from Jane Jackson.
Yesterday was my Dad's 94th birthday. Rain coming down in stair-rods meant the planned patio party had to be moved into his sitting room. But with twenty people invited there wouldn't have been room for them all to stand, let alone sit down. As it was we had to move the dining table out. A quick phone call to half the guests asking them to come an hour later solved the problem and the party was held in shifts. It was a roaring success. Food and wine disappeared like snow in sunshine. The noise-level would have out-decibeled a jumbo jet, as all these elderly, hard-of-hearing people yelled to make themselves heard above the others yelling for the same reason. Then there was the lady with the screaming - and I'm not exaggerating - laugh. Had the glasses been crystal they would have shattered. I learned about local family histories going back to the mid 1800s, village life when meat and milk were delivered by horse and cart, about the local lads waiting on the bridge to throw into the river any boys from neighbouring villages who had the temerity to come courting local girls, the gossip at the village pump before the water was condemned as unfit for human consumption causing an outcry and bitter complaints that the new mains water coming from a tap beside the pump didn't have the same taste. Well, it wouldn't be, lacking as it did the tang of horse dung and tarmac. Some of the guests weren't speaking to others for reasons lost in the mists of time. So there were small factions darting veiled looks with whispered asides. When - four hours later - the hardiest finally left, my head was ringing. There wasn't a crumb left and the collection of empty wine bottles will raise a few eyebrows when the recycling lorry comes round. Dad declared himself well satisfied and is already planning his 95th. For stamina and social history you can't beat a party for the over-eighties. They are awesome.