The best thing about being a writer is that you can go to lots of parties and call it “research”. Generally speaking, you know you’ve been to a good bash when you wake up in an unfamiliar nation with nipple jewellery. For me, socialising is as natural as breathing. But for those who find mixing tricky, here are my top mingling tips…
1 AVOIDING SOCIAL SIBERIA
When you enter a room and don’t know anybody, never loiter in the doorway looking lost. Simply select the most boisterous group and insinuate yourself into the conversation with the words, “You’re clearly the most fabulous people in the room. So, what have I missed?” Gregarious types love an audience. Alternatively, wear something that’s a conversation piece – a themed frock, a tiara, Dame Edna glasses – anything to kick-start the badinage. Soon after you’ll be lobbing banter back and forth in the Wimbledon of wit.
2 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE VIP KIND
When meeting a VIP, don’t turn into the Edmund Hillary of social climbing. You may think you have a head for heights, but hobnobbing at that altitude can lead to nosebleeds and a chronic case of A-listeria.I suggest you try to disarm with humorous charm. For example, at a literary event hosted at Clarence House a few years back, I hobbled in on crutches. When Camilla asked me how I’d hurt myself, a jogging injury seemed too mundane a reply. “I fell off my toy boy,” I joked, half expecting to be sent to The Tower. The future Princess Consort cackled like a kookaburra – and, despite my republicanism, the invitations have kept coming.
3 MINGLING WITH INTENT
The best aspect of a party is the diverse human menu, so don’t get stuck talking to the boring Brussels sprout when you’re craving some spicy Indian. It doesn’t matter that you can’t leave invitees hospitalised with hilarity from your witty one-liner. The only thing a guest should never entertain is doubt. So be confident, smile, wait for a pause and warmly say hello.
4 ESCAPE PLANS
My only party commandment is “thou shalt not bore”. Do not under any circumstances discuss your ailments or alimony. If you end up in a conversational cul-de-sac with a wine buff who put the bore into Bordeaux, don’t think it’s impolite to walk away. I find the most effective way to get rid of the Party Bore is to cough in their direction and mutter, “It’s so brave of you to be this close after my diagnosis.”
My top party tip is to always remember that drunk is the future of drink. More than three glasses of bubbles and you may be feeling pretty damn sophisticated… even though you can’t pronounce it. Yep, being thunker than you drink you are, can lead to all kinds of embarrassing moments. A friend once threw an intimate party for Al Pacino. “Just don’t mention his alopecia,” she warned. “Of course not!” I replied, earnestly. A couple of cocktails later, I was feeling so fos-fist-icated that I shook Al Pacino’s hand and said, “G’day Al Opecia, how are you?”
6 FOLLOWING UP A FRIENDSHIP
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I hate the word “networking”. Ugly American terms like these are a form of vowel cancer, eating away at the English language. But if you do want to follow up a friendship, facetiously suggest a fun rendezvous – a swing from a chandelier, a whipped cream orgy, a soirée whose dress code reads “clothing optional”… who wouldn’t want to go to that? So, you’re all set. Now simply buy a six-pack of tiaras and go forth and be fabulous.