Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dinner party guest list

Back in the thick of the new academic year after a month spent in the Big Mango.

I'm looking back at the previous post about life's little treasures, and this always leads me to that familiar thought experiment: 'What would your dinner party guest list be if you could invite anyone in the world?' Of course, including the dead in it makes for better choice. I'm also going to restrict the choice set to those from the world of arts, literature and entertainment.

Woody Allen, of course. Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holliday. The astonishing Nick Park, who makes the astonishing Wallace and Gromit films. JRR Tolkien, who has to be on the list for that one creation involving staggering powers of imagination. A hugely underrated writer, RK Narayan, who will probably only be known to any Indian readers (and more's the pity). Qi Baishi, an even lesser-known painter from China, who painted simple nature art on wooden blocks (see picture above). Robert Frost, my favourite poet.

Stunning talent does not necessarily translate to great dinnertable conversation, and so I would throw in someone purely to play the role of conversation catalyst. Someone not in the same talent league perhaps, but with a pleasing personality and an ability to get the talk going. Perhaps Michael Palin or Louis Theroux.

And I would personally be able to neither talk nor eat, because my jaw would be on the floor.