Yesterday afternoon, family and friends gathered at a local social club for my mum’s surprise 80th birthday party. Upon entering the event room, filled with almost thirty family and friends, her arrival was greeted with a hearty yell of “Surprise!!”, Her awareness of the ruse led Maggie to look deeply moved.
After the initial euphoria’d died down, I approached mater to ask if it’d been a nice surprise. An inquiry leading to the ditzy mare replying “I’ll say it was, love…… I didn’t even know it was my bleeding birthday!”
The clandestinely arranged party was attended by immediate family and close friends who’d travelled from as far afield as Kent, Cheshire, Tyne & Wear and Moor Knoll Lane. All people whose love for my mum rendered those miles no barrier to celebrating the old lady’s special day…… Additionally, not wishing to miss out on a free lunch and the inexpensive drink prices of East Ardsley’s Conservative Club.
The Connie Club’s beverage prices so low, reaching the minimum of £5 contactless card limit necessitated the purchase of a large round of drinks. As is the case with the great institute of British working mens clubs, you can get 3/4 pints for the cost of a pint in a city centre pub.
I’m not party to the establishments current subscription charges, however, when my late dad joined the Connie Club thirty years ago the yearly subs were £3 a year. As a new member he was given £5 in beer tokens upon enrolling. So, in effect, for the first year the club were paying my old man £2 to be a member.
Footnote – To clarify, when I wrote ‘when my late dad joined’ above. He wasn’t late at the time of joining. The Connie Club has a strict ‘No Dead Members’ policy, which’d have gone against him at that juncture.
The bash was organised by my sister Helen, who never sat down during yesterday’s proceedings. Her thoughtful desire that everyone was suitable refreshed and entertained meaning she put herself last, as is her want. Her workload not helped by her two brother’s sitting on their backsides eating, drinking and talking to the accumulated throng, instead of providing a helping hand.
Although only the third funniest of Maggie’s children, as the eldest, I wrote and delivered a very brief and uncharacteristically nervily delivered pre-toast speech. Three small sheets of paper which, like these narratives, containing an amalgam of whimsical fact and fiction.
Within the trinity of leaf’s were memories of mum when the three of us (her offspring) were children. Tales including her penchant for seemingly having a song to accompany any current life episode. Predominantly refrains originally aired from the boards of Old Music Halls.
I pointed out in my oratory that due to mother’s habit of singing these ditties, by the age of seven, my brother Ian, Helen and me, were acquainted with all 72 verses of ‘Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line’. My young siblings and I also able to perform accomplished cover versions of ‘Boiled Beef & Carrots.
When we were slightly older, through this musical conduit, mum revealed Hitler had only had one ball. Goering had two but very small. Himmler had something similar, but poor old Goebbels had no balls at all.
During this brief delivery of memories, I also spoke of mum’s local community voluntary roles in the 1970s/80s. Among them performing roles as a Guider, Ranger Leader, helping run a youth club, delivering Meals on Wheels and work as an infant school dinner nanny.
She particular loved the dinner nanny role, where her engaging and funny nature allowed her to build strong bonds with both kids and staff. In fact, through my mum’s tutoring, Oakfield Infants School became the first teaching establishment in the UK to include ‘Hitler Has Only Got One Ball.’ within the Nativity play.
I closed my oration by relating the humour of mum’s amateur punditry during test match cricket. Her opinions generally coloured by parameters such a how clean the players whites are, whether or not they have a “scruff arse beard” and they behave appropriately on and off the field.
Two years ago, this criteria leading to,, after Ben Stokes barroom altercation, stated very firmly that “I wouldn’t be ‘aving that Stokes in my team!”…… Thank god she wasn’t chair of the England cricket selectors at the time!!