Loyal followers of my reminiscent outpourings and those of you who may have come upon them accidentally may recall that there have been two occasions since February 2009 https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2009/04/23 and https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2010/07/27 when former work colleagues and friends have drifted back into contact with me only to be cruelly snatched away again!
I don’t wish to dwell on those sad stories because they represent only the negative side of the “lost friendships balance sheet”.
So, what’s on the positive side of that balance sheet?
Well, to start with there was my sudden, surprising, fun and (initially anyway) intensely wordy resumption of contact with my former classmate, Vincent, after nearly 40 years. This man, who has retired to the wilds of an ancient eastern kingdom (prompting me to refer to him as “my old school Thai”) inspired me by his own literary efforts to start this humble blog and has been instrumental in drawing in another classmate, Richard (aka Hank) with whom I had only had fleeting contact previously.
Now there are more “plusses” – not school or work friends this time! And all as a result of a tiny link to this site that I placed amongst my details on the Friends Reunited website about 18 months ago.
To put things in their correct historical context I refer you to my offering titled “Saturday” https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2009/10/05 which gave you a little snapshot of weekends during 1976 and 1977. There was a similar, even smaller, snippet of that time in “The song remains the same…” here https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/
In these pieces I referred to my lodger, Andy.
The reason why I had a house, and a mortgage at that place and time belongs to a chapter of my personal story that I shall probably never bother to set down here – suffice it to say that while I had the mortgage I really, really needed the lodger and the fact that we got on so well was a brilliant bonus!
From that you will, being intelligent, reasoning beings, have deduced that my latest resumption of old friendships came from him. Not quite. It was “near enough” though as the initial contact came through a comment made to an old post on this very site in the names of Andy and Chris, his wife.
And now that communications are open Faith and I are emailing Andy and Chris and trying not to exhaust all the history, news and events concerning our respective families at one go so that we can stay in touch and maybe even resume contact with other old friends from those times. I really do hope we don’t drift away again!
If you remember the title of this piece you may recall that articles with titles beginning “The CD of my life..” concern tracks which trigger (or are triggered by)fond memories of particular events and you may be wondering how that ties in with the previous ten paragraphs.
Well, when Andy’s name appeared in that comment last week a whole raft of the little boxes, into which my memory is divided, floated to the surface levels of my consciousness. They all related to our time residing together at 9 Beaconsfield Road, Ipswich between January 1976 and January 1979 inclusive.
And the most prominent of them all was the one labelled “Party!”
I don’t know how things are now but in the 1970s a situation with two 20-something blokes in a house, removed from the restraints of either parents or permanent partners would inevitably result in loud, drunken soirees involving dozens of people squeezing into a 1930s semi-detached house on occasional Saturday nights.
We wouldn’t have wanted to be the ones to buck THAT trend, now would we?
So, every so often, and usually with no particular event in mind, the word would go out for a forthcoming weekend (preferably one with no home football match) and the preparations would begin.
As far as beer was concerned (let’s discuss the important factors first!)we did make quite a contribution ourselves and I believe that one of the local off-licence chains held a “trade” account in the name of “The Inland Revenue Social Club” of which the local offices of said Government Department had no knowledge whatsoever! That was fine for the crates of Light Ale and so-called “Ladies’ drinks” but for serious consumption we went much more locally.
I had, of course, two next door neighbours; the adjoining semi-detached was occupied by some not very nice people who were acquainted with my ex–mother-in –law. We didn’t speak to them at all! The end of terraced house on the other side, however, was occupied by an absolutely lovely family!
Brian, a forty-something train driver with a magnificent Walrus moustache, lived at number 7 with his wife Ruby and their two young children. They most certainly DID get invited although the youngsters weren’t allowed to go and Ruby stayed at home to babysit them.
Brian’s contribution to the festivities (and I have to state quite categorically that he was invited because he was a great bloke and NOT because of what he brought) was some of his home-brewed beer. Not a few bottles but a NINE GALLON barrel! That’s 72 pints, or if you want to go Euro, just over 40 litres.
So, we were well equipped on the booze front – the next item was food. And, would you believe, I don’t have the faintest memory of what food was provided or who provided it! I’m guessing that, as it was a 1970s party, it would have included various combinations of sausage, cheese, pineapple pieces and pickled onions on sticks and the catering was probably done by various wives/girlfriends of my mates. Perhaps someone who attended could let me know!
And to get back on topic, the one remaining factor to be prepared was the MUSIC.
Not so much the content – plenty of people offered us albums to use and I had a whole load of cassettes laboriously recorded from the BBC’s chart shows – but the volume.
We reasoned as follows: a house full of people on party night would tend to muffle the sounds of the music even with the volume cranked up, therefore if we played some REALLY loud stuff every night for the week before with just the two of us there and DIDN’T get any complaints the neighbours would have no grounds to call the police on the Saturday!
In fact, what we did was stick the loudest album we could find on the record deck and clear off to bed!
The album in question comprised concert recordings by Slade, was titled “Slade Alive” and it literally rattled the windows at the front of the house. My room was right above one of the speakers and I could FEEL the sound through the floor just as well as I could hear it! Needless to say I couldn’t sleep until it finished and the end was heralded by this track which sums up the whole experience for me:
To me it is, in terms of volume, power and sheer awesomeness WAY better than the comparatively weak, sanitised version offered up by Steppenwolf for the movie “Easy Rider”.
And the parties? Invariably successful I should say! The Coppers never asked us to “turn it down”, there never seemed to be a shortage of beer and I always had a terrible hangover for the next few days! On the down side the kitchen floor where Brian’s barrel had dripped, would, even after mopping, be sticky for weeks but we lived with that!
My good neighbour always had an interesting time too! Brian’s other hobby after brewing was making curries – the sort that you prepare, leave to marinate for a few days (or weeks!), and then warm up when you’re feeling brave enough to eat it! At the party he would chat up some unattached female by telling her what a great cook he was and invite her back next door for a curry!
I gather that Ruby, his long suffering spouse was quite accustomed to this and would be sitting in the kitchen waiting with her dressing gown on and her hair in curlers to greet them and put the oven on for him!
They were indeed Great Days but would I want to go back to them?