Frankly, any dinner party is a fantasy to me nowadays. I was pretty disaffected from the polite pissing contest that constitutes the average middle-class munch-fest long before the pandemic, but the past couple of years have seen the psychic equivalent of sticky tape printed with “POLICE CRIME SCENE” stretched across this particular zone of sociality. So it’s with considerable pleasure that I retreat into a purely fantastical one.
I’ve chosen to whine and grine my guests in the Circular Hall at Lambeth Town Hall. Why? Because it’s local to me — I’ve lived in this area of sarf’ London for a quarter century this year — and its Edwardian elegance contrasts with the busy central Brixton streetscape which can be seen from its ocular windows. The Reliance Arcade and the entrance to Electric Avenue (of which more later) are both in view while the Academy music venue, where I saw one of my guests, Martina Topley-Bird, give an extraordinary performance with Tricky in the late 1990s, is only a trip and a hop away.
Topley-Bird’s ethereal voice was the skylarking that soared above the rocky soundscape of the late nineties, which was about the last time I truly felt the pulse of the zeitgeist. It will be a pleasure to dine with this remarkable artist, who went on to have an equally brilliant solo career. I’ve also invited Eddy Grant because he was not only a pathfinding black artist in the Britain of the 1960s, but he also subverted the teeny-boppy “Baby Come Back” (his first big hit) by recording that paean to all things anarchic — and the Brixton riots of 1981 in particular — “(We’re gonna rock down to) Electric Avenue”.
Obviously, I’m interested to see how Margaret Thatcher, whom I’ve resurrected to be my sommelier for the evening, will react to Grant’s presence. But we won’t find out much, because as my paid employee I’ve instructed her to say nothing to my guests beyond polite requests as to what they’d like to drink and tasting notes on the beverages.
Find out who Will’s other guests would be at the FT here.