Sunday, 19 July 2009

Party Animal

I am so OLD. Well obviously I am, I had my birthday last week. Thank you for all the best wishes received and for the occasional expression of surprise that I've made it this far. My family combined, in case you are wondering, to give me an Ipod Touch, 32 gigabytes of pure gadgety loveliness. But it is not my physical age that concerns me, but rather my level of mental decrepitude.

Last night we went to a party. A school friend of Polly, “I haven't got a thing to wear”, was celebrating her 40th birthday, and had hired the events room at a rugby club in deepest Surrey. We didn't set off until nearly 8 o'clock, and Sam kept whispering to me, conspiratorially, that it was past his bedtime and that he hoped mummy wouldn't notice. Both boys were thrilled to find, upon our arrival, that there was an abundance of children to play with, and all thoughts of bedtime vanished like the drinks at the free bar.

What struck me first was the sheer volume of the music. The function room was dotted with large round tables, down one wall was a finger buffet and in a corner was the bar. In the opposite corner, before which was an area cleared for dancing, was a DJ with an array of decks, speakers and flashing lights. The only thing missing was a volume control.

This is where I come across as all fuddy-duddy. The room was full of people sat, or standing, in groups, huddled together, shouting into each others ears. Any conversation conducted more than six inches from ear to mouth involved advanced mime and sign language gesticulation. After a few minutes bellowing at Elaine, our hostess, and with Polly, I found myself sitting, nursing half a pint of cider, in a kind of audio-isolation.

I amused myself by watching the series of photographs being presented one after another on a TV monitor affixed to one wall. Countless pictures of Elaine's childhood and family cycled by, intermittently punctuated by photographs of her with friends. Every now and then a shriek went up as someone recognized themselves (during a brief hiatus in the cacophonous music, obviously). I spotted Polly a few times, a distinctly unpromising pre-pubescent teen in horizontal stripes, and wondered at the processes that had transformed her into the vibrant, beautiful woman, dancing with our boys to Wham and a medley of Abba songs.

Judging by the pictures, one of the defining elements of growing up in the eighties was hair. Big hair. The array of perms, bouffant and otherwise, was dazzling. There was a particularly unflattering photo of Polly with an angled fringe. She punched me on the arm when I asked if it was from her Hitler period.

At one stage in the evening, when Polly had taken the boys to the loo, someone came to talk to me. I think his name was Colin but he was competing with 'Billie-Jean' at the time. (Apparently the kid is not his son.) I think Colin was asking me how I knew Elaine but he might equally have been asking for my opinion of global warming.

I realised, as a bleary-eyed Sam came and curled up on my lap, that I am not naturally a party animal. My cider had lasted all night and as much as I enjoy 80's popular music my ears were starting to bleed. Let's face it, I realised as I stroked my son's hair, I'm a grumpy old git.

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