The Daily Telegraph

One way to fail a dinner party inspection

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sir – We gave a dinner party (Letters, September 14) for Inspector Clouseau some 40 years ago.

Not the fictional one, of course, but a real live Frenchman, who was so similar to the Peter Sellers version in words, deeds and appearance (trench coat and moustache) as to be indistingu­ishable.

“What is thees English mustard?” he scoffed as he picked up the pot and proceeded to plaster it on the meat as though it came from Dijon.

As it hit him, his eyes filled with tears and he sputtered: “Mais, mais, mais, c’est seulement la moutarde extra-forte!”

Today’s bland version would hardly warrant a whimper.

Philip Styles

Cheddar, Somerset

sir – With regard to dinner party crises, I remember hearing a story about when my aunt – at the time, the newly married wife of a naval officer – was hosting her first dinner party at Scapa Flow during the Second World War.

The main course was some steak, which, as a novice cook, she been told to “pass under the grill”. Needless to say it was underdone, and everyone agreed that more cooking was required. So the plates went back to the oven.

Unfortunat­ely, when the food returned to the table, it transpired that the cutlery had gone in too – and the knife handles had melted.

Michael Graham-cloete

Ifold, West Sussex

sir – Just before a dinner party at our house I had an acute attack of mouth ulcers, making it impossible to eat or talk. I said I could not possibly sit through the event.

My wife refused to cancel – as recommende­d by William Sitwell (Features, September 9) – as she had spent a long time preparing the dishes, and so got her mother to stand in for me.

Two things stick in my mind: first, none of the guests seemed to notice I wasn’t present; and, secondly, the one put in charge of keeping the wine flowing in my absence did so most enthusiast­ically, resulting in inebriated and incapable diners, and a significan­t hole in my wine cellar.

Loser on loser, as the bridge term goes.

Robert Hurlow

Marnhull, Dorset

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