I said yesterday that I only had time for a short blog and then proceeded to write one of normal length. Today though, it really is only a quick one. You see today is Hazel’s birthday and we shall be celebrating as best as we can. Hazel is rather fond of birthdays whereas I couldn’t give a damn. It was not always like this of course. As a youngster I liked my birthdays as much as any other child but I suppose, if we are brutally honest, it was only so we could see what material goodies we would get.
I don’t remember having birthday parties yet the photographic evidence is there. They were very small affairs. My sister and I have birthdays just two days apart so they were probably joint parties. Normal guests would likely be me and my sister with our local cousins and one or two friends and neighbours sat round the table. I recall going to other people’s parties where they could push the boat out a little more. Simon Fishpool, whose family own the famous Fishpools department store in Waltham Cross had his in the garage. Only the garage seemed to stretch back for miles. It took several wallpaper tables to seat us all. Sally Patten’s dad was a talented and well-known children’s entertainer and I remember getting the full works there one year. Puppets (A flying saucer and a penguin are ringing bells) and I think balloon animals.
When I was 18 my parents allowed me to have a party but not only were they to be there but several relatives were invited too. Actually, the mix of friends and relations worked quite well and it was good party even if I did have to keep sneaking out for a fag.
But it was my post-18 parties that became legendary. As one or two friends worked in town, we decided to hold my pub crawl celebrations in the city of an evening. Now the city after 6pm is a very different place than during the day (or at least it was back in the early eighties). We would begin in the Moorgate area about 5pm and then head up on to the high walk with various friends joining us along the way. As the night drew on we would loop back towards Liverpool Street where we would finally hit the last train home. At least I hope we met that train because the one thing I hated above all other things was catching the night bus home. And we did that often enough but damned if I was going to end my birthday celebrations by stopping every 30 yards and taking 2 hours to get to Waltham Cross. By rights I shouldn’t remember anything about those birthday pub crawls but I do, and they were quite delicious.
By the time I reached 40 I had found sobriety and celebrated my birthday in an adult manner at Cuffley Youth Centre. It was a lovely day with many old friends attending. Inevitably, some of us got all nostalgic about the days when we staggered blindly around London. You see, you can take the drink off of the boy, but you can’t really take the man out of the memories.