I am very grateful to Rohan Candappa for granting me permission to publish the following text as a guest piece on Ogblog. Rohan circulated the piece originally to a few friends. I think it deserves a wider airing.
It triggered a whole swathe of memories for me, which led to a few “party pieces” of my own – see my introductory/warm up published yesterday – here.
It also triggered a swathe of bants from others on that original circulation. I’ll take soundings on whether those should see the wider circulation light of day or not. Of course, if people want to add their bants to the comments section of this piece here on Ogblog, then bant away.
Something has definitely come full circle.
That’s because today is the morning after the night before. And the night before is when my son – 17 two weeks ago – had a party at home. A party with girls. And alcohol. And a herd of previously hand-reared teenagers released into the wild of almost adulthood to fend for themselves.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget the instruction ‘You’re not staying‘ directed to me and Jan. At which point I came back with the perfectly reasonable point of ‘Actually, it’s my house, I paid for it, so I can stay if I want.’
So obviously we went out.
Out to the pictures to see ‘Moonlight’ – very good. Then on to a groovy pizza restaurant, to eat a groovy (probably artisan) pizza – also very good. The only problem was that by 9.30 we’d seen the film and eaten the pizza. And both were five minutes walk from our house. So we took a circuitous route home and got back at ten.
Walk up to the house – no police cars, no mass of kids trying to get in, no flames coming through the roof – Result!
Open the front door and, for some reason, the music blaring out is ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ by The Beat. And that’s when it strikes me. That ‘full circle’ moment. This is exactly what I was listening to 40 years ago when I had a party at home when I was 17.
All of which got thinking.
So here are some of the things I can still dredge up from my age-addled brain of those parties of 40 years ago, Please feel free to wallow in nostalgia, add your own memories, or disown me as a sad old geezer who endlessly bangs on about how everything was so much better back in their day…
I remember being the hall of my house, at my party, when someone comes up and says I need to go into the kitchen, and going in to find that all the food was on the floor because Mick Carol had sat on the edge of an antique circular dining table, snapped the central support, and the table at completely tipped over.
I remember being at a party at Nige’s house when the patio door got accidentally pushed out, and Nige’s dad, instead of going mad, was worried about us all getting cold.
I remember that over time, going to parties I graduated from bringing bottles of Merrydown cider, to bringing half bottles of Souther Comfort. Why I brought Southern Comfort I have no idea as it tasted like cough medicine.
I remember Steve’s pair of Rupert The Bear checked trousers.
I remember taking singles to parties with my initials written on the labels so that you could take them home again at the end of the evening.
I remember that going to parties at other people’s houses was one of the few chances you had to see how other people lived. And sometimes that meant you got glimpses of other worlds. Worlds you could aspire to. Lives you could want to live.
I remember the expectation, the excitement, the hopes, the fears, the bravado, the posturing and posing and awkwardness of it all.
I remember a joint 18th birthday party with Steve at The Shirley Poppy.
I remember Nick and Tim’s disco.
I remember the word disco.
I remember dancing.
I remember rooms starting to spin, and lights starting to blur, and the sobering cold shock of the air as you stumbled out into the night and tried to figure out how you were going to get home.
And I remember walking home with John one night when it had snowed heavily and having a deep, meaningful conversation of which even the slightest detail escapes me.
So last night, there I am walking back into my son’s party and The Beat are playing.
Like I said, full circle.
And as my son gets older, I wish him many things.
Like friends as good as the ones I grew up with all those years ago and am lucky enough to still have in my life.