Summer has come to Edinburgh. This means that B.A. and I can have our dinner parties out in the Historical Courtyard. We had our first such courtyard supper on Monday, having invited a decade of youthful guests. A very elegant lot they were, too, with four of four women in pretty skirts or dresses and five out of six men in jackets and ties.
When I reminded my guests over Facebook that they were invited to supper, I experienced a moment's temptation to write "dressy casual" but promptly dismissed the impulse as in bad taste. Our young guests should come as they liked, and as it turns out, they like to dress for dinner, as well they should. One of the great delights of a dinner party is the excuse to dress up, and the UK does dress clothing very well, despite what you might see slouching down the high streets.
Youth is another country, and they do things differently there. However, there are various kinds of young people, as I have noticed from dinner parties.
The best kind is the young person who comes well-dressed with a bottle of plonk or fizz (at least) for the host or hostess, takes the last bus back downtown (or, if pressed to stay, the first night bus back downtown), and sends some sort of thanks, followed up within the next six months by an invitation to a party of his or her own.
The worst kind (so far) is the kind that comes wearing any old thing, checks his or her mobile phone throughout dinner and leaves before pudding because he or she has another, presumably more joyfully anticipated, party to go to. Possibly there may be old people who do this, but as yet I haven't met them or (she thinks carefully) behaved like that myself. One can only assume that this sort of young person has never been to a formal dinner party in his or her life, and perhaps neither has his or her parents.
As for thank-you notes, I have bought so many thank-you notes, only to forget to take them out to the postbox, that I don't complain when I don't get them. If it weren't for nicer people's habit of sending thank-you notes, I would just send a message over Facebook or call up the kind host or hostess. As it is, I always mean to send the thank-you note, so when I don't, it means a shamefaced and horribly tardy little message over Facebook or verbal thanks after the next Sunday Mass.
But it is terribly nice when people pay you the compliment of dressing nicely for your formal sit-down dinner party, and if they are young, they look positively radiant, too. The cheerful irony about this party is that I did not have time to change for supper, and so apparently resembled "a Slavic granny." Having seen photos from this party, which show me from behind, kerchief on head and red tights on legs, I can see that this is true. Fortunately, I sat beside the guest in a jumper and jeans and we slummed it comfortably together, admiring the beauties in our midst.