Saturday, 9 June 2012

Jubilee Party

After weeks of worrying that too few tickets had sold and the party would be a flop, and then days of worrying that too many tickets had sold and we'd never have enough food, I awoke to rain.

It was the thick, endless kind that coats the daylight in a gloomy shade of grey and drums the earth with a repetitive rhythm that offers no hope of a reprieve. It splashed on soggy streams of bunting, it dripped down the roadside party signs and it turned the church field into a pool of mud.

And so, after weeks of planning and dreaming up and discussing the perfect party, I had to resign myself to the fact that our Jubilee party would be held in the unromantic setting of the functional Parish Hall.

I watched as dreams of a village gathered in a bunting-strung field slipped away into the puddles, and as images of little girls running through the grass trailing bubbles in their wake, Chinese lanterns drifting whimsically up into the starry sky, accordion music floating out from beneath the peaks of gazebos and a burning brazier shooting golden sparks into the dark drowned amidst the downpour.

For a few hours I stamped and sulked and bickered with God, and saw only the grey.

But then there was no more time for sulking because there was Sunday school to run and a final shopping trip to make and salads to prepare and pudding to make.

Lots of puddings to make.

All afternoon, I mixed and whipped and sliced and stuck and sprinkled.

I loaded my dining table with desserts, and when they were done I loaded them into the boot of James' car, and headed out for the party.

And despite all the gloom of the morning, and the madness of the afternoon, the party itself was perfect.

Family after family tramped out of the rain into a hall that had been transformed with bunting and fairy lights, and suddenly it was a celebration full of chatter and noise and food and drink and laughter and flag-waving, national-anthem-singing joy.

We served up plate after plate of food, until no one could eat another bite, and John, who could not be dissuaded from thinking that it was his birthday and that this whole elaborate party was for him, and who could be heard singing 'Happy Birthday to John' quietly to himself throughout the evening, partied like a pro.

He ran happily about with the big children whilst James and I worked, and when the clock had struck half past ten, the rest of the children had gone home and James and I wearily wiped tables and stacked chairs and searched in vain for lost crockery, John clambered onto the stage and danced with all the clumsy, joyous abandon that only a tired toddler can.

I'm not sure why I wanted to organise a Jubilee party so very much. It's not because I'm a royalist (although I think that perhaps at heart I am) or because it wouldn't have happened without me (because I'm sure in some form it would) but because I want to be a part of this community in which I live.

I want to know the people I pass on the street and I want my little boy to be known and loved by a family that's bigger that just us three.

And as I watched proudly as my happy boy ran between well-known legs and received flashes of well-known smiles, and ate bits of well-known people's biscuits, I realised that that's what I'd achieved. And it felt flag-wavingly, cork-poppingly good.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! What a fantastic achievement - to organise a village party is a great gift to a community and you will have made so many happy memories - not just for your family.

    Those pies look scrumptious - is that a Banoffee pie I see before me?