16 FEBRUARY 1991, Page 40

New life

Of dogs and babies

Zenga Longmore

ray excuse me if I sound somewhat like 'Jennifer's Diary' this week, but an occa- sion such as Charles Moore's housewarm- ing party simply cannot go unmentioned. It is probably the one and only such event that I shall attend this year, and I even had the crowning glory uncomfortably marcel- waved for the evening, using a rusty marcel-waver, which was, no doubt, once the proud possession of Josephine Baker.

Leaving Omalara in Olumba's capable hands, my actress friend Stella and I made it to the warmed house, a glorious Geor- gian edifice, seemingly about eight storeys high. The first sight to catch my eye was a beautiful baby girl, who sat on the stairs throwing the guests a joyful smile of welcome. I was told she was one of the Moore twins, and I was most pleased to meet her. Nothing civilises a party as much as a baby, and most babies will admit that they enjoy nothing better than the specta- cle of grown-ups getting drunk and falling over. What is Andy Pandy compared to the middle-aged man who stands on the table at the end of the party, and performs a risque version of 'Bring Back My Bonny To Me'?

A host of glittering literary stars attended the do, included knights, lords, ladies and Enoch Powell, who, I was interested to note, gave me a very broad smile. For a few moments I managed to collar Heath, the cartoonist, and was de- lighted to be able to tell him that his Independent cartoons portraying American attitudes to the Gulf war were the most profound war statements I had seen so far. How wonderful if this war were to be fought along the lines of the David and Goliath conflict. Bush and Saddam could fight it out man to man, armed with nought but slings, and the end result would entail nothing more disastrous than a lump on the head of one of the fighters.

But back to the party. It was immensely enjoyable to meet the people whom hither- to I have only seen in print, although it must be admitted that I felt rather naked without Omalara. Every so often, I found myself looking round to see what she was up to, forgetting that she was up to something miles away from my stern gaze. When the time came to drag Stella away from the gin, I bade a fond farewell to Charles and Caroline Moore. `Why,' asked Charles Moore, when he had finished complimenting Roy Kerridge on his choice of tie, `did you not bring Omalara?' I explained, as delicately as possible, that I never knew you could bring a baby to an English party. If a Nigerian invites you to a shindig, you unthinkingly take the kids, the mother and the granny along, but English party guests are notoriously appal- led by the sight of a child. It is to be hoped that this trend is on the wane.

When I reached home, I found Olurnba and Omalara twitching their hips to high- life music, presided over by Uncle Bisi, who sat in my favourite chair. Scanning the West African Concord with a ponderous eye. Just as I was about to join in the festivities, there came a muffled sound from without, the sort of sound the hippies from next door make when they lurch drunkenly against your front door. `What is that?' thundered Uncle Bisi, springing up as lithely as his 16-stone frame could manage. A stunned silence ensued. Then a muffled whisper, `Hey man! It's that tough old guy. Make like we're stray dogs.' Speak!' roared Uncle Bisi, `I know you're there.'

`We're two yorkshire terriers.' `Yorkshire terrorists! This is alarming! What can they want?"No, man, terriers — dogs'. 'On the run from Battersea dogs' home,' added a second, inspired voice from behind the door.

`Shoo! Shoo!' cried Uncle Bisi, and the hippies willingly obliged. `But Uncle Bisi!' I said, when the hippies had safely entered their flat, `you know they can't be dogs.' `Of course, but, ah, I was reminded of the Leopard Men of Sierra Leone who perform, ah, diabolical acts of mischief. I feared that these maurauders were mem- bers of the English counterpart of that cult — the dog men, who dress up as dogs and run around on all fours biting members of the population. That could be very, ah, dangerous.

I was forced to agree.