Dinner parties are rad. At least I assume they’re rad. In truth, I’ve never attended a dinner party in my life. I mean, I’ve been to plenty parties and I’ve had my share of dinners, just never at the same time.
What do you cook at dinner parties? I’ve no idea.
What do you talk about? I’ve no idea.
What do you do for entertainment? I’ve no idea.
Who do you invite? Ah, this one I know. Provided I’m granted a bit of latitude here – say, the ability to reanimate any historical figure – I know exactly who’d be at my DP.
You bring them back from the dead – I don’t care how, just find a way – and I’ll learn to cook, entertain and engage in the sort of repartee that befits such an occasion.
Do we have a deal?
Then let’s do this. If you have a problem with my dining companions, use the comments section below to suggest more suitable alternatives. Or, y’know, start your own blog and tell the world about it. Your call.
My dream dead dinner party
The trouble with most DPs, from what I can gather, is that they’re predominantly white middle-class affairs. Not mine. Mine will include all kinds of rogues from all kinds of races; not in the interests of diversity, but in the interests of entertainment. If I wanted to spend three hours discussing artisan bread and microeconomics, I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of resurrecting these dead dudes, would I?
There are many things I would love to discuss with the renaissance painter and all-round genius, but I would start by bringing da Vinci up to speed on technology and disclosing the form that his flying machines ultimately took. What I’d really enjoy though is showing him the plethora of Mona Lisa mash-ups that have sprung up in recent years. I suspect he’d be amused.
So I could tell him he was right.
Because of the patriarchal system that’s ran the show for the past 12,000 years, there aren’t many notable women in history and thus there aren’t many women at my dead dinner party. Cleopatra will go some way towards remedying that. There are a dozen questions I’d like to put to Egypt’s last pharaoh, one of which will certainly be “Did you actually bathe in ass milk? Ass milk? Really?”
Tutankhamun and Howard Carter
While I’m digging up Egypt’s dead rulers and breathing life into their withered remains, I’ma stop to grab Tutankhamun. The pharaoh who oversaw the 18th dynasty lived a whole millennium before Cleopatra, but that’s OK – I’m not resurrecting him so the pair of them can reminisce about the days when Egypt was able to get shit done. No, I’m taking Tutankhamun to my DP so I can plonk him alongside Howard Carter, the man who busted into his tomb and rudely awoke the gilded one. Provided they can overcome the language barrier (given that we’ve successfully raised the dead it seems a small ask), their banter should be top-notch. “Why did you curse me?” “Er, why did you desecrate my grave?”
Mandatory. I doesn’t even matter if he has no appetite; Kurt can sit there and smoke heroin for all I care so long as he shows up.
The internet activist and all-round good guy topped himself a year ago after being hounded to his death by vindictive prosecutors. (The long and moving story of Aaron’s fate can be read here.) The least I can do is bring him back for an evening of raucous entertainment with some of history’s greatest heroes and villains.
There’s probably some unwritten rule about not inviting Nazis to your dinner parties, but then it wasn’t written down so it’s hardly clear, is it? The seating plan could be tricky, but provided I place the Führer away from Aaron Swartz, it should work. Besides, it’s my dinner party and if anyone has a problem with the guestlist, they can fuck off back to the grave.
Now here’s a man I would love to see eyeballing Hitler across the dinner table. Would there be sparks or would the two leaders strike up an uneasy truce until after-dinner cigars had been smoked? Sadly we’ll never find out, though in my dream dinner party, the duo become best buds until Hitler attempts to annexe the last canape from Churchill’s plate while the British bulldog is lost in one of his characteristic naps. Bad Hitler!
Elliott Smith and Judee Sill
Elliott Smith was a supremely talented singer/songwriter who became an hero in 2003 at the age of 35. Judee Sill was a supremely talented singer/songwriter who became an hero – or possibly just OD’d – in 1979 at the age of 34. The perfect duo, then, for my dead dinner party. I even made a short playlist as an introduction to their awesomeness (blame Grooveshark if it refuses to play):
Until last week, I’d never heard of Judee Sill, but became transfixed after reading an article about her short and tragic life. Her obscurity appeals to the hipster in me, while her music appeals to the part of me that occasionally desires a break from hard dance and metalcore. (Plus it makes my gf think I’m some kind of sensitive guy who has feelings and stuff when I play it to her over dinner.)
This DP could easily turn into a dead musician’s reunion, which is why I’ve reluctantly omitted Hendrix, Layne Staley, Bradley Nowell and a bunch of others. Richey Edwards has to be on the list though; partly so I can ask the Manic Street Preachers wordsmith what happened on that day in February 1995, and also because his fearsome intellect and socialist rhetoric would enliven any occasion.
Bill Hicks can smoke all through my dinner party if he wants. In fact he can do whatever the hell he likes so long as he remembers to speak in between drawing deep breaths of dat beautiful nicotine. Hicks would have a lot to say about the state of the world today once he’d been debriefed on the bullshit that’s been perpetrated since he exited stage left; 9/11, wars on adjectives, mass surveillance and e-cigs. Imagine how much better the world would be if the reaper had claimed Justin Bieber, George W Bush and every other fucktard on my hit list and left us with Bill Hicks, Kurt Cobain and the rest of my dinner guests who were taken too soon (Adolf H excluded)?
To the left of Bill Hicks will sit an empty chair, reserved for a man who the great stand-up had a lot to say about (“And lo Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus…with a splinter in his paw. And O the disciples did run a shriekin’: ‘What a big fucking lizard, Lord!’ But Jesus was unafraid and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus’s paw and the big lizard became his friend.”)
I’m inviting Jesus to my dead dinner party for one reason and one reason only: to prove that he doesn’t exist. If the chair remains empty, we’ll know that he was a fictional character. And if he shows up, well, fucking-A: water into wine and loaves into finest caviar.
Biggie and 2Pac
I appreciate they’re not a couple like Brangelina or Chavril, but I’m gonna lazily lump the 90s’ best dead rappers together. Notorious can polish off the leftover entrees while 2Pac comes to terms with being surrounded by some of the whitest men in history.
While most DPs involve some form of after-dinner entertainment, my car crash of a party should take care of itself. With sworn enemies and mutually incompatible characters on both sides of the table, there’ll never be a dull moment.
You want formal entertainment? OK, fine: Judee Sill and Elliott Smith can play piano while Biggie and Pac freestyle. It’s the musical supergroup the world’s been waiting for.
My triumvirate of Bills would be completed by William Shakespeare, who would be invited to the social event of the year for two reasons:
1. To find out if he looks anything like the bloke in the painting
2. To ask him whether he had any help in writing those kick-ass plays
And that concludes the roll call for my inaugural dead dinner party. There were more on the shortlist – scores more – but there just wasn’t space at my invisible table of win. If there’s enough interest (i.e if you good people enjoyed it enough to share this piece with your friends), we’ll host another one next month.
Who’d be on your dinner party guest list? Post the names of the dead below or, if you’re feeling super enthusiastic, write your own blog and submit it (guidelines here).
Dinner parties aren’t just for the middle classes you know; they’re open to anyone who can make a banging beef wellington and summon the dead. Cook it and they will come.