Thursday, 12 February 2009


Iguana steak, anyone? 

I was just reading Arabella's hilarious post about her fantasy dinner party (very honored to have been included there) which itself came from VP's original post "Dinner Time". 

The idea is to put together a fantasy dinner party. VP already invited today's Birthday Boy, Charles Darwin, but I think I'm going to do the same again... (Especially as this post is a double meme-whammy, because this week I'm also "Blogging for Darwin". Check out loads of other Darwin posts this week using their sidebar.)

So my first guest is Charles Darwin. I have spent the last month reading most of Darwin's letters, so whilst VP thought he sounded a bit grumpy in the letter auctioned recently down her way, actually I've been immersed in hundreds of his letters about dogs which were all incredibly cute. One, about the death of a dog, actually made me cry. And some of his letters are hilarious - he was very, very funny when he chose to be. I reckon he'll be an okay dinner guest. Especially when he hears who else I'm inviting...

I'm also having Mark Chase, head of the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew. Mark Chase is head of the group responsible for changing all those plant family names about fourteen times each... Ha ha that makes it sound bad. No: for me personally, the Kew APG group has done some of the most interesting, amazing scientific work ever... working out by DNA analysis exactly how the flowering plants are all related to one another, and tracing them back to their single common ancestor. Darwin would be thrilled to meet Mark Chase and would pick his brains all evening, while other guests got to earwig the world-class conversation. 

Next I am going to invite Julia from A Bigger Pot. This is partly because she lives pretty much round the corner from me, but we've never actually managed to meet! But also I think she would relish my other guests, being paleontologically-minded herself. And I'm sure Darwin would enjoy hearing some of the latest news from a field he loved. 

I might also invite Lara Jewitt who is the team leader of the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew - she is a totally good laugh, knows loads about how to grow big tropical plants (she could give me and Julia some hints) and also can tell us some stories about her badly behaved piranas. 

As a treat for myself, Darwin and maybe Julia, though I don't know her views on the subject, I am also going to invite Richard Fortey. He's a top class trilobite man but also a popular science writer - his most recent is "Dry Store Room No 1", about what goes on behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum. I went to a talk there that he gave in the autumn about evolution and he was really interesting. And jolly. I rate jolliness quite high. 

And I'm also going to invite another Richard, Richard Mabey. Though he often seems in print like a rather lonesome and melancholy person, I interviewed him once and he was delightful so I'm definitely having him. I'll tell him, "come on, the food's for free!".

And as a love interest I'm having Tom Hart-Dyke partly because he is irrepressibly entertaining and partly because I just think he is hot. 

Now I feel rather short of agreeable female company, so I would like to return the invitation to my fellow bloggers; some of you I have encountered in real life already, but I'd really particularly love to get together with a few of you I've never met! Yolanda! Kate Manic! Oh my god how will I narrow it down with such a wealth of talent? 

And finally I would like to ensure my party goes with a bang, and so there's two guests whose attendance is essential. I would like both Nigel Colborn and James A-S, who I am convinced will ensure the whole evening is one to be engraved into memory. Plus they both have such a way with words that I will (for once) be able to just shut up and listen. 

Um sorry I know i've gone over the limit for numbers... but five isn't enough for real dinner fun! Now let's get eating! 

(before you get all indignant about my steak joke, Darwin ate iguana when he was on the voyage of the Beagle.)


VP said...

Brilliant Emma! I've added your post to the DP Mr Linky over at my place - hope you don't mind.

I must get my thinking cap for a Darwin blog piece - have a piece about Kew in mind. Unfortunately my photo of the herbarium is on a slide.

I must come back and read this in more detail later - in a bit of a rush this morning as it's also NAH's aunt's birthday, so we're off to Poole for the day.

VP said...

PS I only think Darwin got a bit snippy because he was THE celebrity figure of his day and literally everyone was writing to him, asking questions etc. etc.

And he was such a prolific letter writer anyway, so some of it was probably down to him.

Looking through his archives must be a real privilege :)

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Thanks for the invite Emma but I'll pass on the Iguana if you don't mind.

Your party sounds rather high brow which is just my cup of tea as my own brow is so high that you'll find people abseiling from it on most weekends.

Would love to meet Darwin; I'm very much into genetics. (Uh oh, my inner nerd is showing, best make a hasty retreat while I'm still ahead.)

BTW I have a great solution for the not having met prob, you'll find it on Bliss.

emmat said...

It is a real privilege, but it's open to everyone with an internet connection!

Cliquez ici as they say in France...

James A-S said...

I am terribly thrilled to have been asked, thank you. However, I feel that I should warn you that Nigel tends to behave terribly badly at parties: he is a terrible influence and, apparently, was responsible for much of Bob Flowerdew's more outrageous behaviour during recordings of Gardeners' Question Time.
I don't want to rake up painful memories but there was a time when he drove the NCCPG minibus through the front window of a Little Chef near Chelmsford and the less said about the Baby-Bio punch orgy of 1989 the better.
In contrast I am the picture of decorum and good manners.

emmat said...

oh well in that case maybe I'll invite Bob flowerdew instead

Julia said...

Haha - lovely! Sounds like a brilliant dinner party and I should be delighted to attend. Despite spending a year in the palaeontology department at the NHM I've never had a chance to chat to Richard Fortey, so that would be awesome!

VP said...

Trilobites are my favourite fossil so Richard Fortey was on my shortlist too. Can I sneak in too please?

emmat said...

ha ha. Well only if you promise not to eat more than your fair share of Iguana - remember, FHB