After Saphirra’s ‘Come Dine With Me’ a few weeks ago, I must say that my confidence at hosting amazing dinner parties has somewhat waned. Read about that HERE.
Saphirra excels at entertaining and leaves nothing to chance – especially when there’s a prize up for grabs. She loves going out too and is always the last person to leave a party, which is usually the following morning! That’s okay though, because she always does the cleaning up before she leaves. (This is possibly the reason why she gets invited to so many parties!)
Mohotma Coatalay never fully got over not winning our last dining competition two years ago. Whenever it gets mentioned, she utters through her teeth how Saphirra deserved it. But there’s no mistaking the bitterness in her voice.
She may not have won, but she really did host an excellent dinner party and her efforts were outstanding. Her theme was Halloween – even though it was still September – and she pulled out all the stops. Here’s where she excelled on the night:
- She sent out custom made Halloween invitations which displayed the menu for the night.
- We began the evening outdoors on the veranda where we enjoyed drinks and canapes. The garden is magnificent and Mohotma had it sprinkled with tealights nestled in little glass jars.
- Her food was outstanding. Made with fresh and mostly homegrown ingredients. Eyeballs and fingers floated gruesomely in the soup – because of the Halloween theme. Her blancmange was a pink and wobbly brain!
- Entertainment for the evening was a fun Halloween quiz. I won that!! 😊 Ghoulish hits such as Bat Outta Hell, Monster Mash and Thriller had us dancing the night away! Oh… t’was a fantastic dinner party indeed! My party night was very boring in comparison.
It was unfortunate that she lost points on very simple things like this:
- “How do you like your meat done?” – “Medium please.” – “yas’ll take it whatever way yas get it!”
- Neglecting to offer just one particular guest a drink upon arrival – when everyone else in the room had been given one.
- Getting help in the kitchen. Sorry… but cooking skills are a key part of the competition and rules are rules!
- She placed an attractive EMPTY water jug on the table and when one particular guest requested a glass of water she got told by Mohotma Coatalay, “you know where the tap is”.
- Although she didn’t lose points for this little act, I feel the need to point it out anyway – she placed a large bunch of her sister’s home-grown grapes on the end of a branch in her greenhouse and pretended she grew them herself! Then served us grapes from Tesco!
You see, Mohotma would have likely won the competition outright, if she’d just been a bit more attentive to her guests, like Saphirra was. She paid more attention to her Hungarian friend Katinka, who wasn’t even in the competition! Mohotma and katinka have a lot in common you see. They both met fifteen years ago in Ballymena while protesting against ‘Premature Christmas Decorating’.
They got talking and have been friends since. Katinka and her husband Gergely moved from Hungary many years ago and they now live in Cavan.
No doubt Mohotma Coataly has learned many lessons from her Halloween themed dinner party that September back in 2015. Yes…I’m sure she has!
The dinner guests;
Ebenezer Halliday played by Cáit – a self-made American millionaire and the father of the murdered woman. Loud and brash. Used to getting his own way. The father of Flossie Carrington, the woman who has just been murdered.
Count de la Rochfour played by Vera – A French nobleman with a reputation as a lady-killer. Suave and charming. Knew Flossie before she was married.
Jane Mason played by Tess – The cockney maid of the murdered woman. Employed as a ladies’ maid by Flossie Carrington. Humble, respectful and demure.
Rupert Carrington played by Tasheenga – The husband of the murdered woman. A playboy gambler, formerly a Guards Officer. Comes from an old, wealthy family. Suave and snobbish.
Alec Simpson played by Mohotma Coatalay – A Scottish engineer. Quiet, thoughtful and shy. A decent honest working man but comes across as being a little bit shifty!
Lady Swansea played by Mindy – A wealthy socialite and hostess. The head of a very established catholic family. Also the owner of Avonmead Court, a big house in the West Country. Proud and very snobbish.
Marie Mignon played by Saphirra – A renowned French beauty, the companion of Count de la Rochefour. Haughty and glamorous, Marie Mignon is one of the leading beauties in fashionable French society.
Jessica Lyle played by Katinka – American older half-sister of the murdered woman (same mother). Brash and aggressive. First time in England.
