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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Murder in the Orient

It was Jarlaths 39th birthday on the 29th September but as he was still in Seattle that day, I had decided to arrange something to celebrate the weekend following his birthday. I had been given a Murder mystery dinner party game a couple of years ago by my sister – I think it was for a Christmas present – so I thought that would be a fun thing to do to get some friends together for his birthday. The planning started about 2 months ago when I had to decide on a guest list. You could have either 6 or 8 guests but needed a minimum of 6 to fill all the roles critical to the murder story. I started early so that people could put it in their diaries early so they would definitely be able to come as I needed a definite commitment to make the whole thing work. It was just as well I did as there were several changes to the guest list as various people couldn’t make it and I had one possible to work in – although he ended up not being able to make it.
We ended up with 6 people including ourselves to fulfil all the necessary roles.
The scenario was this:
It’s 1937 and Shanghai is one of the great international cities of the world. The rich of all nations gather here for business and pleasure, and for those who can afford it, there’s nowhere on earth more glamorous, more decadent or more insecure. The Japanese are casting acquisitive eyes at the city, society is polarized between extremes of wealth and poverty, and corruption is rife.
An ill-assorted group of people have been invited to dinner at the home of one of the leading businessmen in the city, Fu Manchuria. Unfortunately, your host won’t be attending dinner this evening. Or any other evening. He’s been murdered in his own dressing-room, tied to a chair and stabbed through the heart with a chopstick.
One of you is a murderer. Your task is to identify that person. Or, of course, to evade detection. Luckily, you have the benefit of Marlowe McClue, the celebrated private dick, to assist you in your investigations.
The suspects:
WAN TON WILLY – Andrew Yang was in this role
A local businessman, a close associate of the murdered man. Like him, you are suspected by many people of being involved in the notorious Shanghai criminal underworld.
An American Missionary, with more than a hint of aggression in your missionary zeal. You’re a passionate campaigner against organized crime.
An Indian born wife of Rev Spooner and you work with him in the Mission as a school teacher. No one would guess this from your glamorous image.
The Chinese housekeeper to the murdered man and – some people believe – you were also his mistress. You remain a mystery to everyone.
SU SUKI – Kim Yang
A Japanese actress, one of the greatest stars of the Oriental stage. You have a reputation for being a self-absorbed prima donna.
PEKING TOM – Simon Martin
An Australian adventurer with a taste for any business deal, regardless of how shady the circumstances.

The night was a combination of scripted dialogue, some talk from the cd and giving each character secrets and questions to ask each other. It was quite fun and everyone tried to get into character. Simon was hilarious with his fake Aussie accent and Jarlath kept getting the words of the script wrong and was quite fiery as the Missionary. Everyone really made the effort with their costumes as the pictures show:
It was fun but I felt there could have been more scripting and more talking from the cd. We were left on our owns to make it up quite a bit and, while none of us is shy, we were not quite sure what to do at times. Anyway we still had fun and the murderer turned out to be Rev. Al Spooner.
The menu for the night was:
Canap├ęs with Caviar and sour cream on blinis served with Belini cocktails.
Homemade sushi – I made some rolls and some Nigiri
Hot and Sour soup – I cheated on this and bought a packet mix. Served with Chinese dumplings and rice crackers.
Tempura – I got to use my fondue set for the second ever time to make this. We had prawns, jalapeno peppers and mushrooms and had great fun dipping in the tempura batter and waiting for them to cook.
Sweet Jasmine Rice – from Nigella Lawson book but hardly any got eaten as I think everyone was full up.
Cheese board – served up with some port we brought over from the UK as we had received it as a present and it was a good bottle. Shame I don’t like port as it always looks lovely with a cheese board.
Birthday cake – I ended up just buying a chocolate sponge cake as I was too busy on Friday to make my own – felt a bit of a cheat but what the hey!
I decide on this menu as it would allow me to be fully involved in the murder mystery without slaving over a hot stove on the night as I could prep it all before anyone arrived. It all went down well (apart from the sweet rice) and everyone was nicely full without feeling stuffed.

After the murderer had been announced and food was finished we were all still in a games mood so decided to play some good old fashioned charades. Vicky had never played Charades before so we had to teach her all the signals and I, sadly, knew them all after years of watching Lionel Blair and Una Stubbs (showing my age there)!! I was the only one that was acting out a movie that didn’t get it guessed. It was 500 days of summer and was given to me by Vicky to act out. My acting was, obviously, faultless so it must have been the guessers that were being numpties!
Bobby decided to join in the fun by bringing a live mouse up to us as a gift. We didn’t manage to catch it and thought it had gone down into the basement so would be able to get out from there. This was not the case as it made a reappearance at 1.30 in the morning while Simon, Jarlath and I were watching a movie. It was hilarious to watch them running around the living room trying to catch the wee mouse. I, off course, was just standing taking photos and the mouse was never caught.

All in all it was a very enjoyable night and thought I would share it with you guys. Xx

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