Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Last night's 18th birthday party went well, and faces that I remember as 5 year-old girls and boys at themed parties (the 'Hawaiian' one was memorable) turned up all these years later looking almost grown-up.
Luckily, none of us real grown-ups remembered the face (or any other part) of the girl who turned up wearing the shortest and tightest hot-pants I have ever seen outside of a magazine, so we didn't feel too guilty - even when being scolded by the lady grown-ups for gawping at her.
A handful of us stayed in the kitchen drinking wine as the kids worked themselves into a frenzy in the living room by downing various types of foul cocktails and singing along to re-mixed versions of old classics. At one point, I actually thought that 'Try A Little Tenderness' had got jammed on the sound system until I realised that one line had been sampled over and over again and set to inhumanly fast, electronic drums. Thank God I didn't go in and try to look for a bit of fluff on the needle.
Occasionally, one or two would come into the kitchen to be introduced by the Birthday Girl, whilst in search of the strongest alcohol available. I had brief - very brief - snatches of conversation with some of these kids, and actually met one who had not heard of 'The Beatles'. She had heard of John Lennon, but only had a vague recollection of the group. Q: 'Where were you when John Lennon was shot?' A: 'In the Ether'.
By about 10.30, all the kids had been slung out and let loose on the town, leaving a smattering of tired old people to have heart-to-hearts in the cold, damp and dark garden, over cigarettes and more wine, vowing to leave the clearing up until the following morning.
The last party I went to involving all these kids was about 3 or 4 years ago, and was held one warm summer evening in a biggish garden with a marquee, in the countryside just outside Frome.
Us grown-ups began to get suspicious at around sundown, when all the children (for that's what they were then) began to get very boisterous indeed - too boisterous for their behaviour to be blamed on sugar consumption.
Of course, many bottles of strong cider had been smuggled in and covertly drunk in dark corners of the shrubbery, and they had also been supplemented by about 4 bottles of neat vodka, one of which was stolen from the parent's own cabinet.
Things came to a head as - one by one - all the kids began vomiting without warning wherever they stood or sat, and I am proud to say that my girl was the only one of them not to throw up at all.
I was sitting on a plastic chair making polite conversation to my friend's six foot two inches tall, 14 year-old daughter (!) who sat beside me, when halfway through a sentence, she threw up over my shoes.
Shortly afterwards, another girl who I chatted to suddenly leapt to her feet and ran across the lawn to throw herself head-first into a bush, where she chucked her guts up theatrically on all fours.
Pretty soon, us tipsy but semi-capable professional drinkers were on the phone, calling up all the parents and telling them to bring wheelbarrows to remove their children from the garden, where they all lay about like casualties in a war-zone.
One set of parents considered getting the police involved the next morning, but I don't think any blame could have been placed on a single adult or juvenile, so the threat was withdrawn.
Drinking like that must be like starting to drive a car or ride a motorcycle - so much more exciting when you are not very good at it.