Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Art of Party and the Shoggoth in the Punch

My previous post about the Birthday Trophy Shelf reminded me about a couple of parties I’ve been involved in. Which has engaged the rock ‘n’ roll time machine. We’re going back… Way back…

Early eighties. The local rocker community still considered Metallica’s Kill ’em All to be the precursor of a new heavy metal genre. Hell, I still liked them. 🙂 Anyway, I had a birthday approaching and it fell on (or near – memory is unclear) a Saturday. As we had all come together at a local venue call ‘The Balmoral’ and adopted it as our rockin’ home – even after it moved – it seemed only natural to invite my shaggy, fiercely independent and deeply clique’d extended family back for a shindig.

There was a ‘problem’. My mum. Deeply religious and as fierce in her belief that I was ‘going through a phase’ as I was in my belief that rock ‘n’ roll was my home. So, careful negotiations ensued. Lies were told. Permission was granted after a month-long parental objection erosion campaign.

On the afternoon of the day, breakables were cleared away and the downstairs was ‘streamlined’. My ridiculous hi-fi was moved into the dining room with due reverence for the sacred wiring. (The dining room being the furthest point in the house from mumsie’s bedroom.) Something like having ground zero next door instead of on your own lawn, in effect. The lounge would be the ‘crash room’. The kitchen was, of course, the hub of the weirdness.

And on that note, we approach the heart of this tale: the punch. Using a twenty-litre wine-making drum, we started to pour litres of fruit juice with glee into a Smirnoff (several litres) and sugar base. This was enhanced by using up all the spirits in the wine cabinet that mum was happy to get rid of. As early evening approached, we geared up and departed for the pub.

Upon the kitchen table, the lidded drum of punch stood. Using a camera view from horror films, our vision slips inside. In the fruit-scented darkness, a dim light helps us see: the liquid, nascent party fuel, stands quiet. Then a little bubble rises to the surface. It is followed by another. More follow. A happenstance of frankensteinian fermentation. It lives. 😀

Several hours later, a motley crew staggers the two-mile journey back. It had been a long walk. The punch, served in half-pint glasses, was welcome. Everybody quaffed except the few non-drinkers (me and err… no-one else). Music started. A convivial evening of mild rock ‘n’ roll excess was expected.

The punch had other ideas. It had waited, quietly fermenting, for between four and six hours. It would have its victims.

My party took off. I was sober. I watched perfectly ‘normal’ (yes, sceptisism is valid) rockers lose their inhibitions, to a greater, lesser or weirder extent. Everyone was what, to this day, I take to be the quintessential definition of ‘blotto’ – that fine English term for happily, harmlessly, utterly drunk. The night became an exercise in damage limitation. Not that I considered it that. I was just preventing people getting too out of hand. Thankfully, there were no pugnacious types. But things happened outside my purview and the night, while being rather a lot of fun, became a series of discoveries:

A friend of my ex, and her fella, retiring to an empty room for some together time. My bedroom. My bed. GERROFF!

The lounge door stuck. People couldn’t get in. The hall became a packed traffic jam for a while, until I forged across the melee and tried the door. It swung open to my mates happy grin. He’d just discovered that the lass he fancied was taken with him too. Party be damned, immediate carnal discovery on and over the three-piece suite had to be done.

Someone was violently ill in the downstairs toilet. Unfortunately, they didn’t lift the lid beforehand. (It was twelve years before the culprit finally confessed.)

My ex and her best girl getting very friendly on the stairs.That was the moment I learned to divorce my emotions from my actions, because an awful lot of me (and half a dozen other voyeurs of both sexes) wanted to let that bout continue.

Someone fed the dog what I suspect to be chips and curry sauce… Poor Dusty. The next day his arse was the world’s first poop airbrush. (I still don’t know who did that.)

And so on. Random groping, surreptitious fucking, a lot of falling over, headbanging, a stack of heavy metal kids shootin’ the shit and puttin’ their narrow world to rights; character assassination, bonking in the bath (your secret is still safe with me) and mother complaining – until being so scandalised upon her second foray that she retired to her bedroom and did not emerge until daybreak.

Come dawn, I stood amidst a scene of devastation. About thirty bodies carpeted the downstairs floors. Not even snores were to be heard. The Party Shoggoth had laid them all out, rearranged the joint, and shlarfed off to find a place to rest and digest.

Mum descended the stairs, and in that silence of unwitnessed mortification, she looked at me and quietly said: “We are not doing this again.”

Then she looked about, and with that wonderful sang froid that only mothers can bring to bear, she said: “I’ll put the kettle on.”

And so, the survivors were roused with a NATO standard coffee (white with two sugars) apiece. Everybody got one, regardless of preferences. Most tellingly, they all happily drank it.

Except Paul. He woke, smiled, said: “Good party”, then rolled over, pulled out the unopened bottle of Bacardi he’d hidden behind the dresser, popped the cap and took a breakfast-sized slug.

He was still hitting the bottle happily as he departed into the clear morning, wandering off up the road singing an obscure rock ballad to himself, around puffs of his cigarette.

In his wake, but in other directions, the rest of my guests departed. Bleary-eyed, dishevelled, grinning into the morning sun. We rocked.

I may achieve little more in this life. But I have thrown one proper rock ‘n’ roll party.



The Birthday Trophy Shelf

Most of us collect something. Mementos of some kind that either have emotional value, make us smile, grant us the respect (or envy) of others, or fulfill an undefined need – or any combination of those. I have suffered from it and over the last few years have been forced to relinquish many collections. It is something that is both painful and uplifting. An addiction to material things is never a sign of a soul at peace.

My point? Read on.

Imagine that every year, you get a trophy on your birthday. They should be up there – on that dusty shelf in the corner of your mind.

Of course, like any collection, there are criteria. In this case, let’s keep it simple: you can only put a trophy on the shelf if you can remember something specific about the birthday it is for.

So, I’ll go first… Oh.

  • Twenty-first – A rather out-of-hand party to celebrate it.
  • Thirty-ninth – A friend bought me an insane present during a night out.
  • Forty-eighth – A home-made lemon drizzle cake arrived without warning.
  • Fiftieth – I got my first tattoos.
  • Fifty-first – I received a card from someone who I never expected to hear from.
  • Fifty-second – My brother got me an unexpected present.

Trophies without number:

  • A party at my house that ended with me and my mum serving coffee at 7AM to thirty wrecked rockers. Bloody marvellous – and scandalised mum’s church community as a bonus. 😀
  • My first party at a place called The Hungry Years. A heavy metal rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza.
  • My second party (and last) at The Hungry Years (stupidly trying to recreate the atmosphere of the first). A bit of a faux pas.

Nine trophies. Forty-three spaces.

How did you do?

If you’re going to collect things, don’t forget the things of real value that we miss so easily: memories.

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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Life & Self

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