For many of the British middle classes, January is a time of weekend visits to friend's houses – usually the result of having tried to organise something over Christmas, and then saying “let’s do something in the New Year” (while secretly hoping that in reality you’ll both forget).
This is fine so long as you have a good host, or you know the people very well, but I’ve just come back from a visit to people I don’t know all that well, and at times it was awful. Most awful were the evenings when we sat around supposedly “just chilling” and watching TV, mainly because our hosts clearly had programmes they wanted to watch, but felt obliged to ask my boyfriend and I what we wanted.
If I suggested something that they obviously didn’t like, I felt like I was imposing my choice on them (“fine, no, we’ve never watched Celebrity Big Brother, it’ll be interesting!”). If I let them choose, but then talked too much over footage of African wildebeest, they replied in tense monosyllables. If they chose and I then mistakenly revealed I’d seen the programme before, they went into a flurry of apologies and insisted on changing the channel and beginning the tortuous process yet again.
I sometimes wonder if the middle classes are still not quite comfortable with the television; whatever, it’s all quite enough to make me long for proper middle class evening entertainments such as Scrabble or Bridge.