Hercule Poirot played by himself – A Belgian detective, notoriously famous for solving all murderous crimes. No matter how mysterious – no matter how heinous!
Let the Party Begin!
The year was 1924 – the same year Patricia the Stripper was made famous – and Ebenezer Halliday invited a number of people to join him in his home for dinner. It was a bright summers evening in May and dinner was scheduled for 7.30pm.
As the guests arrived one by one, Ebenezer welcomed them and brief introductions took place for the benefit of those who were complete strangers to each other.
Still unsure as to the reason for this gathering, the guests exchanged pleasantries and settled down at the lavishly decorated dining table. Ebenezer was a man of expensive taste and this was reflected by the pair of Victorian Silver Candelabra that embellished his table.
It didn’t go unnoticed that the shifty-looking Alec Simpson couldn’t take his beady little eyes of the expensive silverware! Rupert Carrington was keeping a tight eye on the humble Scotsman.
Rupert was also keeping a close eye on the alluring Marie Mignon, who was sitting next to him. With a reputation as a bit of a playboy, Rupert drivelled at the mouth every time she spoke to him in her sexy accent. Especially when on several occasions she murmured ‘no.. no.. no..’! It easily conveyed the opposite message ‘yes.. yes.. yes..’! Her tone and body language was quite confusing for randy Rupert!
Saphirra was quite the bombshell, playing the part of a desirable young woman. And the French accent came very natural to her. Her revealing black lace dress accentuated her shapely figure. Yes, she was quite comfortable in the character of Ms. Mignon!
As the hungry guests awaited the arrival of food, another gentleman was making his way to the townhouse of Ebenezer Halliday.
Brendan Rathvill pulled into the driveway in one of his finest black cabs. Out steps a little man about 5ft 4. He was dressed in the finest of clothes and wore black patent shoes that shined more than Ebenezer’s candelabra.
The dining room was silenced as everybody watched through the window at the strange little man approaching the door. His head was the shape of an egg and his hair blacker than the blackest shade of black. (Was very black!) His impeccably waxed moustache was indeed just as black.
Ebenezer fetched him in and he introduced himself in a Belgian accent to the group of blank faces.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Hercule Poirot and I am here to investigate the most recent murder of Flossie Carrington.” His eyes moved accusingly around the room .
“You have all being invited here this evening to help me with my investigations. I have been called upon by Ebenezer Halliday to solve the mystery surrounding Flossie’s death. Each of you are suspects and I do believe that the murderer is in this room.”
“I do not approve of Murder!” he pronounced.
A solemn little man.
Everybody was shocked to think that they were being suspected of such a heinous crime.
Rupert wasn’t at all impressed at being called a widower and was disgruntled at his new title as it made him feel old. This didn’t impress Flossie’s father, Ebenezer, and he made it very clear to Rupert that he was watching him – closely! Ebenezer was indeed a very angry man!
Old Ebenezer was also keeping a tight eye on Count de la Rochefour. He was aware that Rochefour knew his Flossie – intimately – before her marriage to Rupert. Even though Rochefour insisted that they had both moved on, Ebenezer was still suspicious of the French womaniser.
Count de la Rochefour’s companion, Marie Mignon, was at a loss as to why she had been summoned here as a suspect, because she claimed that she had never even met Flossie.
Ms. Mignon was being quite flirtatious with the honourable Rupert, (even though it wasn’t in the script) so it appeared that she had little respect for the dead woman!
Jessica Lyle began to wail rather dramatically at this point. (Her accent a mixture of London, Cavan and Texan.)
“Oh my beautiful sista Flossie. How could anybody be so cruel?” Sob sob sob….
“I may not have known her awfully well, because when my poppa died,” louder sobs…. “my mom got married to Mr. Halliday here, and I got left behind. But I still loved her!” head in hands, the wails continued!
Was there a slightly venomous tone in the whimpers of Jessica Lyle? Or was it just an emotionless cry to pretend that she actually cared for her late half-sister?
Jane Mason spoke quietly with her head down.
