Tuesday, 4 March 2014



Vol 38 Party                                            


My first big school  invitation to a grown up –  pass the parcel and musical chairs now a mere memory – birthday party had arrived and unfortunately the two most important words in this sentence had failed to make an impression on my, as yet, very ungrownup brain.  Hence I found myself on the newly twelve year old Nadine’s glamorous dormer bungalow doorstep clutching card and neatly wrapped Twinkle annual.  Very soon I would discover to my shame that most of my peers had long since ditched Twinkle, moved through Beano and Dandy and were well into Jackie and her ‘what kind of kisser are you?’ articles.

“Er, come in then,” said the fragrant birthday girl eying me up and down frowning ungraciously, “you’re half an hour early.”  Really?  Still?  As all eleven year olds are, acutely aware of the slow passing of time, I’d been waiting round the corner for the last ten minutes, “wait in the kitchen while I get ready.”

Nadine’s kitchen was an education of never-before-encountered exoticness in which, to pass the cruelly malingering time, I amused myself with a quick sniff of a bottle of chicory coffee, exploratory squeeze then frustrated bash of a plastic red tomato (speedy rub with a Spanish dancer tea towel to rid the formica table of its sticky sea of ketchup) then a startling lick of celery salt before my fellow party mates jostled in to join me.  At last, crossed my mind before,

 “Look at Wendy!”


“What are you wearing.”

Two things struck me.  Though it was mid-winter and a bloody freezing first term at senior school, I’d selected the only party-like outfit, albeit a size or so too small, I owned.  Namely one baby blue frilly chiffon number with see through puffed sleeves, matching frilled socks and hairband.  If memory serves me right, otherwise only being able to locate school shoes, I’d opted in the name of speed, for pumps.  Anathema to my peers resplendent in de la mode brown midi’s, Ben Sherman shirts and wedges.  Strike me down now.

After they had had their fill of fun and guffaws and I had resolved, immediately on arriving home, to stuff the damn frock in the nearest bin, we availed ourselves of Nadine’s mum’s fabulous ham salad and celery salt sandwiches, beef spread butties apparently being beneath the birthday girl.  Delish, as they say, they were and while the cackling quintet made their way off for a bit of truth or dare, I made my excuses and left to locate the loo, chimes of Abba ringing behind.

Thirty-two minutes later, I emerged, perspiring mildly, to an audience and urgent cries of,

“Hurry up!” 

“I’m bursting.”

“Me first!”

with the intention of slinking noiselessly back to the confines of the kitchen but having hardly taken four steps toward it when furious shrieks screamed from the avocado bathroom;