Tuesday, January 11, 2005

May the hinges of friendship never rust...

There seem to be quite a lot of 40ths going down at the moment, indeed there were two rival events last Saturday. Karen (Wifey) went to a school chum one in Manchester and I went to other long-standing friends in Warwickshire. It would have been good to both go to the same event but I wouldn't have known anyone at the Manchester one & Karen had already committed to it a long time before the other invite arrived. I was originally going to be the Babysitter but a Grandma stepped into the breach so that I could get a pass-out.

Sharon (the birthday girl) is long-term partner of Dave who has a wide circle of friends across unusual disciplines, including horticulture, media production & retail purchasing. As well as family & new friends made locally, there is also a common thread of people they both met through Eighteen Plus, the social organisation that both Dave & myself were heavily active in during the 80s & 90s. Any event organised by Dave is not to be missed as he puts on a good show- there was a Marquee, a Band, a Barbie Gazebo, food & drink a-plenty & a touch of Bacchus about the merriment.

It is delightful to meet up with old friends, absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. I'm a bit of a people watcher on the quiet & I was reflecting on the changes to us all over the years. There was a time when we used to bring sleeping bags and simply crash out, now we prefer hotels. We can't do things quite as much on a whim as we have to take families into account. Some of us (not me though) are on second or third marriages so there are taboo topics to avoid (such as certain previous partners). Most of the blokes don't have as much hair as they had and there is a lot of salt & pepper sprinkled around (& at least one rug!). Shop talk used to be about promotion & getting on at work, now it is TUPE, regulatory compliance & going self-employed. We aren't as outrageous as we used to be, no Burgers stuck to walls or shopping trolley dances but we did have the culinary delights of "Spam Surprise", an alternative birthday cake. The other thing that struck me was the influence of Eros, the complex threads of romance sprinkled through the assembled throng, a number of people had certainly been "courting" (to use an old fashioned word) & some might have even been "dinking" (a polite made-up word*) before settling down. The more stable the current relationship, the more outrageous the flirting! Catch-phrases from decades ago re-surface (influenced by Harry Enfield, Red Dwarf & shared events) & the current catch phrases are heavily influenced by peter Kay.

There was talk of revitalising the Center Parcs events which dwindled somewhat as children went through early years & we all reflected on absent friends, particularly Charles who died in tragic circumstances and is sadly missed. The Greys are having a family holiday to Ribby Hall in the Summer, we will reflect on the suitability of it for the posse after we go.

The title of this entry comes from the 41 Club grace, something that Round Tablers join after they retire from active membership (it used to be at 40, it is now 45). Mike, Muggsy, Ginny, Steve, Sally, Mark, Shippy, Shazza, Dave, Roy, Ann-Marie, Martin, Janice & all the other regulars, get that WD-40 out!

Happy Birthday Shazza, we decided not to give you the bumps in deference to you wearing a skirt. I expect you all at my 50th it isn't that far away, it will need a lot of you to bump me...

**Footnote** I think I'll submit "dinking" to Roger's Profanisaurus at Viz Magazine, it has origins with Juke Box 45 RPM singles, a record is said to be dinked if the spindle-hole is enlarged.

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