“I know it’s not my place to say, but I’ll miss her too. She was always a good mistress to me, she really was. To think that I was the last person to see her alive.” She wiped an invisible tear from the corner of her eye and an equally invisible drip from her nose.
Tess is American and so far, she wasn’t doing a great job at giving her character a cockney accent!
Alec Simpson the ‘Scottish’ engineer pipes up in an almost perfect Belfast accent,
“Well you may be the last person to see her alive but I was certainly the first person to see her dead!”
“Ach aye….” He added – a little late!
Last at the table to speak since Hercule Poirot arrived, was the proud Lady Swansea.
“I feel most terribly guilty. As you all know, I am Lady Swansea and Flossie was on her way to my ball. And instead she found herself face to face with a murderer. It’s all too horrible for words.”
Lady Swansea bleated into a white lace handkerchief, making sure not to let any tears escape, for fear of smudging her caked on mascara or smearing her rosy rouge.
Mindy here was quite the little actress.
To help solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot distributed three exhibits of evidence for inspection.
Exhibit A: a rail map outlining Flossie’s train journey.
Exhibit B: a love letter to Flossie from Count de la Rochefour. A letter that discloses the fact that he and Flossie have been writing to each other in secret. He tells her how much he looks forward to meeting her again – perhaps sooner than she thinks!!
Exhibit C: a second letter addressing Flossie Carrington. The sender is the woman who claims to have never met Flossie – Marie Mignon! In the letter, Mignon requests that Flossie is not to speak to her should they meet at Lady Swansea’s ball, because she insists they have nothing to say to each other.
After much discussion and questioning, the events leading up to Flossie’s death were becoming apparent.
Flossie was travelling in a first-class carriage on the train from London. Her maid, Jane, was travelling in a third-class carriage. When the train stopped in Bristol, Jane made her way to first-class to help her mistress. But Flossie had altered her plans and wasn’t getting off in Bristol because something had happened. She told her maid to take her luggage and wait for her at the station.
There was a man with Flossie in the carriage. The maid didn’t see his face.
Four stops later in Newton Abbot, Alec Simpson got on the train and discovered Flossie’s dead body.
Alec Simpson questioned Count de la Rochefour in a Muff accent.
“What exactly did you mean in your letter, that you would see Flossie sooner than she thought?” he probed accusingly.
“Why, I wrote to Flossie merely to inform her that I was in England. I know Flossie was not happy in her marriage and I thought she might like to meet up with old friend. Me! That is all! I hoped to meet her at Lady Swansea’s ball but she did not know I was coming…so I surprise her!”
Vera studied French at school so her accent was impeccable.
Rochefour challenged Rupert Carrington.
“So, is this true Carrington? Flossie was not happy! Were you happy?”
Rupert spluttered, (he speaks as if his tonsils are playing volleyball with a pea and his lips are afraid of his teeth.)
“Well now, I loved dear Flossie with all my heart and we were blissfully happy when we got married but somehow things went wrong and we drifted apart. Clash of cultures perhaps.”
Ebenezer bellowed across the (hungry) table, challenging Rupert.
“You always seemed to be short of money Carrington. Is this still the case? Did you only marry my daughter for her money?”
“Halliday, olde boi, calm down now. It’s true I did have a bit of a bad time with the old horses and at the backgammon table recently, but that has nothing to do with Flossie’s murder Halliday. Nothing whatsoever! You are a veury angry man Halliday! Veury angry man!”
Count de la Rochefour was intrigued at this point. He turned to Ebenezer and asked,
“I know you never liked me Mr. Halliday and you were not happy I was seeing Flossie. But what do you really think of your son-in-law here?”
“Rupert Carrington was not worthy of my daughter Flossie. He is but a scoundrel and a gambler. If I’d been in the country at the time of the wedding, I would have put a stop to it.”
Halliday was loud. Cait was doing a good job. It appeared that she was enjoying playing the role of a loud domineering rich man.
Alec Simpson interrupted the argument to confront Jessica Lyle. He questioned about her reasons for being in England.
“Ma sista Flossie an I, ain’t seen each other for maany years. I came here ta catch up with her. I’ve only bin here a couple a weeks an I didn’t get a chance to see her.”
