Wednesday, 28 March 2007

A Regular Party

A Critique of A Regular Party
but they wanted to share the mood of Peace and Love. They wore flowers in their hair, metaphorically and literally. Although largely married, havin
The last Saturday night in January I arrived at a house in Surrey at about eight o’clock. There were about another thirty people there, mostly around my age, a smattering of forty year olds, and a couple of adolescents. Guests arrived with a bottle of wine, some brought food. Everyone wore something strange on their heads, a wig, a mask, or a hat. The lights were flatteringly low, the house was warm, casual seating everywhere, and a table loaded with fresh food. I had lots of chats with old friends, met several new people, had a bit of fun with various headgear and arrived home at around 1.30am
This event, with variation, has been a regular date for around forty years, it being a celebration of the host’s birthday. It ticks many boxes. It is a way of returning hospitality; it gives a focus to the dark grey days of January to distract from post-Christmas blues. It ensures that the house gets a good going over. Most important of all though, it reinforces friendships. This factor over-rides all others and was the founding principle at its inception.
As a cultural phenomenon it belongs in the latter years of the Swinging Sixties. The eight people who still form the core group of the guests wanted a taste of the current Zeitgeist.
They were a little older than the youngsters who went to Isle of Wight Festival, g families, they did not want to feel trapped in the nuclear unit. They wanted to have good friends, of both sexes. They wanted to discuss art, books, clothes, cars, films, sex and relationships late into the night. They listened to the Beatles, but they danced to the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, Dr Hook Bob Dylan, among many others.
Parents warned that it would all end in tears, and indeed, some were shed. The guest list varied as relationships faltered and altered. New people came and went and have continued to do so. However there is a core group of about sixteen people who always celebrate.
Does the formula still work? Is this an annual trip into nostalgia, pleasant once a year? Do guests sit in prescribed places holding forth about the inadequacies of younger people? Are they complacent? Are they self-satisfied? If there was any of that I missed it.
Does it fulfil its aims to reinforce friendship within and across the gender divide? Is the conversation still lively and stimulating? Is there still a touch of carnival, of Saturnalia, a universal wish to cut through the commonplace and touch the exotic? Do they still dance?
Well, it looked like it, except that this year they did not dance, but they will next year.

I give it xxxx

Posted my Story!

Finally managed to copy and paste my story. Now please will someone read it? At the time I was just glad to complete it.
I did follow the structure of the three wishes very closely;too closely?

I have lots of other reservations about it now, but don`t want to put anyone off!

Needing to know

Needing To Know

Helen was feeling a little bit frustrated. Her Dad Tom was definitely not prepared to dig into his memory and give her the answers she wanted. It was now four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, the weekend had almost gone and soon she would have to take her aged, disabled, but beloved parent back to his nursing home, leave her brother’s Vicarage and make the long journey home to Manchester. If she left it too late she would miss seeing her own family before the new working week began.
So, no pressure then, she thought to herself, as Freda her sister-in-law, calmly brought in tea and the usual, too tempting, chocolate caramel slices. As she helped Dad drink the tea and enjoy the sweet cake she knew that she should not press him, he had enough to make him unhappy. He had had a stroke five years previously, he could not walk, he needed 24hour care, and he was blind. He was resisting telling her about the distressing events which had culminated in his mother’s apparent insanity and incarceration in a Mental Hospital for the last seventeen years of her life. And she could not blame him. So she sat back, enjoyed her own tea and decided never to press him again. If he wanted to tell her, he would do so in his own time. In her heart of hearts though, Helen knew this would never happen now, too much hurt.
The doorbell rang. David, her overworked brother, sighed deeply as he rose to answer it, brushing away Freda’s offer,
“It’ll be for me,” he said.
Helen, Freda and Tom chatted amiably for some time and Helen’s chances of getting home in good time faded as each minute passed. Finally David returned and between them they got Tom into the car and delivered him to the home. David and Helen had a few minutes alone as they returned to the Vicarage for Helen to pick up her own car and resume her own life, duty done, for another weekend.
They were comfortable together, and Helen enquired as to what or who had kept him at the door for so long.
“Well, it was a gypsy, and I’m a bit embarrassed about how stupidly I handled him!” David said wryly. “I was aware of your need to get away, and therefore tried to cut his story short and I accepted an amulet from him. He told me that if I held it in my right hand and wished it would grant me three wishes. You can imagine, I don’t even want the damn thing in the house. He had a very menacing look about him though and I caved in to get rid of him, took his warning that it was very powerful and saw him off.”
“I’ll take it,” said big sister Helen. “It’s just an object. I’ll have a bit of fun with it.”

