The organization where Letty and Marcia worked regarded it as a duty to provide some kind of a retirement party for them, when the time came for them to give up working. Their status as ageing unskilled women did not entitle them to an evening party, but it was felt that a lunchtime gathering, leading only to more than usual drowsiness in the afternoon, would be entirely appropriate. The other advantage of a lunchtime party was that only medium Cyprus sherry need be provided, whereas the evening called for more exotic and expensive drinks, wines and even the occasional carefully concealed bottle of whisky or gin – 'the hard stuff', as Norman called it, in his bitterness at being denied access to it. Also at lunchtime sandwiches could be eaten, so that there was no need to have lunch and it was felt by some that at a time like this it was 'better' to be eating – it gave one something to do.
Quartet in Autumn (1977)
I wrote a little about why I liked this book a lot here.