An English dialogue between two friends about English culture.
Gregory is telling about what English garden parties are like.
Fred (B&B proprietor): Gregory, since you’re interested in English culture, there’s something you shouldn’t overlook.
Gregory: What is it?
F.: I mean English gardens parties. Have you ever been to one?
G.: Even to two. One was in Bournemouth and the other in Christchurch.
F.: Were they similar?
G.: No, quite different.
F.: What was the one in Bournemouth like?
G.: Well, to begin with, admission was £ 3, which I think was too high.
F.: Was there a concessionary rate for OAPs?
G.: No, it was flat. Young and old were to pay the same. Besides, men were to bring a bottle of wine each.
F.: And what was there at the party?
G.: The guests first went to the kitchen where the hostess handed each a plate of salad and small sausages. Then, plate in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, the guests went into the garden. There was an open-air concert: a violin, a clarinet and a singer. The guests were eating, drinking, listening to the music and talking.
F.: What about?
G.: For the most part, it was gossiping about the hosts. Most agreed that the only purpose of the party was to make money at their expense. As for the Christchurch garden party, I remember it was originally to be given on July 13th, weather permitting (see p. 47). But the weather wouldn’t permit it then, the party was rained off and had to be retimed.
F.: And how was it when it did take place?
G.: Absolutely different. The purpose of the party was to raise money for Oxfam, Epicentre and for the upkeep of Victorian gardens.
F.: Oxfam is a charity organization helping people in poorer countries. But what is Epicentre?
G.: That’s what local Greens and CND members call their centre.
F.: But you also mentioned the upkeep of Victorians gardens.
G.: Yes, the point is that the developers wanted to do away with the gardens and build tall modern office blocks instead. A lot of people in Christchurch opposed the idea saying that Christchurch would lose its identity and become a dull modern city.
F.: But why do you say ‘Victorian gardens’?
G.: Because they have been there since the XIX century. They are spacious gardens with a canal running through them and even two donkeys grazing there since time immemorial. The gardens, the canal and the donkeys all need looking after.
F.: How was the party?
G.: Admission was lower than in Bournemouth. I cant name the exact figure because they let me in for free.
G.: As a guest from far-off Russia. Food could be bought there at very low prices, practically for a song. Those who felt like it could learn knitting and embroidery from elderly women who were only too glad to teach the younger generation. There was a self-service jumble sale. Anyone could pick up anything they liked and donate as much as they pleased. There were special glass boxes where you could drop your coins and banknotes.
F.: So the general atmosphere there was quite different.
G.: Yes, and the motivation was not personal gain, but a noble cause.