Aunty Elsie and Aunty Bess are giving me lessons on how to do The Twist. We twist down; we twist up again. Well, shake it up Baby now. There’s standing room only– no, twisting room only – in Aunty Vi’s lounge because The Family – Pa’s family, that is – certainly know how to throw a party.
I am seven, pint sized, and looking the bee’s knees in a new orange shift dress with a white panel and zip at the front. Aunts, uncles, cousins tower above me; adept party goers who can drink, sing, dance and smoke all at the same time. Come on baby, do the Loco-motion.
And the food! The tables are groaning with puddings galore. Black Forest Gateaux. Coffee cakes. There will have been savoury stuff too, but it’s the puddings I remember. Piled up to give, in the words of Aunty Bess, a bit of height. Hi –ho, silver lining.
Special occasions – twenty-firsts and the like – need a hall. More space for dancing; more space for food. ActorLaddie remembers his introduction to The Family – Aunt Martha and Uncle Pat’s Golden Wedding – at which it was announced that “the sausage rolls aren’t quite cooked so we’re going to toast Aunt Martha”. Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good.
And so this is Christmas; squashed into Aunt Martha’s through room. Uncle Tom on the spoons, Big Billy crooning, Joyce’s sweet soprano. A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sing-a-longs written out on rolls of wallpaper. Let’s hope it’s a good one; with plenty of beer.
Perhaps it’s coming from a family of brilliant party-givers that has left me now the world’s most anxious party-thrower. I am, frankly, complete rubbish at entertaining. Any party has to be perfect; everyone must enjoy themselves all of the time and if they don’t then it’s my responsibility, my fault. So the run-up to impending celebrations is filled with dread about leaving undone things which should have been done. Afterwards, the relief is tempered with knowing that if I’d relaxed, I might have had fun.
Tonight, there’s a small party for YoungLochivar’s 30th. I’m counting the minutes till tomorrow. It’s up to you, New York, New York.