Thursday, 7 June 2007

I'm Sixty

One minor hitch over the lack of champagne glasses at the club, discovered only hours before the party, resulted in a frantic dash to the nearest supermarket for plastic cups for the toast. Everything else went like a dream.

I was in a dream. Somehow detached and looking on.

The spectators from the afternoon’s cricket match were still sitting in the late evening sun when we arrived. Sipping their beer, they smiled and made fun of our sixties outfits as we walked passed. Waving two fingers they shouted: “Peace Man,” and gave loud wolf whistles at our mini skirts.

A six foot poster of me dressed in black and white dominated the room. The black and white image was repeated four times in different sized mini me’s, contrasting sharply with a background of psychedelic patterns, in rainbow colours, bursting from a swirling sun. All designed by Peter.

Lizzy and the girls had done a good job decorating the room. There were streamers, and posters, and photos of me everywhere. The snaps from our childhood in West Bank Lizzy had placed carefully in chronological order near the bar, so they couldn’t be missed.

The balloons hadn’t shrunk. Swaying in the warm breeze from the open windows, they danced along with the party people.

Eddie kept the music cool and low while we greeted hippies, and mods, and rockers with affectionate hugs. San Francisco, California Dreaming and Waterloo Sunset played while friends who’d not seen each other for years got reacquainted.

Elvis was in the building. He arrived with Marilyn Monroe on his arm. Aaron came as James Bond. Hugh Hefner brought along a Playmate. Bobby Charlton with his unmistakable comb over arrived in full 1966 World Cup kit. Austin Powers AKA Peter, startled every female lisping through his dingy false teeth, “Fancy a s*** baby? Grooovy”. He’d have been equally startled if anyone had agreed. Sergeant Pepper jackets, bandanas, flowers, beads, and hippy wigs that got longer and bushier with each new party person, gradually filled the room. All fears of a poor turnout dispelled, Eddie hyped up the mood starting with My Generation.

In the middle of the long buffet table sat my Beatles cake. Perched on pure white icing, in front of their drums, were four black mop topped marzipan Beatles. They smiled up at me. Amongst the enlarged photos posted behind the table was a picture of me holding Jon as a baby. Aged ten months. He stood upright on my knee. Exuding energy. He grinned. I felt his presence.

“What yer drinkin’ Barb”, “Go on, have a drink,” I was asked continuously. I politely declined all offers, aware that alcohol and medication don’t mix. But after the buffet, I was to make a speech. Leaving my veggie curry uneaten, I rushed to the bar and ordered myself a double whiskey and coke. I downed it in one. Up on the stage, mike in hand, I thanked family, friends and work colleagues for their support over the last five years. Singling out three people, Dan, Kathryn and Lizzy, I gave each a single red rose. Eddie toasted my birthday. I toasted Kathryn & Aaron’s wedding, Jon’s release in November, and happiness.

Dan and I did a waltz to the Beatles In My Life. While everyone was still sat down, Eddie announced Austin Powers and the Powerettes. To the tune of I want Candy, Kathryn, the Playmate and Austin Powers performed a sixties routine that the real Austin would have been proud of. The girls, both trained dancers, moved like GoGo girls, in their mini skirts and white knee length boots. Austin wowed the audience with his groovy antics. The party people responded with rousing cheers and applause.

Taking their positions on stage, the dance floor vibrated as the band Reunited belted out sixties songs. A retired band, hovering around sixty themselves, they played for me as a favour to a friend. Any longer than an hour’s play and they’d need oxygen, and a lie down, I’d quipped in my speech. But the energy they played with shocked everyone.

“When are you going to announce the winners for the best fancy dress?” Hugh Hefner asked. “Elvis is sweating like a pig, and wants to de-robe.”
“The winner for the best male goes to the one and only, the King, Elvis Presley,” I announced handing him a bottle of bubbly and whispering,” You can go and remove the lycra jumpsuit, plastic stomach and nylon wig now.”
“Thanks,” He said, sweat trickling down his face.
“The best female goes to the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe.” She wiggled up to the stage, tottering on her high heels, with plunging neckline, head cocked on one side, pouting provocatively at her admirers. “That platinum blond wig really does something for you,” I said.

Although the doors and windows were open, the warm June air, plus so many people dancing in the heated atmosphere of the room, after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, resulted in numerous hippy wigs being removed throughout the night, to reveal shiny baldheads dripping with sweat. The wigs were pulled back on, sometimes scew wiff, when their owners had cooled down.

The irrepressible Eddie took over from the band, and the floorshow continued. “If you don’t stop playing they’ll stay all night,” I warned him, as the dancing grew wilder, arms and legs flying in all directions, people shimmying to the floor or rubbing up against each other dirty dancing.
No longer in the sixties, he played everything from Woops inside your head to The Deadwood Stage. This was Kathryn's song and dance way back when she was six years old. To everyone's amazement, standing in the middle of the dance floor, she reinacted her old routine, while miming to the music.
Leaving guests hugged us saying, "Best party yet!"
“I’ll just play one more,” Eddie said in response to continued pleas from the dancers. He stopped at 2.00am.
“Is it back to yours?” Lizzy’s extended family asked.
Oh no, I thought, but weakly agreed. The blackbirds were singing the dawn chorus in the trees, when I pushed the last drunken body out of the house. “Go home,” I shouted. “I’m far too old for this. I’m sixty!”

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood


Anonymous said...

How lovely! Thanks for the update - I feel as if I were there. :)

joannie said...

Nothing like starting the day with Austin Powers, yeah baby. The video clip was hilarious! It must have been a rip-roarin' good time. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just discovered your blog through your son's own blog. I am a 27 female from Montréal, I can only say that I hope my sixthiet birthday is just like yours. Surrounded by my friends and family, people I love and care for.

Thanks for sharing a beautiful day with us.

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