September 17th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Today being party day, we made the effort to rise at a respectable hour, + head into Mosman to purchase the necessary shopping.  Also the necessary chores – having the Walkman battery case fixed, returning library books etc.  The end result however was still struggling back with armfuls of shopping – food + booze.   Then Val got stuck into all sorts of baking, with me as her faithful assistant, her Johnny Craddock.  I was also given instructions in the gentle art of pastie-making, but really I attempted something too difficult too soon, since we were making cocktail pasties, miniature versions of the real thing, + making one’s first attempt upon something so difficult was dispiriting.  However the final result was: pasties, 2 quiches, sausage rolls, bread pudding, U buns, to which I added, once Val had gone to work, toast with paste + tomato, crisps, + a dip.  Plus a bucketful of fruit punch. 

Val incidentally was insisting on working tonight, party or no party.  And so she left, leaving me to flit from room to room, preparing a bit here + a bit there in no very organised way at all.  However, eventually it was all done.  The flat was tidy, the food was prepared, the punch was sitting – all that was required was people.  However, as Mike commented on one of his rare appearances at the scene of the forthcoming event, he’d always thought this was the nicest part of a party, having done the work, everything in its place, + no people to mess things up.  I had a pull of BH to psyche myself, sat down with a glass of punch, + waited.

Some phone calls came to move things along.  From Denise, saying she couldn’t come.  From Marjorie + Bill, asking the address.  And from Angela.  Is it still on?  So, 2 fairly positive responses.  The first caller was Alan Krell (oh, he too had rung) at 10 or so.  He looked suitably bemused at being the first one there, but that is generally the way first arrivals look.

Fortunately, not too much longer afterwards, there were more.  John + Jean.  Alan + I were in the kitchen, so they had to brave walking thro’ a long + most unpartylike house in order to check they had the right place.  Soon after, a real flood – 3 people at once.  Sandy, his friend Alan, + I was delighted to see Marg too.  She had had a previous engagement, but luckily for her, (+ much more for me) it had been postponed.  So here she was.  Mike appeared about now,  – he’d been sleeping , but had been lured from his bed.  And this was the limit that the party reached.  (Anybody with any savvy will quickly work out that that makes only *, but I had forgotten Angela, who arrived later.  And Val arrived later, but Krell had left by that time, so the balance was maintained.

So what happened to everyone else?  Marjorie + Bill, Caroline, Penny, Sandy, John Bush, Big Dave, Kevin, Sandy, Derek + his wife, all of Val’s workmates?  Sod ‘em all, that’s what I say.  Nonetheless, or even because of their absence, the party was most definitely a success.  It started in the kitchen, chatting, drinking, eating, + luckily, seeing as there were so few, we all got on.  And then, after an hour or so, into the living-room for a bop.  I was about the only feller to bop – except John, once – but this bothered me not at all.  Krell left early, Mike went back to bed, + Alan + Sandie spent most of the time on the settee in the sun lounge.  No, nothing like that.  They were, it seems, very tired after a rage the night before.  So for me, several of my fantasies rolled into one.  I had a ball, dancing with first Jean, then Marg, then Val, then Angela.  Even, at one stage, if my memory serves me correctly, with 3 of them at one go.  Angela was also very busy with her camera, shooting off a whole roll of film.  At the end of the evening, she presented us with it, on condition we sent her a set.  Which was crafty of her, since it means we pay for it, not her.   But we don’t mind, of course, I’ve always wanted a series of pictures at a party, but am always far too drunk or involved to manage it.

And so, at some ridiculous hour or other, I made coffee, + people left.  It seems sadder now, a week on, than it did at the time, because only now does the realisation sink in that one is very unlikely to see any of them again.

So no, not yet on the road again – I thought I would re-start with a farewell to Sydney, in the form of a farewell party. Quite a low-key affair, as you will have seen, bu7t enjoyable, nonetheless.. Some explanations in order, however, seeing as you have just been plonked down in the midst of this world, without much idea of who anyone is.

First explanation i9s BH, aka Bob Hope, aka (by way of rhyming slang) dope. Or pot, or marijuana, or one of a host of other names. It had been pretty much readily available throughout our stay in Sydney, and I had chosen to take advantage. And then we come to a host of names, some of whom I have no idea about, so I have to suppose they weren’t exactly important people in our lives, even then. Denise, Marjorie, Bill, Alan Krell…? Not a clue. Angela was a young woman who had spent a few weeks in the office, and with whom we had become friendly. And John and Jean you do know about, if you have been following the story so far – our sailing friends from the South Pacific. But as for that long-ish list of absentees, vurtually all came from my workplace (though Val’s workplace was equally deficient.) So it was as thought thery had never been. And for the most part, their absence was no great loss.

But it would appear that I had a ball, dancing as I used to, and thus making myself the centre of things – a very small centre of an even smaller world.

But was I right? Did we see any of them again? Angela we did, visiting her in New York a couple of years later. And Pat we stayed with for one night on our journey north. Mike visited us once, briefly, on a trip back home. And John and Jean we maintained conversation with for a couple of years, via letters, before that fizzled out. So, for the most part, we didn’t see them again. But that’s the way it goes… and no huge regrets.

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