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January 29, 2015

Party people

Party people

I love parties. I love the meeting old friends, meeting new people, eating, drinking, dancing. Love the positivity about parties. People want to have a good time. And if they don’t, they shouldn’t come. Hosts provide the venue, the guestlist, maybe food, maybe drink,maybe music – but partygoers have an obligation to bring their party spirit and get stuck in. And get stuck in we all did. We went to a 125th birthday party. Not one individual’s birthday obviously, but the combined ages of two friends.

And what a lovely party it was; friends and family in their open plan kitchen – mountains of food, fizz and a playlist that had everyone up on their feet. One of their children gave a lovely tribute, and both responded with their usual warmth and generosity. I, of course, churned out an Ode…

 

Ode on the Occasion of the 125th

So here we are all gathered round

To celebrate two dates

The birthdays of these two young pups,

Our fabulous two mates.

There’s Gerald, Mr Stevens,

Half English and half Mick

Brought up in lovely Twickenham,

But born in Hampton (Wick?)

And Julia, lovely Julia,

Half English and half Jock,

She couldn’t wait to leave old Kent

And don a nurse’s frock

Now Gerald loved adventure

‘Over the wall’ to overseas,

An economics graduate

He wandered as he pleased

Returned at last and set to work,

In computing – he adored

His universal knowledge makes

Him Ealing’s motherboard.

Meanwhile our lively Julia,

A student nurse at George’s

Spent most time dating different lads

She could – she’s bloody gorgeous

They were worlds apart but then one night

Nurse Mary thought she would

Take Gerald to a party and it

Changed their lives for good.

They met across a crowded room,

To the booming strains of Wham

He looked long and deep in to her eyes and

Said “I am your man.”

“But we’ve only met this evening,

There’s so much that is unknown”

But Gerald pulled her close and said

  He could fix her pleasure dome.

A whirlwind courtship then ensued

Engagement and a marriage

Bet Julia did the organising and

Gerald arranged a carriage

They moved to leafy Hanwell

In 1987

The same year the birth of Richard,

Their first joyous gift from heaven

Then Edward three years later,

And Bella number three

Their love and pride exemplified

In their perfect family.

They’ve always loved to socialise

Their friends are far and wide

Dinners, picnics, parties

Their arms are open wide

Julia is a stop out

Be it theatre, dance or bars

Whereas Gerald has much expertise

In doing up old cars

They are giving, they are thoughtful,

Their hearts are made of gold

So here’s to birthday 125

Who knew they were so old?

Please raise your glasses, sound a cheer,

Let the trumpets sound a herald,

A toast to two most magnificent folk,

Our Julia and our Gerald.

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 Another Ode, this time to my sister,  a connoisoeur of doggerel generated by the family.  I think she enjoyed it – she was in tears as is her usual emotional state when anyone says anything nice about her.

It is bizarre how non-tactile we are as family members. I am less likely to kiss her in greeting than an old work colleague. Even the children screamed with amazement the first time we did it (about 10 years ago). But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about each other. Just we weren’t brought up in a household that ever said ‘I love you’ or any other sentimental guff.

We had a turbulent relationship during our teens – she was out there, getting in to trouble with my parents whilst I was a few years behind and getting away with much much more. Oh what luck it is to be the younger child. But since we both left home and didn’t have to live together under the same roof we recognise each others strengths and rely on them. And get on really well.  So, of no interest to anyone who doesn’t know her no doubt, but herewith a tribute to my sibling.

Ode on the Occasion of Kate’s 50th Birthday

And so it is that we are gathered,

On this auspicious date

To celebrate with wine and food,

The youthfulness of Kate

For aging isn’t something

That Kate cares much to do

She gets fitter, better looking

Than she was at twenty two

In childhood she seemed older,

Taking care to be so good,

And organising friends and me

Into a cycling sisterhood

Being sensible was her hallmark,

So she couldn’t believe it when,

She saw the film Pollyanna twice and

The girl broke her leg AGAIN.

