Birthday Parties

I remember my 20th birthday party. I reached that age while we still lived in our ‘luxury flat’ in Bayswater. Really, my party consisted of my family and my friend Shaun. My boyfriend had broken up with me earlier in the year and I was still trying to get over him. I remember having a gin and tonic, then lying on the floor in quite a depressed state. Shaun said she thought she could get Lance Percival to come to the party. I thought that might cheer me up so she rang his number and left a message inviting him. He never turned up, nor did he ring up. I carried on being depressed – and gave up gin for the next 50 years!

Old telephone

My 21st birthday was completely different. By this time I had met and fallen for a totally unsuitable man. He didn’t have a job, still lived at home though he was 28, and told lies very easily. Though he changed my life completely, I really only knew him for a couple of months. Now, remember, I lived in “Swinging London” and was a modern young woman (who still believed that a woman’s future was with a man who would love her and look after her for ever and ever, Amen.)

I was pregnant. I had to hide it from my job – I would probably have lost my job if the bosses knew. I hid it from my family for about two and a half months but they finally had to be told. Judy was furious with me, Jennie was a bit confused, I think, and Patty…..was Patty. She made me feel worse than I already felt. I had been brought up in small town America where “good” girls didn’t lose their virginity until they were married (at least that’s what EVERYONE said). I had already spent several weeks thinking it wasn’t possible that I was pregnant but I was! Abortions were illegal but happened. Personally, I didn’t want an abortion. I had no idea what having a baby might mean but I knew that I couldn’t “get rid” of it. (At that time I had no idea that it was a girl.)

The relationship ended before that birthday – though his mum would have been happy to be a grandma. He ended that year by “borrowing a car without the owner’s permission” and spending a few months in jail. He ‘borrowed’ the car, apparently, from his new girlfriend. Not sure how long that relationship had lasted but it ended quite quickly!

Patty being Patty was determined that I should have an abortion and found a doctor who would carry out the procedure safely. I went with Patty to his office and she discussed my ‘problem’ with him, then he asked her to leave while he examined me – and I told him that I wanted to carry on with the pregnancy. That doctor was a hero! He lied to Patty that I was too far gone for it to be safe, and we went home. A few weeks went by. Life went on. On the 17th of April, 1964, my 21st birthday, I went to work as usual and on my way home bought my mother a bunch of flowers to say thanks for giving birth to me.

The flowers were wasted! When I got home there was a terrible panic! Patty had decided not to go to work and started drinking in the early afternoon – or even the late morning. She put a load of washing in the semi-automatic washing machine. Semi-automatic meant that you had to wheel the machine over to the sink, put the ‘in’ hose on the tap and drape the ‘out’ hose over the sink, then turn on the water so it would fill the machine and turn it off before it overflowed. Patty forgot the turning off bit.

She went into the lounge and had a bit more to drink then realised that there was a dripping noise coming from the kitchen. She ran into the kitchen, saw the machine overflowing ——and didn’t know how to stop it! Eventually she called a repairman who came fairly quickly, took one look and turned off the tap. I wasn’t there yet and don’t know if he charged her for the call out or whether he felt sorry for her.

A little worse than the over-flowing washing machine in our kitchen!

When I got home the hall carpet was soaking wet and – much worse – the water had overflowed through the ceiling into the flat below! Luckily, the people in the flat below were way for several weeks. No one ever seems to have said anything! Or maybe they did but I never was told.

Of course the baby turned out to be my own bundle of joy, Veronica, and the entire family loved her from the moment she was born (I loved her from well before that!)

My next, and latest, birthday party was just over a week ago. Veronica was in charge of it all. She chose a venue, the menu, the wonderful cup cake with my face on rice paper on the top and the decorations. (Bunting with my photo on!) I had to give her the email addresses and names of all the people I could think of from the friends I’ve made in Broadstairs to the people I went to college with – including the young man who broke my heart back when I was not quite 19, and another young man from even further back than that. I invited my cousin Fred and his wife Linda who came all the way from Georgia USA, and my brothers-in-law, one of whom lives in Belgium and the other near Bristol. Veronica sent out emails to everyone telling them where, when and why, then sent a reminder email. There were 40 people at the party with only a few who weren’t able to make it!

I had a wonderful time, chatting with friends I hadn’t seen since before covid; Veronica’s estranged best friend, Betty; some of the people from Thanet whom I have met over the past 17 years; the in-laws, the cousin and his wife, and the 2 young men (now much older!) who left me bereft back in the mists of time.

Lance Percival wasn’t invited this time!

(I haven’t been able to add any photos. For some reason the site has changed but not bothered to tell me how to put a photo on. If I find out how, I’ll add some later! )

About Candy

I am 74, was a teacher, then a dealer in antiques and collectables. When I retired to the seaside I started website selling antique and vintage games and wooden jigsaw puzzles. Now, I'm spending my time blogging, gardening and making oil paintings.
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1 Response to Birthday Parties

  1. andrea chappell says:

    Thanks ,Candy for a lovely party, great food and great company, and lovely to see the slides of you throughout the years. I love the photo of you in your Prom dress . Xx

    Sent from Outlook for iOS ________________________________


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