‘I improvised a bobbin sander on my pillar drill the other day.’
There. I’ll bet, in the history of newspapers, no one has started a column thus. Not even a dull DIY buff at Woodworking Weekly would think it catchy enough to hold a lone amateur carpenter in thrall.
It’s not exactly a ‘you had me at hello’ line, is it? Though, reader, it was deemed snippet such a fascinating snippet our friend and genial host decided to regale his dinner party of eight with it on Saturday. It came in that pleasant lull between mains and puddings, when you are so busily wishing you were at home and could take your trousers off and flop on the sofa, that you forget to say anything, a moment which has long been a stressy point for hosts. Allegedly, in 150 A.D. a Roman called Plutarch attempted a remedy. His book Table Talk offered conversational topics like: What is the best time of day for a man to make love to his wife? Why do Jews abstain from pork? Why are sleeping men never hit by lightning and should one make decisions when drunk? Our host should have paid heed; only two people (the kind who read the ScrewFix catalogue on the loo) knew what he was talking about. The rest of us ahemmed a bit and tried to work out what it was a euphemism for.
Said host did enlighten the puzzled faces around his table. I even got a guided tour of his makeshift woodwork room in the cellar. I gazed on the bobbin thing and ‘Wow’ is all I can say.
After that, we women decided to talk shop. A thread about why no one has ever made cheese from pig’s milk (pigs are too grumpy) led on to breast-feeding recollections. You can see the link.
We shared memories of pain and maternal pleasure. Then things took a direction I couldn’t go in. Theirs cups had so runneth over, on numerous embarrassing occasions they had lactated all over the place. One had such a bountiful production, the nurses milked off enough to supply an entire ward of hungry mites whose envious, stressed out mothers were struggling to produce a drop. I breast-fed perfectly well, but fountains? Never. I was envious. Particularly when one of the chaps joined in with memories of his wife’s incredible ability to coat the taps every time she got in a hot bath. No one could top that.
What bizarre topics crop up around your dining table as the iPod commences its second shuffle and enough wine has flowed to submerge your bath taps? Answers on an email, please.