La Fille's London party went really well. Then again, it turned out to be less of a children's party and more of a grown-up's gathering. I invited all my friends with children who I had not seen for ages and we had a lot of fun catching up and let the offspring get on with whatever they wanted to get on with, while keeping a watchful eye that whatever it was they were getting on with was not life threatening. Having reassured ourselves that even after consuming large quantities of chocolate cake, biscuits and crisps they were not killing themselves or each other in an e-number frenzy but had, in fact, discovered the DVD player, worked out how to operate it and were watching Pingu, we adults set about drinking.
Well, it was technically drinking but not as we used to know it. While some of us set upon the red vino like thirsty nomads on an oasis, I noticed that several friends had boiled the kettle and had even found an elderly teapot in the forgotten corner of a kitchen cupboard in which they had brewed tea (as opposed to my normal teabag in a cup). It was noted by a number of guests that never, in the history of parties thrown by me over many years, had so little alcohol been drunk by so many.
In London, I am almost ashamed to admit that by 7.30pm everyone had gone home.
I am not expecting the same thing to happen at the Paris party next Sunday. In my limited experience of children's parties in France - mostly observation of someone else's - adult guests will arrive, say it is far too early for them to drink alcohol then set about quaffing anything, red, white, rosé or bubbly offered to them. Any suggestion of a cup of tea will be greeting with guffawing and side-clutching mirth, especially by French guests. As the afternoon progresses, ex-pat English parents will start fussing over their children's behaviour, American parents will try, unsuccessfully, to stop their youngsters eating anything sweet or chocolate-covered and French parents - thankfully - will not notice what their children are doing or eating.
The last time we threw a party for La Fille in Paris, several guests were still there at 9pm and were invited to share our Sunday chicken dinner for two.