I've been to two hen nights in my life. The first was about 20 years ago, in Hertfordshire, for Debbie, the neighbour of my good friend Jill. I knew Debbie slightly from my regular weekend visits to Jill; her hen night was set at fairly short notice for a weekend when I was due to visit again; Jill asked Debbie if I could go along, and Debbie said 'yes'. Jill wanted me there for moral support, because she didn't know any of Debbie's friends and didn't know what to expect.
We started in the pub. Debbie was festooned, by her friends, with all sorts of additions to her outfit, from chains at her wrists (apparently for her husband to chain her to the kitchen sink) to tampon earrings (I never understood the reason for those). Then the strippergram arrived, a young man liberally coated in baby oil who did an act that had Jill and I cringing and wishing we could run away. Debbie and her friends thought it was great. After a lot of drinks for them - Debbie was downing Southern-Comfort-and-lemonades by the dozen - and a couple for us, we went on to an Indian restaurant with a sigh of relief. But we sighed too soon, as Debbie and her friends delighted in making bawdy jokes about and to, and even pinching the bums of, the gentle, polite, well-mannered Indian waiters. Jill and I escaped as soon as we decently could. It was one of the most cringeworthy evenings of my life.
The second, six years ago, could hardly have been more different. It was in Edinburgh and involved an afternoon at the spa of the Balmoral Hotel, followed by dinner at one of the fish restaurants in Leith. As several of the guests had flown in from other continents, it was held just two days before the wedding. The bride-to-be, an international academic, was delighted to have all the important women in her life in the same place, and took pains to ensure everyone had the chance to speak to everyone else: 'And then you'll know each other on Saturday,' she said. I enjoyed it enormously.
Next month I'm going to my third hen night. This one will be different again. For a start, I know all five of the other women who will be there, three of whom are good friends of mine. We're kicking off with a matinee of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, and then going for an earlyish dinner at a bistro.
So far, so civilized. But I have a mischievous streak. In this case, I also know the husband-to-be, and yesterday I enlisted his help in devising a set of ten questions for his fiancee, to test her knowledge of him in a teasing, tormenting kind of way; like a personalised version of the 'Mr and Mrs' game. It seems to me that she should pay a forfeit for every one she gets wrong. Now I don't actually want to go the whole cringe hog, and make her, say, ask a stranger for a kiss, or down a strong drink in one go. So my current idea is to get some big bright badges made with a range of appropriately embarrassing statements, such as 'I Am Bad, And Not In A Good Way' or 'My Husband-To-Be Is Smarter Than Me', and make her wear one for every wrong answer. But those are really lame ideas, and my creativity well is running dry, and I need ten good ones (in case she gets every single question wrong - unlikely, I know, but I want to cover all the bases). So: any thoughts?