I accompanied my wife to her previous workplace's "Christmas party" round at her boss' house last night. My God.
I must say that I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for getting through it without screaming out (though I was yelling loudly within - a strange feeling - shutting out the experience with white noise).
There are some situations that I'm just not built for, and dinner parties with the "its -politically-correct-gone-mad" brigade are one of them. A number of times I really felt an interjection rising, only for common sense (and fear) to thankfully stop me.
I didn't want to let Mrs Powersurge down by arguing with her ex-colleagues, and I didn't want my lack of articulacy to let myself down when faced with the resounding certainty of someone who won't accept that they're wrong and life isn't always as simple as they think.
A very strange atmosphere as well, with no-one wanting to put a foot wrong in front of the boss. I hate all the back-sniping that happens at these things, and I hate that sensation that there's a very dark underbelly lurking just under the surface of the conversation, daring itself to rear its ugly head. Thankfully it didn't.
Still, these things are an experience, and most undamaging experiences are good in some way. And it reminded me that "high" society in Britain is still very much a poisoned chalice.
OK, maybe I have read to much into it, but I can't deny how it made me feel. But the whole thing, with the boss' wife and children waiting on us hand and foot, had a certain unease. It was like something out of a dark comedy, with tinges of Pinter's "The Birthday Party" or Brydon & Davis' "Human Remains" about it.
It made me glad for my own simple life, however tricky the twists and turns may be.