very important to arrive early at these things.
The door to the party room opened and I remember thinking how interesting it was that so many other people had arrived early when my friend, the mother of the two beautiful birthday girls, Maisy and Georgia, whispered “Róisín, the party is over we are just having the birthday cake. It was from 12 to 2”.
I’ve told you about the time I went to a wedding I realised afterwards I wasn’t invited to. I’ve told you about the time I went to a new friend’s house for dinner but it wasn’t dinner, just an invitation for a look around their refurbished house. I haven’t told you about the time recently I turned up for dinner in my other friend’s house only to realise it was the following week, but I’m telling you now. And yet in the league table of life’s unforced errors this missed birthday party comes top.
The children weren’t bothered. They ran off to gallivant in the play centre while I sat nursing a coffee and somebody else found a TV screen to watch Liverpool, untroubled by what had occurred. I sat there and I heard my friend telling another guest in a low voice “ah, she’s mortified” and I realised I was mortified and then I started crying. Actual tears.
The girls got their goody bags and balloons even though they’d missed the party and we went off to the beach to paddle (them) and pretend we hadn’t missed the party (me). Then I went home and decided I should never be invited anywhere by anyone ever again. But if you fancy brunch round mine, I swear I make a really excellent one.