Tuesday, July 11, 2006

“Could the owner of the Mercedes blocking the car park entrance please ask their au pair to move it …”

This weekend we are off to a local golf club for a combined wedding anniversary and birthday party. We’re not sure which anniversary it is, but it’s one of the big ones hence, presumably, the golf club being booked and not simply a marquee being installed on the lawn. The last big anniversary/birthday combination number we did was in a big tent on a lawn, and was ceremonially opened by a gentleman who arrived by microlite. As you do. There were canapés being served by black-jacketed waiters, there was a chocolate fountain being minded* by a man who’d been made redundant from BT, there were champagne cocktails being quaffed by creamy-skinned teenaged girls, the price of whose frocks (we were to learn later) seemed to be in inverse proportion to the amount of material actually used in their construction. There was a DJ, who played a Cliff Richard track and then a Wet Wet Wet one. “We’ve had Cliff, we’ve had The Wets, what’s next?” enquired The Drummer as he nervously added another four-way extension lead to the bulging single available socket near the dance floor. The DJ regarded him in an impassively bovine manner. “Cliff” he answered simply. And so it turned out. There’s a surprising amount of mileage to be had in the old two-CD player/two-Greatest-Hits-albums trick for the enterprising mobile DJ as it turns out. We often find that the folk who throw the sorts of parties where the south terrace has been covered with a sprung dance floor, the atrium garlanded with soft lighting and the pool warmed up especially for the occasion are absolutely charming and attentive, can’t do enough for you and make a point of ensuring that you’re fully fed and watered before you go on stage. It’s mostly just their friends and kids we can’t stand - there’s always one in a kilt, for a start. One is never more aware than at these sorts of gigs that one is definitely an employee, but at least when they’re holding the party at home there’s a fair chance that we’ll actually be allowed in. At one golf club we were positioned outside the back door of the kitchen being fed leftovers from the main table (literally) like some sort of Dickensian orphans until set up time, as we’d had the temerity to turn up at the front door wearing jeans and it turned out the club captain was in. I know – I bet the Ivy Benson Big Band never had this trouble. Conversely, at the microlite do, The Singer and I paused on our way to the immaculately-maintained mobile lavatories (tastefully shielded from casual view by the shrubbery) to enjoy both the spectacle of a fully ball-gowned deb enjoying the Olympic-sized trampoline, and three proudly de-ball-gowned fillies enjoying the Olympic-sized outdoor pool. Our spontaneous round of applause at the latter was greeted by a series of perfectly executed slow-motion aquatic forward rolls in response, which were either a manifestation of their contempt for our behaviour, or a rare and earthy ‘come and get us’ gesture – we weren’t entirely sure, and being married chaps, we hastily made our excuses and stayed a bit longer, just to make sure before wandering off to pack up the gear. In the old days, mind, well….. In the old days, of course, we were full of vim, vigour - spunk if you will, and would never have hung around dry long enough to be mooned at by posh girls with trust funds the size of our mortgages – back then, of course, we didn’t actually have mortgages for a start, but as time has gone on we have either become more tolerant or more benevolently indulgent, or more worried about the mortgages themselves and such behaviour is as water off a swan’s back to us. It is surely a sign of passing time that we still see 50th birthday parties as the preserve of the Crumblies, and carefully set the amp settings on low and vow to start off with a couple of sixties singalongs to get them in the mood, forgetting that we are ourselves, if not actually cruising on the highway to half a century, then at least fiddling with the SatNav in order to find directions to the slip road. Simple maths shows that anyone who is 50 this year was 20 in 1976 and was thus ideally positioned to take full advantage of the opportunity to engage in the punk wars, or at the very least to be in position to be a non-com observer. Thus it was that at the black tie, medals and patent shoes posh frock ball, the first song that got the dancefloor filled and rocking and the throng baying was our version of The Clash’s “London Calling. “We”, we thought to ourselves, “are a two-car garage band”. Talk about turning rebellion into money….

*”mound” ?

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