Do you remember the teenage house parties you used to go to? From the age of about 13 or 14, the liberated parents of someone in your class or year would allow their child their first semi-adult run of the house, and a load of people of the same age, plus a few above and a few below, would turn up, with ale.
The first I recall was when I was 13 and I went to Diane Rudd's place - she's mentioned (and photographed) on the school reunion post and is no relation. It must have been her birthday, so there we were, at her bungalow in 1987, drinking beer and playing daft yet harmless teenage games in shiny clothing while Male Stripper by Man 2 Man meet Man Parrish played over and over again, because Diane liked it.
Chloe Hoskins had great parties, as she lived in a large detached house with some land around it, so she'd organise something in the summer and we'd spend most of the evening outside. Numerous 'awakenings' occurred, I would wager *cough*, in the trees and bushes within the immediate vicinity. I remember Rebecca Isherwood quietly singing When Love Breaks Down by Prefab Sprout in one corner of the garden, while in another area Matt Leach and Gina Hayton discussed Status Quo. We were all 15 or so, remember...
Of course, teenagers of every generation use these coming-of-age events to test how well or otherwise they could drink alcohol. I could take a four pack of lager, swiped with permission and a minor warning from my dad from his supply, and make it last all night. Invariably, some people - and it was almost always the girls - would try to down as much vodka as they could as quickly as possible and then spend the evening with their face pointing towards a washing-up bowl while the one wholly sober, churchgoing member of the group cleaned up after them. Getting drunk can be fun; but when it goes awry, it feels even worse when you're 15 than it does at 35. And often it was the youngest person there who turned out like this, invited at the age of 12 and yet in everyday life someone who acted 15. Yes, I know both remain minors at either age, but compare the 12 year old you to the 15 year old you and list the differences, because there'll be plenty.
These parties kept going until the age of 16 when half this group left school and went off to college or jobs. I stayed in sixth form, where organised parties at specific venues became the norm and there were people employed by the venue to do the chaperone stuff, so it never got too out of hand. I'm pleased to say that although I embarrassed myself at student parties after the age of 18, I never managed to do so too appallingly at these growing-up parties. Maybe I should have done; maybe that was the maturing that the parties were meant to inspire. I drank lager - slowly - talked to my friends, maybe danced a bit, wished I had the charisma to make Vicky Thackeray interested in me, and watched the carnage unfold.
I only hosted one myself; it was for my 15th birthday in 1988. My brother was swotting for A levels so my mum sent him to his mate's for the night, while she and my dad went out for the evening and, knowing how important an event this was, gave themselves a midnight return time. The only rule was that my 30 or so teenaged guests were barred from upstairs except for reasons of using the lavatory, and I managed to keep this rule. The only other thing I remember was being called by the girl I was seeing at the time - she was at boarding school at the other side of Hull - and being wished happy birthday, followed by being dumped.
I responded to this piece of dreadful news by drinking lager, maybe dancing a bit and wishing I had the charisma to make Vicky Thackeray interested in me...
The memories are clear and since leaving my teenage years, I can starkly assign the beginning of my adolescence to the first of these parties. I can also say I enjoyed them, which is not something one can attribute to every aspect of the period between 13 and 18.
I saw Vicky Thackeray not long back. She looks well.