Apart from celebrating our niece’s nuptials and spending quality time with our folks, the main purpose of our extended excursion to Blighty and beyond was to rejoice in the half centuries of my two oldest friends, Clive and Ian. Their birthdays are a day apart and they decided to revel in style, each with a two centre commemoration.

Clive’s was up first with a posh meal in a posh eatery in posh Islington attended by a select group of friends and family, including his consort and civil partner, Angus. The superior banter was lubricated with bountiful booze and nourished by top notch nosh. Clive’s second soiree was at Duckie, the legendary avant-garde club night for those seeking something a little bit different from the usual Saturday night set menu (hard house and South American waiters with chest implants and spaced out expressions).

Coincidentally, it was Duckie’s 16th birthday bash, so they too celebrated in style by hiring the ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall for the evening. The compere dished up a hit and miss medley of arty-farty cabaret which I must confess was more miss than hit, a bit like watching someone’s end of year drama college project. The evening had a British tribal theme – punks, mods, new romantics, blokes in bowlers, housewives, Greenham Common wimin – you get the idea. We went as seventies clones – check shirts, tight stone washed 501s, coloured hankies and joke shop handlebar tashes – more Frisco than disco. We danced the night away to period pop courtesy of the resident DJs, the Readers Wives. I pogoed to God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols, which seemed appropriate given the venue. My cheap fake tash dropped off in the process.

As the evening drew to a close, we tottered across Hungerford Bridge to the Strand and boarded our night bus home. Of course, we sat on the top deck like a couple of tourists. The passenger list was like London life in miniature. Two young men sat canoodling at the front on the bus, nothing pornographic you understand, just a fine romance. A mixed-race straight couple sat in the seat behind in animated exploratory conversation. He’d obviously just picked her up (or vice versa). Two gangsta-looking types in chunky chains sat behind us talking not of drug deals but of share swaps. A gaggle of girls giggled at the back. The good-humoured Clapham omnibus led me down memory lane through the south London streets of my salad days. We arrived home safe, sated and sozzled.

Tomorrow – The Bow Belles

For more on Clive and Ian you might like to read:

Tales of the City

It’ll Make You Go Blind

12 thoughts on “Fifty Years in the Business

  1. What a wonderful trip to the UK. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. So many things to celebrate..you must be exhausted! I’m off to England on Saturday for just a week. No partying for me though…just babysitting..just as exhausting!

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  2. What an incredibly descriptive glimpse into a retro look back! When I read what you were wearing to the Clive/Duckie party, I was thinking Village People; then I read ‘more Frisco than disco’ and knew I was right there with you. One of the best aspects of special celebrations is that we don’t have as many as we used to (we seem to need a reason these days), and they’re far tamer. How fun!

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  3. Oh for the night bus! Wonderful captured images. I remember the London night bus back towards Roehampton, site of a long-ago love’s home (part of a “NYLON” romance – commuting between NY and London). As I recall, we had to walk a ways from, was it Putney? Anyway, thanks for bringing me down memory lane.

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