Yep…Katinka was certainly getting used to the American twang. No doubt about it!
“Yer bum’s oot the windae!” Simpson replied.
In other parts of the world this means, ‘you’re talking rubbish’.
The quiet Jane dared to speak again. Looking sideways at Jessica she said,
“I have never heard my mistress speak about you. You can’t have been that close.”
Ohh …..Jessica Lyle didn’t appreciate being challenged by a common maid! She glared at Jane and told her in an aggressive tone it was not her business.
Dinner is Served
Hercule Poirot suggested a break in the ‘discussion’ so that the half-drunken guests could soak up some of the wine consumed. Voices were reaching a level of 120 decibels and Poirot was getting a little agitated.
Okay…..hats off to Mohotma Coatalay! She is succeeding in hosting a super dinner party. An expert in the field of multitasking, she is directing the scenes in the game, she is playing the part of Alec Simpson and managing to cook dinner as well! Mmm…..Saphirra is jealous. I am not! At all!
Mohotma Coatalay served the main course. I won’t go hard on her for not bothering with a starter because we did have some hors d’oeuvres in the sitting room on arrival, (fancy crisps, grapes and something wrapped in bacon) which I forgot to mention. Hand on heart, it’s amazing what she has achieved so far, when you consider all the mistakes she made last time! Don’t get me wrong…….her cooking is of a very high standard but this is a competition after all!
The main course was divine. Even though I don’t eat chicken, it was still delicious! Mohotma knows I don’t eat chicken but she also knows that when she starves me long enough, I’ll eat anything. Hunger is a great sauce!!
Dessert arrived and when I saw only the wee size of it in the dish, I reached for my notebook to deduct a point. We’re Irish! We eat big desserts.
Rhubarb and cream. Oh My God!! I licked the bowl clean. Not only did it bring back precious memories of my childhood, it satisfied every ounce of sweet cravings I had. And I have to admit, I was so full up, I wouldn’t have accepted seconds – if it had been offered. I was just being greedy at first.
I erased the minus one. I’m a good friend you see!
Back to the Task in Hand
As soon as the multitasking Mohotma Coataly cleared the table, Poirot was on his feet keen to continue with his investigations.
He distributed another three exhibits of evidence for his guests to inspect.
Exhibit D: a written statement from a Mr. Tynan, who sells newspapers at Weston Station. He claimed that a lady with a funny accent dressed in blue bought a magazine from his stall. She then got back on the train to Plymouth. This was on the same day as Flossie’s murder and Flossie was wearing blue when she was found dead in the carriage!
Exhibit E: a letter written by Ebenezer Halliday to his daughter Flossie, expressing his disappointment at her for disgracing the family. He was a laughing stock and he was going to put a stop to it once and for all. He signed the letter as ‘Long-suffering Pops’.
Exhibit F: a solicitor’s letter addressed to Flossie Carrington summarizing the contents of her will. Primarily, the bulk of her estate will pass in the event of her death to her husband Rupert and her half-sister, Jessica Lyle will receive an allowance.
Well now! This caused quite a stir among the guests at the table. Accusations spat from mouth to mouth. Sweat was hopping as everyone interrogated each other, each one trying to convince the other of their innocence.
Marble Mouth Rupert was quick to challenge Ebenezer.
“Threatening my dear Flossie like that! What exactly did you mean you would ‘put a stop’ to her behaviour?”
Then Lady Swansea whimpered……..
“And what did you mean Mr. Halliday when you said that Flossie was bringing disgrace on the family name? And in what way have you become a laughing stock? Apart from the obvious!”
Ebenezer was quick to defend himself.
“Yes yes, it sounds a little threatening I know. But I didn’t mean it like that. I was merely encouraging my daughter to get a divorce. She was clearly unhappy with this excuse for a man and there was so much gossip. It was time to put a stop to it all! She agreed with me and was about to start divorce proceedings.”
More insinuations and revelations were aired as the evening wore on and at this point every guest was a sure suspect.
