I am furiously batting my eyelashes at a mascara wand. The likelihood a blob will fall onto my dressing gowned lap? High. No matter; it’s the skanky one that looks grubby even when its straight from the line.
As I check the time on my phone, I notice three hours of chopping and grating have peeled a third of the varnish from my nails. Best not to wonder where that went and resolve to take one of the 17 minutes left to dab blobs of polish into the blank bits.
Fingers splayed, I rush to the kitchen to turn rice to a simmer and, holding a spoon gingerly between tip of thumb and index finger, give the green Thai curry a stir. I rush back to the bedroom, drag on jeans and shirt, resist the impulse to rip out red, heart-shaped sponge curlers just yet and focus on my Mental Still To Do List.
Indeed, it is pretty mental: lipstick, find necklace, find shoes, check tart in oven, rinse prawns, chop coriander, remind Bloke in shower that table still needs setting, stir curry again, turn rice off, re-check tart, wonder what to serve with tart (get Bloke to check freezer for ice cream). When nail varnish is dry: take out curlers, fluff hair, dash into lounge to plump cushions and shove rag-tag pile of Boden and Lakeland catalogues under coffee table. Which needs a quick wipe.
Phew. I do love having folk round to dinner.
Suddenly, there’s a musical arrangement going on in the hall - doorbell chimes and intruder alert dog-barks backed by the rhythmic base of Bloke’s wet feet thud-thudding on wood laminate.
WHAAAT?? Do these people not know me at all? They’ve gone and arrived a whole 14 minutes early. I am a Late Person. I am en retard for everything (though, perversely, not my wedding day. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was on time for the one occasion when it was actually a prerogative to be 15 minutes behind schedule). And what I hate most are Early Guests.
In their world, it’s rude to be late. In mine, it’s rude to be early. And downright mean to steal from me my last, precious, pre-dinner party 14 minutes. They’re either trying to prove how much better life is for entertaining early birds, who get the culinary prep completed by 4pm and the kitchen pristine again by five so host and hostess can have the mostest time to relax and give each other a full manicure, or they get a kick from seeing Bloke in his bathtowel and me in my second-best dressing gown, attempting to do the meetngreet while dragging out the last, recalcitrant roller. Either way, it’s just selfish.