Why Stephen Fry isn’t coming to dinner.

To celebrate the end of my concentrated spell of inactivity I thought a star-studded gala supper was called for. Followers of my musings will know of the fundraising project I have been undertaking in memory of Robin Williams to raise money for Mind mental health charity. You will also know that my Sponsored Nothing is scheduled for completion on July 21st, which is Robin William’s birthday. With the event known and the date set, all that remained for me to do was draw up a guest list.

But, how does one go about selecting who will attend such a soirée?

Most people have played the game whereby you can choose who you would invite to your ideal dinner party. I always think it strange that this is such a popular game, considering that whenever it is played, all the so-called friends around the table are immediately omitted from the list. But, would it work for a real dinner party?

Anyway, given the freedom to choose absolutely anyone, where does one start?

A-listers.

People’s lists will naturally vary depending on the social circles in which they move. For some people, the top contenders are Gandhi, Mandela and Einstein, whereas to a different demographic the most interesting people they can think of will be Katie Price, Joey Essex and The Cheeky Girls. Some guests are riskier choices than others. If Andy Warhol is on your list, be warned that he may try to make an art installation from the soup course, and if you invite David Blaine, don’t let him use the bathroom because he will probably try to spend the next six days underwater in your bath.

Stephen Fry is on (& off) the list.

Stephen Fry is on almost everybody’s list, so he is obviously the first name I write down. Unfortunately, because of his universal popularity and insatiable desire to work he will most likely be either dining at someone else’s ideal dinner party, hosting an award ceremony, receiving an award, presenting an award, filming, writing, acting, or just having a quiet night in front of Twitter. Essentially, I can see he would be a nightmare to track down without at least three years notice, so he is the first name crossed off my list.

Dead famous writers.

Writers are a popular choice and Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens all feature very highly on people’s lists. My hopes are soon dashed, when a quick check of the address book confirms my suspicions that they are all dead. The usual rules of the dinner-party-list-game make it possible to choose anyone, dead or alive, but for this gala I think some degree of life would be useful. Apparently, Shakespeare is also no longer with us. Nor is Homer, Hardy or Hemingway. If it is to be a writer, it clearly has to be a living one. There must be someone on my bookcase. Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Roald Dahl soon join the rapidly growing not-on-the-list list.

Besides intellectuals, poets and Nobel peace laureates, another common choice of guest is entertainers. With John Lennon, Bob Marley and Frank Sinatra all on the currently-dead list, my quest takes me elsewhere for entertainment talent. Sadly, Kanye West is still with us, but following his performance at Glastonbury he is no longer classed as an entertainer and fortunately not eligible to be selected. The only problem is that he may still turn up and try to declare himself ‘the greatest living dinner guest on the planet’. If this should happen I will merely tell him that there is nowhere to plug in his karaoke machine (sorry, I mean backing band) and that will hopefully shut him up.

If a musician must be included, I might have invited Sting, but ever since I told him in front of a very large group of people that his show sounded terrible, he hasn’t spoken to me. Some people are so touchy. So, that’s Sting off the list and Kanye West was never on it.

Having a laugh.

Usually, the whole idea of a dinner party is an evening of pleasant company and enjoyable conversation, so who is most likely to be able to provide it? Comedians. So, onto the list went Lee Evans, Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly, until I realised that with those three on form and in full flow it would be nigh on impossible to hear what one was saying over the others. Comedians clearly don’t function in packs. They all came off the list.

I never imagined that selecting a guest list could be so hard. It looks as if it will be just me then.

Dinner for one.

On reflection, maybe that is as it should be. After all, the event is in memory of the man who said:

“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

A poignant statement from a man who was loved by so many, and a lesson to us that mental health can cast its blackness across the brightest of lights.

When you are next sitting down to a meal with friends and family, give a thought for those struggling with the loneliness of mental health. Remember that loneliness is not just a case of having no one to dine with. It can be an inner isolation that goes unnoticed because it is cloaked behind a smile. If someone so full of creative energy and loved by so many could feel lost and lonely, it is a lesson to us all that the mind is a fragile and powerful place.

If you would like to read more about ‘Mork & Mind’, or to make a donation, please click here to visit my virginmoneygiving page.

Donate to Mork & Mind

Maybe you would like to be part of the gala by donating the price of a ‘ready meal for one’ and join us around the virtual table to help Mind.

Some company would be nice though.

If only I could find an actor, a writer, an entertainer, a comedian, a raconteur…

I wonder if Stephen Fry is available.

Photo by dullhunk


Originally posted on Richard Heddington’s blog Hedsite

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