Dis­parate Housewives

City Wife is a dab hand with a clutch of credit cards but can be eas­ily dis­tracted

Berkshire Life - - Front Page -

Ineed to stop mas­ti­cat­ing. No, re­ally. And not be­cause my crab balls aren’t sali­vat­ingly sat­is­fy­ing (they are) but the spec­ta­cle of a young man swing­ing on a trapeze over­head, his min­i­mal­ist out­fit ex­pos­ing a com­mend­able com­mit­ment to fit­ness, is too much of a dis­trac­tion. Not only for me.

City Wife, I see, is also lick­ing her lips. Odds on, the shell­fish starter isn’t re­spon­si­ble. Still, it takes en­thu­si­as­tic clap­ping from hun­dreds of au­di­ence mem­bers to res­ur­rect an air of re­al­ity.

Cir­cus acts have moved on a bit my friend sighs while sum­mon­ing more cham­pagne. She’s right. Never mind child­hood rec­ol­lec­tions of clowns bran­dish­ing over­sized, colour­ful ex­trem­i­ties, this is the Na­tional Cen­tre for Cir­cus Arts and the so­phis­ti­cated ta­lent they nur­ture these days is more lip­stick than slap­stick. Our breath­ing fi­nally back to nor­mal, we fin­ish off the Gala Din­ner’s first course.

Such ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity is, we agree, a far cry from the peak of our ac­ro­batic skills: cart­wheels, per­fected in the school play­ground dur­ing an era when tuck­ing your dress into your knicker legs was nei­ther un­usual nor provoca­tive.

It’s only af­ter some jug­glers have fin­ished, and we’re load­ing roast po­ta­toes onto our plates to ac­com­pany in­di­vid­ual racks of lamb, that CW sud­denly recog­nises who’s sit­ting nearby.

Look, a cou­ple of A* celebs, 2 o’clock, she gushes. If you mean the award win­ning ac­tors on the next ta­ble, yeah, the mar­ried cou­ple are reg­u­lar sup­port­ers of this event. But, no, it wouldn’t be ap­pro­pri­ate to in­tro­duce them to one of your nu­mer­ous busi­ness ven­tures. Lis­ten, sug­gest­ing Kumquat Ther­apy (tar­gets in­ner thigh cir­cu­la­tory is­sues, ap­par­ently) is a touch in­sen­si­tive.

How­ever, with the pos­si­bil­ity of new best friends from the the­atri­cal world about whom she can boast to her Fifty Grades of Clay mod­el­ling group, CW will not be de­terred. And that’s when a live auc­tion plays into her hands. The top prize is a pair of West End the­atre tick­ets fol­lowed by din­ner with the th­es­pian duo. Auc­tion­eers are canny peo­ple. They don’t bother tempt­ing peo­ple to hand over cash at the be­gin­ning of the evening when ev­ery­one still has an aura of com­mon sense about them. No, they wait un­til the event is well un­der way. Be­cause that’s when wine con­sump­tion and com­mon sense are poles apart. So although the start­ing fig­ure for this par­tic­u­lar auc­tion prize is at a mod­est three fig­ures, the price soon es­ca­lates faster than Don­ald Trump’s Twit­ter ram­blings. But this doesn’t dis­cour­age CW. She for­ages in her de­signer clutch for a batch of pre­mium mem­ber credit cards. If only that text from her Style Coun­sel­lor wasn’t such a dis­trac­tion. While re­spond­ing that, ac­tu­ally, her hem­line this evening de­manded nude rather than black strappy stilet­tos de­spite pro­fes­sional ad­vice to the con­trary and she’ll can­cel her con­tract if any fur­ther crit­i­cism comes her way, a black tie clad gent on the other side of the room bags the win­ning bid.

It takes a dou­ble por­tion of choco­late dipped ly­chees to pacify my friend, by which time the golden cou­ple are long gone. Later, as we leave, we spot some adult work­shop leaflets. Hmm, are you up for this? Should be fun, my friend agrees, while hail­ing a cab. But then we re­mem­ber those skimpy out­fits. And over zeal­ous stretch­ing. Not to men­tion our sense of bal­ance which, let’s face it, is in menopausal de­cline, and de­cide that, all things con­sid­ered, cir­cus an­tics are best left to the pro­fes­sion­als.

‘The price soon es­ca­lates faster than Don­ald Trump’s Twit­ter ram­blings’

ABOVE:All we can say is ‘Don’t try this at home’

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