It is the 8th of October 1980, and it’s Lisa Grant’s twenty-first birthday. She has recently been reunited with her father, Fergus, who lays on a party for her at her favourite restaurant in Soho, Fanny’s Bistro. The tables are hastily rearranged to accommodate one uninvited guest, Lisa’s mother, Elizabeth. Towards the end of the evening, Fergus says a few heartfelt words before Elizabeth successfully wrecks the evening.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, please could I have your attention? The sooner I have it, the sooner I will be able to say what I need to and you can all carry on and party. Firstly, I need to thank Fanny and her fabulous team for allowing us to take over her fine restaurant tonight. And thank you all for coming here tonight to celebrate Lisa’s twenty-first birthday.
‘Being twenty-one is a milestone in a young life. Mine seems like a very long time ago, but I remember it very well. I was up all night and finally went to bed at around 7.00a.m. No, I hadn’t been painting the town red, I was looking after my beautiful baby daughter, who had a very nasty bout of colic.
‘I am so very proud of Lisa. She has been through a great deal in her young life. As some of you will know, Lisa’s mother and I divorced when Lisa was six. It was a painful time for us all but particularly for Lisa, who was too young to understand what was going on.
‘So many people have helped mould Lisa into the fine young woman she is today. Eileen Fisher, Jim and Nellie Liddington, the Wilde Family, who I’m delighted to say are all with us tonight. You have all been such a tremendous influence in Lisa’s life, nurturing her from a beautiful, caring child into a beautiful, caring adult.’
Thomas shouted, hear, hear, and Fergus paused as Nellie blew her nose. An irritated Elizabeth mumbled something to Jeremy.
‘Fergus…what about Elizabeth? You haven’t mentioned Elizabeth. She has been a tremendous influence!’
‘Ah, yes and Elizabeth, of course.’ He extended an arm towards his ex-wife. ‘ For those of you who don’t know, this is Elizabeth, Lisa’s fond mama.’ Elizabeth managed a royal wave.
‘Elizabeth has been such a tremendous influence on Lisa’s life in terms of trying to mould and shape her path in life.’
The comment was met with jeers from Lisa’s table, which went over Elizabeth’s head as she was enjoying her moment in the limelight.
‘But… those of you who know Lisa well will know that she has a mind of her own… and has carved her own path in life!’
‘Oh, for goodness sake,’ growled Elizabeth.
‘And we mustn’t forget Lisa’s step-father, Arthur Goldsworthy. Unfortunately, Arthur finds the London commute too difficult these days, so is sadly not with us tonight. But Arthur is someone for whom Lisa has an enormous amount of love and respect. He deserves much credit for moulding my daughter into the intuitive young woman she is today. Arthur was always there to help and encourage Lisa during her academic years. He nurtured her love for the arts, her passion for writing and fully supported her ambition to pursue a career in journalism. On a personal note, I am indebted to him for doing the job I would have relished, had the circumstances have been different.
‘I have very much enjoyed being with you all this evening. My daughter has some wonderful friends. The night is still young and, as you will have already noticed, the disco has been set up in the corner there. So, I’m expecting everybody under the age of thirty to dance until the wee small hours. After us, older folk, have gone home to find our dressing gowns and slippers.’ He flashed Elizabeth a wry smile as waiters started rushing around filling champagne glasses with pink fizz. The waiter who had removed Elizabeth’s mink took his time filling up her glass while gazing into her eyes. She responded with a flirtatious bout of eyelash fluttering, much to Jeremy’s irritation.
‘I think you will all agree that my daughter looks stunning tonight.’ There was spattered applause and a few whoops. ‘I can’t believe that you are twenty-one, my darling. Where has the time gone? They say there is no fool like an old fool, don’t panic, I’m just about to wind things up…’
‘Thank God for that!’ hissed Elizabeth.
‘I just wanted to say how proud of you I am, Lisa. You are my constant ray of sunshine. You are kind, loving, and one of the most tenacious people I have ever met. A chip off the old block really! So, ladies and gentlemen, in honour of my beautiful daughter’s twenty-first birthday, Thomas and I decided to launch our new baby… Monte das Uvas Champanhe Lisa… our vineyard’s first-ever champagne. Now, let us all raise our glasses to Lisa! Happy birthday, darling!’