Bring a plate!
The three little words sat so cheerily at the bottom of the invitation.
So simple, so innocuous, so friendly.
Because it wasn’t just a plate, was it, thought Alex O’Rourke as she removed a tray of shop-bought spinach and cheese triangles from the oven. After all, any old clown could turn up to a party with a piece of dining-ware. She had a million plates and platters that did nothing more than collect dust in her kitchen cupboard. They’d love an outing to a party!
She started stabbing at the formerly frozen pastries with a spoon.
‘Hmmm … something smells good.’ Alex’s husband, James, sauntered into the kitchen and peered over her shoulder. ‘Did you make these?’
He went to pick up a triangle and Alex tapped his hand away. ‘Of course I didn’t make them.’ She stabbed again to make divots in the golden pillows.
‘What are you doing? You’re ruining them. They’re perfect. Stop it.’ James put out his hand to shield the defenceless triangles.
‘They’re too perfect,’ said Alex. ‘No one will ever believe I made them. Maybe if I just burn them a little …’ She went to open the oven door but James stood in front of it, arms folded.
‘No one cares if you bought them from a shop. You have twins. A full-time job. The neighbours don’t expect pastry made from scratch.’
Alex looked at him. Her sweet, supportive husband, trying to be so millennial, while completely failing to understand that some things never changed, like the meaning of that god-awful phrase bring a plate, which meant today what it had always meant – that a plate of homemade food was to be produced (exceptions could be made for foodstuffs by a celebrity chef. A Zumbo cake, for instance, could be forgiven) and, as keeper of the social diary, the responsibility for such provision lay in the hands of the woman of the house.
Bring a plate was the phrase that time forgot.