Saturday, 5 July 2014
I was Ae's 'plus one' tonight at a 60th birthday. The celebrating sextagenarian was a teacher with Ae years ago and there was a fair sprinkling of school and higher learning teachers in attendance. Most of these teacher friends brought their spouses/partners to the party and Ae was keen to have me there as a sort of 'beard' in reverse. Apart from Ae I knew only one other person at the party and that was not the birthday 'girl'.
On what was by Sydney's standards a very cold night and in their home near to the ocean our hosts had set up a marquee in the back terrace; a totally tiled area. There was recorded music playing loudly when we arrived so that conversation was difficult to follow. I was in for a night smiling and nodding affirmations to conversations I could not hear.
All the trappings for a live band including microphones were set up at one end of the terrace awaiting a live performance but when it came for the speeches, one each by the birthday girl's husband and the birthday girl herself, for some reason they chose to deliver these from the other end of terrace minus any amplification. I strained to hear their words.
The live band performance followed. This was from a group of four retirees, amateurs all. The birthday girl's husband and three of his mates delivered a concert of about six songs from 'our' era (The Beatles, Eric Burdon, etc) at a decibel level which another partygoer commented to me (shouting at top level) 'artfully concealed that they were singing completely out of tune'.
At a pre arranged moment some guests threw their spare underwear at the band in a vaguely Tom Jones memorial moment. I did not participate although when I made to remove my jacket Ae looked at me horrified thinking I was about to undress to remove my underpants. There was never any chance of that.
Finger food was in abundance as was the range and quantity of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It was a generous evening and despite the noise levels I did enjoy myself even if I had little idea of any of the conversation around me.
But my days of standing on solid tiles for hours on end are well and truly over.