And, despite David’s protests, Helen found herself contemplating the shrivelled animal’s paw with her own family as she enjoyed a hot drink back in Manchester and chatted over the events of her stay. Absentmindedly she played with the strange thing and then found herself wishing out loud,” I just wish I could find out what happened without upsetting Dad.”
“Whoops! That’s one wish gone,” said Terry.
“Oh no! That’s silly and I don’t believe in it anyway. Come on let’s call it a day.” They were both sceptical about the supernatural, indeed any religion, but you couldn’t help your doubts sometimes.
“Following your enquiries of two years ago, we are informing you that the statuary time has now passed and you are now able to access the medical records of Mrs Daphne Woods who was in this Institution for seventeen years from 1937 until she died here in 1954”
“Oh my god how weird is that?”
Helen rushed off to work two days later, her mind already working on the questions she wanted to ask. Later both Terry and David urged caution, not wanting her to be upset about something so long ago, and about which she could do nothing. However, Helen was implacable. She must have the truth, or at least a version as reflected in the medical notes. She was not a fool; she knew this would not necessarily be the whole story.
Finally, after some arrangements, she and Terry found themselves on the road to Sheffield, where Grandma had died, with mixed feelings. She had not told her Dad, thinking to protect him from bad memories. He had nightmares anyway, he didn’t need more grief. However she knew that this was in itself a deceitful act and there had already been too many secrets in the family. However, she had taken that pragmatic decision, whatever the outcome, for the best of motives.
Three hours later, back in the car, they were both too shattered to move for a while. Finally they gathered themselves together and went for some lunch. The information had been very disturbing, a long catalogue of self-harm, violence received and perpetrated, hidden knives, refusing food, even a stillborn child.
“I’m just so glad I didn’t let you come on your own,” Terry said as they finished their meal.
“So am I,” admitted Helen “but I just wish I could give her a hug and comfort her, even though they never let me see her. Such agony, such misery, such confusion,
“Do not wish for such things Helen, you know how dodgy it is”
“Too late! You don’t think I came here without the monkey’s paw do you?”
Despite her Christian upbringing, her scientific education, Helen had been sufficiently swayed by the “coincidental” arrival of the letter releasing records she had been

waiting years to see, She wasn’t going to give up her chance of two more wishes, just in case……..
“Right then! Home?”
But Helen was not ready to leave yet. She wanted to walk round the grounds on this bright spring day, just for half an hour, calm herself, have a better memory of the place, and restore the balance. They parked the car, went through the gates, and turned right into the copse which for many years had protected the place from prying eyes. Or the clear light of day, thought Helen, sadly.
Though all seemed fine now, with Helen, Terry was worried. He knew how deeply Helen had been affected by the gruesome history they had endured that morning. It seemed a good idea to come back and walk among the daffodils and ease the memory of the place, but she still had the amulet. He knew that she knew that he knew that the second wish was in the air. Suddenly, she took off her coat, passed it to him, straightened her shoulders and strolled ahead, wanting her own space. He let her go. She could cope.
He hung around, looking at the distant views over towards the Pennines looking forward to the relief of journeying home to their normal life. He loved the hills, the sheep, Snake Pass, and the long run down into Manchester. He was a true Northerner. Hurriedly he shut away his longings and quickened his pace to catch up with Helen. As he rounded the last tree he froze. Helen too was standing stock still, on his left but ahead, and rigid, silent tears falling down her face. Beyond this statuesque figure Terry could see the back of someone else. Under a tree about forty yards away, on an old wooden seat, there was a woman, dressed in black, sitting with her head bowed. Helen began to move as if in a trance, hardly lifting her feet. Terry hesitated, not wanting to break the spell. He felt in the coat for the object in the pocket and equally silent, followed. There she was, the long hair in an old style, the fur collar as in the old photograph. It had to be her. They got closer, Helen stretched out her arms. Terry squeezed the paw, and mouthed the third wish.

The woman turned, aware of a movement in the corner of her eye, smiled, and said, “Nearly spring isn’t it? We’ll soon be able to leave off our winter coats.” She stood up, giving Helen time to adjust. “I love it round here, usually have it to myself, nice to see someone else, for a change.” And off she drifted, disappearing into the trees.