As parties go, it really was Quite An Occasion.
As Katie, eldest of our Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren and her sister, Eleanor, explained, bringing together two families
- their father's from Oop North and their mother's from Way Down South with a Generous Dollop of Wales thrown in for good measure, was no mean feat. Add in longtime friends and a good number of teenagers set on helping Katie celebrate her Coming of Age in
style, and the guests numbered just two short of a hundred.
The party planning had been meticulous in every detail with nothing left to chance. The Party Girls - all three of them - had new dresses for the
occasion and each one of them looked Absolutely Beautiful. The rest of us brushed up pretty well too, all things considered.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters texted me to announce her arrival - she had
parked, she advised me, next to the Captain's parking space. As I didn't even know the Captain ( whoever he or she may be) had a parking space, let alone where it might be, this information was not as helpful as one might have thought it. Nevertheless, off
I trotted, carefully negotiating the steps of the golf club on my high heels, to help in the Unloading of Small People from the car.
Young Faris was pleased to see me and happy to take my hand but refused,
point blank, to enter the golf club with me. As his mother was engaged in changing The Twinkles' nappies in the back of the car, my falling at the first hurdle meant that my bid to take charge of the Rampaging Rascal for her was not exactly Going to Plan.
The Welsh Contingent arrived at much the same time so there were plenty of hugs from my Three Little Welsh Boys. They were pleased to see me but a little disappointed that their cousin Jack, their All-Time Hero, had
yet to arrive. Even at my very best, I am a poor substitute for Jack.
There was face painting for the littl'uns and a children's quiz - with prizes. This involved tackling a number of questions which could
only be answered by asking various other guests. For example: what were the names of the girls who live next door to Katie and Eleanor? What was the surname of Uncle Mike's sister? That was the easy bit. Next you had to take the letters in each answer which
were in red boxes and rearrange them to discover the final solution. Young James came to give me a hug and to ask for help. My advice must have been pretty good because the next time I saw him, he was waving a bag of sweets at me in a kind of Victory Salute.
I believe every entrant was similarly rewarded. No, he didn't share the spoils of victory with me but I wasn't complaining.
In the corner next to the face painting, a big screen was set up for the Wii Dance
Competition. There were categories for the under 12s, the under 21s, and the over 21s. I put my name down for the latter category, having secreted a pair of flat black shoes in my bag. I bet nobody else was so very well prepared. In the event, I missed my
turn being otherwise engaged when my number was announced. You would have thought, would you not, that given the undoubted Potential Entertainment Value, it would have been worth seeking me out or even making a special announcement over the Tannoy system but
as the Eldest of the Darling Daughters reminded me, the rules of the game did not allow for this. It was left to my brother-in-law, Bouncing Baz, to keep spectators in hysterics. He was convinced that he had been cheated out of a well-deserved win but this
honour went to his older son so at least he kept it in the family.
There was food, and drink, and dancing - all the ingredients of a great party. I set myself the target of speaking to as many of the
98 guests as I could manage over the course of the evening. It was a bit like one of those I Spy books, beloved of my childhood: "I Spy Party Guests". I kind of lost count after a bit, but I reckon my final tally was around 68. Big Chief I Spy would have been
proud of me.
We somehow managed to gather together all our Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren for a photograph with their Grandad (aka Mr B) and me. This, believe me, is like herding cats but somehow we did
it. In the resultant photo, each of the older grand-daughters is looking after a baby, while Jack has all three of the Little Welsh Boys more or less under control. It is a precious, precious picture.
photographs, on another big screen in a corner of the room, a rolling pictorial presentation of the Life and Times of the Swift Family. Here are the wedding photos of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and her fella on their wedding day, twenty-five years
ago this year. Don't we all look young? Wasn't the bride so very beautiful? It was, as I remember, one of the Very Happiest Days of My Life. Here is Katie, pictured from birth to adulthood, accompanied in many a photo by her "One and Only Sister" Eleanor.
So many memories of so many special days over twenty-five happy years.
Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary, dear Anne and Mike. Happy Eighteenth Birthday, my Sweet Katie. I was so very glad to help you celebrate.
Even if I missed my turn on the dance mat...