Croydon marked the end of an era.
I had handed over my fifties to those that know and I entered my 60’s in style.
Well not that Croydon is Manhattan but the man who showed us where the stage door was had terrible teeth but a heart of gold.
I was 60 and 2 days old. My darling Steve, ex producer, came with a CD of music from 1949, a big grin and a rucksack full of ideas. Lozzie my makeup artist arrived, Rob the agent, Jim the husband and B the daughter all managed to get themselves safely to Sarf-East Lundun. The audience, though small, was friendly and on my side.
The old git, the daughter and various very old friends filled out the theatre as best they could.
It will be the last time I ever do anything without a huge publicity machine behind me – and I’ve said it in print so I mean it- when I am next in an 800 seater there will be 800 seats with bums on.
I must admit that one or two of those bums gave me critism that I could have well done without but that’s the nature of the beast. If you are gong to stand up and be counted don’t shoot the abbacus.
So March 24th came and went. March 26th came and went.
And Friday 27th was dealing with my ailing tooth, getting my FREEDOM PASS HURRAH FOR FREE TRAVEL, collecting boxes of gifts from the Post Office and preparing for the party of all parties.
When Saturday arrived I did what all party girls do, I bathed and scoured, primped and preened. I tottered and faffed and put on waterproof mascara just in case.
And so at 7.00 o’clock on March 28th the first of my 150 guests arrived for my 60th Birthday. It was like a cross between SHAMELESS and BRIDESHEAD REVISITED – as David Threllfull so eloquently puts it at the beginning of Shameless:
‘That Jim and Jeni certainly know how to throw a parteeeeeeeeee.’
The guest book in place, the dear waitors and waitresses en guard, the doors opened and we were off.
ERIC LANDLARD donated a cake that was so big, so fruity, so magnificent Mick, my Galway boy, had three pieces. The poor ‘oosbind didn’t get a look in.
FAY PRESTO, the magician, was so funny, so magical and so dextrous folk are still talking about her disappearing bottle.
The band was so harmonious, so slick, so cool, that even I danced.
The food was so Thai, so fine, so much, that nobody, not even B’s posse – who are all young enough to eat you out of house and home – could complain.
The drink was copious, indeed I had two bottles of champagne just on me own, at least I think I did, I was drinking at the time.
The craik was magnificent.
Friends met friends after thirty years.
School chums turned up.
Relatives turned up.
Even Anthony Worrall adorable Thompson turned up. I have a picture of me and Gino De Campo that makes me look about 27, ok I had had two bottles of bubbly, Ed Baines and Maria Elia turned up.
My darling GFL gels, Elaine and Nikki turned up, not to mention the daddy of it all Nick Thorogood.
My radio belles, Lucy Lastic and Marilyn Monhowe turned up.
My old bass player turned up.
Actors and Directors tuned up.
Shakeel my wonderful dress maker turned up his turn-ups to turn up.
Clairvoyants, mediums, homeopaths, cranial osteopaths and acupuncturists turned up.
Hypno therapists and Neuro Linguistic programmers turned up.
My first boyfriend, father of the drummer, and photographer turned up.
Neighbours and gardeners turned up.
Historians, artists, publishers and architects turned up.
My 87 year old mother, with all her faculties in tact, managed to turn up.
Jim made a brilliant speech, off the cuff, and I couldn’t have been more proud.
At one point, as the River Thames flowed outside the window, I was overwhelmed at the generosity and fun that was surrounding me. We all agreed that you are only 60 once so how could I let it pass without a nod and a wink and a big bottle of Bolly?
I’m now thinking about my 70th…
Call it ego if you will, I call it a celebration of my life so far. It still is work in progress.
We got to bed at four.
The clocks sprang forward.
After three hours sleep I leapt into the car to take one of B’s friends to Victoria, She had lost a lens and I my direction, I think we were both still tiddly.
I eventually found my way to Paul Gaylors MEAT AND GRILL on Parkgate Road and bought the biggest, best sausages, hand carved bacon, fresh bread, tomatoes, mushrooms and two fresh, sticky Danish Pastries. I arrived back at the flat ready for the post-party breakfast.
B and the remaining friends picked themselves off the floor, focussed and crawled out of their sleeping bags, duvets and armchairs. Annie came out of the spare room, Jim slithered out of our bed and so began the three hour feast and the opening of the presents.
Hayes, B’s best friend, took note of all the names and pressies so that I can write thank you letters, in between bites of best banger and perfectly brewed coffee the unwrapping ceremony began.
I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful my friends are. Paintings, self penned water colours, poems, jewels, books, pens, perfume not to mention a silver Marmite lid and knife in a celebratory silver flight case.
I have no more room in the flat. Cards, are everywhere, ceramic bowls, wooden cheese boards, I even have a CD with a song that the daughter wrote for me. Zoe, the middle daughter, who organised the DO with Jim so beautifully still found time to make me a card so big that the flats across the river in Chelsea Harbour can read it.
She also bought me a bottle of Joseph perfume which is the scent I used to put round B’s pillow when she was tiny. One whiff and I was back 22 years.
My nearasdamnit son turned up with hugs and then it was off to East Sussex to prepare for Rome.
But that will be tomorrows instalment.
night night till then