the spectre at the feast

the spectre at the feast

Someone or something that acts as a reminder of something negative and thus ruins the enjoyment of something. Primarily heard in UK. I think I'll stay home. I'm afraid that since everyone knows about my recent diagnosis, I will be the spectre at the feast.
See also: feast, spectre
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the spectre at the feast

or

the ghost at the feast

BRITISH
If someone or something is the spectre at the feast or the ghost at the feast, they make people feel uncomfortable because they remind them of an unhappy event or situation. At the funeral, Lindsay had stood apart, the ultimate spectre at the feast. That question was the ghost at the feast and cast a shadow over the celebrations. Note: According to the Greek writer Plutarch, the Ancient Egyptians used to place a skeleton at the table during a feast, to remind them that they would die one day.
See also: feast, spectre
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
To everyone's disappointment, looming over this scene, like the Spectre at the Feast, is the muchdiminished figure of that once great democratic hope of the Burmese nation, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Feedbacks are the spectre at the feast. You can get everything else right, your emissions are going down nicely, and you are on course to stop the warming just before the average global temperature reaches two degrees C higher -- and then suddenly, the whole global system goes into overdrive.
Simmons delivers his lines perfectly and then moulds himself into the background while managing not to look like the spectre at the feast.
I HATE to be the spectre at the feast but does it strike anyone else that the business acumen of the new Blues board leaves something to be desired given that they have paid pounds 30 million over the realistic market price for the club.
Amidst the rush of fulsome eulogies following the sad death of Bobby Robson, one feels a little like the spectre at the feast.
But the spectre at the feast was an un-reached agreement--the long-cherished (by the EU at least) trans-Atlantic open aviation area.
But the Spectre at the Feast, the Nightmare on Downing Street, still sends a chill through the corridors of power.
Until then I had felt like the spectre at the feast. Around me people had been going wild and on stage the cast had been giving it all they had.
At this week's Dunhill Links championship he could qualify as the spectre at the feast.
But now, to put it poetically , the spectre at the feast has said 'boo.com' and meanwhile the Phoenix has risen from the ashes!
On the other hand, California is the spectre at the feast. Some years ago, they had a rash of subsidised wind farms despoiling the beautiful coastline south of San Francisco followed by the worst energy crisis in the history of the USA.