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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Parties over 40 years

It is Christmas party season which got me thinking about how my experiences of parties has changed over the years.

When I was little, parties were done at home. I am not even sure that soft play centres existed then. So birthdays were held in the home with balloons and jelly and ice-cream. The cake was home-made and the same party hats came out every year with me always choosing the skull and crossbones. Wider family members would turn up often from far away places like London. I would invite friends from school, always girls. We would have a lovely tea and I have photographs which show that Mum used her best china for these events. Brave woman! We would play traditional party games and I always won the Pin the Tail on the Donkey one until the year when my friend Samantha refused to wear the blindfold cos she had a sore eye. I don't expect these parties cost anything like the soft play ones we do these days but I don't expect we had any less fun either.

As a teenager, parties did not really exist in my circle. If we wanted to party, we would do a pub crawl around all the usual suspects ending up at the Frontier. That is where I was on my 18th, listening to The Final Countdown and watching the light show. It was always fine until you got home and your parents told you they used to go to the same place when it was Batley Variety Club and how they had seen Shirley Bassey there. I consumed lots of booze and could not always recall where I had visited on these nights.

Parties at university were great in that to an extent everybody was invited. I went to a very friendly college and my pigeonhole was always stuffed with invitations. They tended to come on card and sometimes had gold round the edges and beautiful calligraphy. A big change from Dewsbury or the Dewsbury I knew anyway. I used to line the invitations up on the mantlepiece to prove how popular I was. Sad I know and probably not true. As I say, there was a protocol of inviting everyone. For my 21st, we had drinks in one nice room and then moved on from intelligent conversation and chinking of glasses to a sweaty bop in the cellar rooms. You were not allowed to party publicly after midnight so a more intimate party for the select few took place in my room into the early hours. I remember my friend Hayley throwing up, obviously not used to the alcoholic excess of college life. I remember my lovely silk dress in midnight blue encrusted with jewels. A Monsoon number - very useful to have a brother who worked for Monsoon.

Parties after college often consisted of desperate attempts to keep in touch with college friends. That worked for a few years until spouses and children started to happen. I used to go regularly to London or Manchester sleeping wherever there was space to do so. Although I lacked confidence, college friends parties were OK as I felt safe and welcomed.

I had an engagement party in my twenties. There was a weird mix of people from school, college, work and neighbourhood. Different ages, different backgrounds. I should have realised things would not last long between me and my intended as I don't remember seeing him much at the party at all. Can't have been as loved up as I thought he was. Or not with me anyway lol!

I had a small party with my next fella one Christmas and remember that being good fun with card playing and so on.

The next party was my son's Christening Do. Again, there was a varied mix of ages and backgrounds. In fact, we felt like we had one representative from every community of interest. Not sure what that says about us but think it is probably positive. We had a Catholic Church christening and held the party in our fave Chinese restaurant.

That was almost ten years ago and there have not been any parties since really. Not big ones anyway. The odd gathering with family members but nothing major.

Him Indoors announced he will be going to his work's do in Christmas week. He could not understand why this pissed me off. Us stay at home mums work bloody hard and where is our Christmas party?

Ah well, there are memories and I have enjoyed sharing them.

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