- Lady Swansea had no witnesses to where she was on the afternoon of the murder but she was in her car and not on the train. It was suggested that she was impersonating Flossie at the newspaper stand that day – which she claimed was utter nonsense as apart from anything else, how would she know what clothes to wear!
- The broke gambler, Rupert Carrington stood to inherit a lot of money now that his wife was dead. But he denies being a murderer.
- Ebenezer Halliday hated the shame his daughter brought on the family name. He disapproved of her past relationship with Count De La Rochefour and claims he didn’t realise they were in touch with each other again.
- It was revealed that De La Rochefour never even loved Flossie – she was in love with him!
- Marie Mignon is in love with De La Rochefour and may have being jealous of his relationship with Flossie.
- Alec Simpson had no ticket to travel in the first-class train carriage where he found the body of Flossie. He wouldn’t be able to afford it! It was also revealed that Flossie’s jewel case was missing and Simpson hadn’t been searched after he reported finding the body.
- Deprived Jessica Lyle was to receive money from Flossie’s will – but is it enough to kill for? However, it is a coincidence that she arrived in the country just before Flossie was murdered!
- Jane Mason, the maid, got off the train at Bristol claiming that Flossie was to meet her at the station there. Flossie never got off the train and Jane stayed in a hotel that night. Mason had access to all Flossie’s possessions. Did she kill Flossie for her jewels?
The Killer is Revealed
Hercule Poirot shadowed the table as he produced his final exhibit of evidence.
A Transcript of Extract From the Diary of Flossie Carrington
…Apparently that terrible Jessica Lyle woman has turned up again. Will she ever leave me alone? I know I have an obligation to my mother’s daughter, but surely Pops has already done all that needed to be done. I can’t have her following me all over the world, complaining about how hard done by she’s been. She knows that we move in very different circles, and she’s just trying to embarrass me…
Poirot spoke directly to Jessica Lyle.
“It’s true Ms. Lyle that your father worked for Ebenezer Halliday in one of his steel works. He was killed in an accident and there was only a token compensation payment. Your mother later married Halliday and abandoned you to be brought up by your father’s family. You lived in poverty while your mother who later went on to have a child with Halliday, namely Flossie, lived in luxury. You constantly hounded Flossie for money. You were jealous of her upbringing and felt that she owed you.”
“You were on the train that day….were you not Ms. Lyle? And you were dressed as a man to conceal your identity.”
Poirot then turned to Jane Mason.
“You Mason. You already know this, don’t you! You walked in on an argument between Flossie and Jessica. You witnessed Flossie refusing to give money to her sister and out of sheer rage and anger, Jessica grasped Flossie’s pearly necklace and twisted it tight around her sister’s neck. You didn’t attempt to help your mistress in any way, did you Mason? No, you offered Jessica your silence in exchange for Flossie’s jewel case. She only agreed to this if you pawned the jewels and give her half the money – which you did! And I do know Mason that to cover your tracks, you impersonated Flossie at Weston Station by dressing in a similar fashion to her.”
Poirot stood proud that all his facts and suspicions had been confirmed. He glared at mason and said,
“After pawning Flossie’s jewels to a common rogue, you decided to celebrate your ill-gotten gains and spent the night with him drinking gin well into the early hours. In your drunken state, you unwittingly confessed your crimes to your new-found drinking buddy. But in the dim light of the dingy alehouse, you didn’t notice the barman hovering within earshot.”
The blood drained from Masons face. Her worst fears had come true. Her love of gin had let her down!
Jessica Lyle gulped down another full glass of Pinot Grigio and went into a fit of hysteria! Alec Simpson had to restrain her as she climbed across the table to get her hands on that silly little maid.
Lady Swansea wailed some more and screeched obscenities across the table at the two guilty women.
Slutty Marie Mignon began eyeballing the Honourable Rupert Carrington in a suggestive manner – aware now that he was loaded with lovely money and not a killer!
“I cannot, truly I cannot, sit in a chair all day reflecting how truly admirable I am.”
No, of course this is not a quote by Mohotma Coatalay, but it is a quote from the wonderful Hercule Poirot himself!
Well done Mohotma Coatalay! An excellent dinner party and a fantastic night was had by all!