Have other people grown out of playing games like, Which Chalet School character would you like to be friends with? and Which Flambards man did you have the biggest crush on? I haven’t and neither has my friend Susanne. Cue hours of endless fun.
A great standby is, Who could come to tea? We don’t even need to play it as a game; when we discuss a writer – or character – we use an invitation to tea as a yardstick of acceptability. You could really admire a writer but not find her a convivial guest: Emily Brontë, for example, mightn’t have been the best of craic. It’s always high tea, of the sort the Famous Five enjoyed at various groaning farmhouse kitchens, though we expect some of our invitees might like to supplement all those cakes and pies with a gin and tonic.
When I saw the subject for this week’s blogposts, I enlisted Susanne’s help, even though she’s not an Allsort. (Thanks, Susanne!) This is the guest list we came up with. All the writers had to be dead, so as not to offend the living, and they all had to write for children, though otherwise we’d have quite liked Anne Brontë, simply because she gets overlooked so much and would have been pleased.
We both agreed Edith Nesbit would be great fun. Apart from being a wonderful writer, she seems to have been an interesting woman. Conversation wouldn’t flag. We both thought she’d be funny, too, with the kind of wit that doesn’t date.
We’d both got lots of fun out of Enid Blyton as children, but decided Enidwouldn’t be an ideal guest. She might be inclined to dominate, or to dismiss another’s opinion by saying she never listened to anyone over the age of ten. And she might get up and start knocking on the wood panelling in case it revealed a secret passage, which would be tedious in the middle of a quiet tea.
Noel Streatfeild has an open invitation. She’s one that we thought might appreciate a gin and tonic. She’d be full of chat and theatre gossip, and she wouldn’t let anyone else away with being grand-damish. After all, her characters did a great line in making noises as if they were going to be sick at the slightest hint of anyone’s showing off.
Not that Noel would do that at a tea party; she was too well brought up. But she’d be ready with the comic put down. She’d also enjoy the lovely food and the frocks (it would be quite a dressy occasion), judging by the attention her characters give to such things.
We weren’t sure that Antonia Forest would be the easiest company, but we’d simply have to have her, to find out all about what the Marlows did next.
The Pullein-Thompsons might be too busy out riding or mucking out to come to tea, but if they couldn’t make it we’d love Ruby Ferguson, of Jill fame, to represent pony books. She’s one of the funniest writers ever, and she’d be bound to be good value.
So there you have our tea party. It should be quite a jolly affair. You’re all welcome too.