Hilarity started immediately on Friday evening as opened door to boss and Horseface to find them both on doorstep wearing sunglasses, despite being quite dark outside, and already giggling between themselves as they entered, at which point they said in unison,
"I say, jolly bright in here!". Smiled politely whilst everyone raucous with laughter.
Instructions had been most insistently given that Mrs Payne would be cooking dinner, so before tottering off to the kitchen assured us most delicious meal was upcoming (shopping having been done in secret), and we should wait with expectation. This most seriously undertook by all, with generous pouring of wine glasses.
Some time passed with conversation passing to and fro, not least of which was tale of unfortunate acquisition of multiple Christmas trees. This considered most amusing by all, not least of which was Mrs Payne popping in on one occasion to assure us excess noise from kitchen of no concern at all. Proceeded to add quite extravagant description of my returning with Christmas tree covered in sleet, including shrill laughter bringing renewed chill to my bones. At this, Horseface reared her head, saying,
"I say, I hope you had a big...", then stopped, silence falling on the room for a few moments, and then simultaneously a great deal of laughter broke out amongst boss, Horseface and other half. Mrs Payne, quite unaware of terrible events was presently filled in and laughed her way back to the kitchen, before opening the door with shocked "Oh, I say! .. Nothing to worry about!" and closing door behind her, with further noises occurring frequently. Ended particular conversation with refill of wine glasses.
Having emptied one bottle, and made serious in-roads on another, was universally agreed that party was beginning to feel rather peckish. Suggestion passed amongst four of us on whether other half or I should have audacity to interrupt Mrs Payne, with clear winner being myself on account of fierce argument for me on behalf of Horseface. Boss made very little effort in his side of bargain in arguing for other half. Thought this highly unfair and flagrant ganging-up.
Entered kitchen to find Mrs Payne with look can only be described as terror, rolling pin in one hand and handkerchief in other, stood on kitchen chair, whilst quivering and looking nervously around room.
"Close the door!", was exclaimed in my direction, and not wishing to make scene with guests, did so immediately.
"I say, Mrs Payne, what's going on with regards to dinner here!" was all I could say, surveying room to find number of pools of liquid and splashes of flour adorning table top, cooker, floor, and furious to say, not insignificant quantity on wall.
"The scoundrel got away from me whilst my back was turned! It's around here somewhere, fearful beast. Should have gone with turbot as the fishmonger suggested." At this Mrs Payne's gaze flashed across room at which rolling pin was loosed from hand in my direction, with but a passing experience of college sport saving me from damage.
Eventually managed to ascertain fearful beast as lobster, described by Mrs Payne as "a bit nippy", but after some time looking could find nothing of it. Getting quite irate on account of hunger, asked Mrs Payne what else me might find of nourishment to further sustain the search. Apologetic reply was that only a few salad leaves were otherwise on offer. Sauce had been quite ruined, as so nervous as to whereabouts of beast, Mrs Payne unable to keep utensils (and ingredients) under proper control.
Mrs Payne quite upset, was left to me to tell party that no dinner would likely be forthcoming, and would they be so kind as to keep an eye out for a lobster about the place. This taken awfully well by all, possibly relating to a wine top-up whilst Mrs Payne and I in kitchen. Boss took this all to far, saying to Mrs Payne he thought me a "terribly bad sort" for putting Mrs Payne to work in the kitchen whilst she should be providing guests with her "delightful company". Horseface chimed in similarly, smiling sweetly as she did so.
Having quite enough of whole evening, gaining broad consensus and telephoned for food delivery. All having been helped to more wine, some considerable times passed waiting on delivery, within which time endured tale from Mrs Payne on heroic battle with "sea beast", with boss, Horseface and other half quite engrossed and lavishing plentiful encouragement.
Food finally arrived, and having sent delivery boy on his way with not a penny of tip, but a few sharp words on timeliness, sat down to finally eat. All positively famished by this point, and not even getting my order wrong prevented eager consumption.
Would be happy to say that was all of the evening...