From Scotland then we moved toWales,

She went straight to grammar school,

Where slowly but undoubtedly she

Started to be cool

My friends would tell me wide eyed tales

Of my sister’s latest antic

Of boys with bikes or bus or truck

No wonder Mum was frantic.

And moving swiftly on from then,

She left home at seventeen,

A gap year then to Uni

Where her Dad and Nain had been

Although English was her subject

Her forte seems to be

Making friends who’ve lasted through the years

From both home and from Uni

And then the world of work did call

With Marconi her first job

From training into personnel,

Or HR, sorry Rob.

Her loyalty and diligence,

And increasing expertise

Ensured her working life was full

As she moved around with ease.

In her twenties and her thirties

She seemed to have it all,

Enjoying country life indeed

From Kent to Dunstaball

An endless round of social whirls

With friends both far and wide

They spent their time just having fun

And learning how to ride

And of course that’s something she still does

The only family member yet

To win not one but two great big

First place red rosettes

As teens she’d sometimes slap me

“Just because I can”,

But she’s been a rock to lean on

When the s*** has hit the fan.

As an aunt she has been perfect,

Giving time, and love (and gifts)

The children all adore her

(No I’m not taking the pi**)

You are loyal, you are caring

You put others before you,

You have insight, sensitivity

And you know what’s right to do

You are modest, self-effacing

Well organised and smart

And now you seem much more relaxed

Since someone stole your heart.

So now please raise your glasses

And let’s really celebrate

The wonderful woman that she is

My elder sister Kate

Bingo!

September 13, 2012

Birthday girl and her dad

Yes, last night we got Full House for the Clarke night out. The entire London contingent plus plus ones all made it to Nobu Mayfair. Funny that.

lining up the drinks……

Two complete newbies were initiated and survived. One a plus one and the other a new housemate of ours thus a Clarke by proxy. Twelve of us in the subdued and stylish setting, so we celebrated Georgina’s birthday with the mandatory starting cocktails and champagne, (for those who arrived on time!)  moving through white wine to port.

And of course food. Yes, it is the food which attracted Georgina to choose Nobu – a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian (natch) which basically meant plates of raw fish ago-go, sushi bundles and beef. Being allergic to fish set them some challenges but they rose to it without a murmur of complaint. The waitress chose for me and she chose well – a wonderful spinach, parmesan, miso and truffle salad which doesn’t sound much but was incredibly tasty. Followed by a beautiful succulent steak and sticky rice. And then pudding that included some kind of fried pistachio nuts, icecream, and deepfried chocolate goo thing. All gooood. But having one nightmare guest wasn’t enough for our family. No – we also have someone who is allergic to gluten. Which means you can’t eat soy sauce. Amongst other things, but no soy sauce in a Japanese restaurant is tricky. Luckily the wine was soy-free so she troughed in to that 🙂

The men had to move round the table every few courses to ensure we all got chance to speak to each other, but it did mean nobody knew who had ordered which dessert and a bit of a bun fight to get the ones that looked best on arrival.

And it was all going so well until someone suggested we play the same game that got us thrown out of Fino.

our individual signs

playing the game

The one where you each have a ‘sign’ and you all clap a rhythm. the first person does their own sign and then someone else’s so they then have to do their own sign then do someone else’s. And so it goes on until someone gets it wrong and has to down their drink. With 12 different signs and a vat load of wine already on board I was having difficulty remembering my own sign let alone anyone else’s. But we all found it hilarious and the other diners found it too loud so we were out on our ear again. (note to self ; choose venues that don’t mind loud and lairy diners).

It’s all going horribly wrong now

Home in cabs and from here it gets hazy. I don’t really remember chatting in the kitchen. Or eating cheese and biscuits. Or going to bed. All that time is a blank card in the pack. And I woke this morning feeling complete shit.

Think I must have accidentally had some fish. Can’t think what else it could be.

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