Of course nature was cruel. Saturday was after all the centenary of the assassination of the Archduke. The event that triggered the lights going out, the losing of a generation and a second Thirty Years War which created as much misery and pestilence as the first. Nature showed its regret by raining on and off all day.
Which didn’t help our street party held in the small park overlooking the river at the end of our street. It didn’t help but it didn’t hinder. In the end twenty seven houses paid up £1100. The flags and bunting went up. The tables and the drinks were carried in. The good ladies had laboured hard and long to produce mountains of food-much of which would not be eaten-such is the way of these events.
The industrial quantities of booze , a few umbrellas, some anoraks and some very mature trees kept most of the rain at bay. And so the fun began. The kids were of course the stars and the motor of the show. As they struggled in their three legged race, as they rushed around on their treasure hunt as they primped and modelled for the fancy dress. But of course what they really loved was the tug of war. Give twenty kids a rope and a park and they can find infinite ways of tying themselves, trees and the world up in glorious knots.
Meanwhile we not so much grown up but of more years did what we always do. The tradition of the street party has a tenement feel from the years of poverty, depression and rationing. Rows of hungry children tucking into rare jelly and ice cream as their exhausted mothers in turbans and their donkey fathers without ties look on. But we are not poverty stricken, our children have jelly and ice cream for breakfast and we have not closed out street. We have instead turned a corner of a park into a living room hosting a perfectly proper drinks,,buffet and what do you do party.
Most of us have no connection with the history of families mucking together, sharing and caring so that some will survive. My family like most put the bour into bourgeoisie many generations ago. But still we enjoy the convenience and warmth that comes of knowing who your neighbours are, even having friendships(however temporary) and of course the simple pleasure of doing things together.
Or maybe,,just maybe, we the middle class who now live in extended artisan dwellings have inherited, because of the proximity of our terraced homes the necessity for doing much more together than our semi detached cousins.Any way street parties are fun. Even in the rain which didn’t stop us singing.