It was 2.57 pm on this sunny, Sunday afternoon (now 5 hours ago), and I was back in 1995 again. The doors of the Village Hall were humming in time to the bass. I could see the disco lights. I heard the dulcet, (or rather Dorset) tones of the DJ croon ‘I LIKE TO MOOVE IT MOOVE IT! I LIKE TO MOOVE IT MOOVE IT!’ I was eleven again, nervous about my party outfit. Except I wasn’t. I was, and am 34, at my four year old son’s friend’s birthday party. What followed was glorious carnage, and both hysterically funny and terrifying at the same time. Stepping on to the parquet dance floor I could feel my shoes crunching on the sprayed detritus and neon- encrusted foam of scattered sweeties, and then I saw a sight that made my blood run cold. There was a sweet stall. An actual, bunting-clad, radioactively pulsating melee of e numbers. My son saw it too, and grinned like a Cheshire Cat. All this happened well within 5 seconds of arriving.
The invited, (all around the age of four) were all clawing at the goodies when a shadow fell upon me. I turned round to be confronted by a sovereign-ringed middle-aged man thrashing around to Gangam style, with a frighteningly realistic dalmation headmask. It looked all bent and caved in on one side, which did nothing to calm me as he screamed ‘WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? OOOF, OOOF OOOF OOF’, whilst trying to crowbar me in to a conga line. As I madly flailed my thoughts in to a semblance of order, all I could keep repeating to my inner self was ‘thank fuck I’m not drinking any more’. My head would have burst had I been hungover. As it stood, my head felt drilled from both outside and within anyway. At this point, I looked down to see how my son was.
Oh, the poor boy. Big brown eyes dilated like Puss in Boots, he stood clutching his friend’s present. His gaze was fixed on the stage behind the ‘seizure’ of disco lights/interrogation equipment that constituted visual entertainment. ‘What’s up, chap?’, I said, as he raised a pale finger and mumbled one whispered word. ‘Heads’. Arrayed in a long bedraggled line were our hosts many alter egos. They were spread out like a line of severed heads warning enemies not to approach. I guess the Dalmation won. I looked at my watch. Incredibly, it was ONLY 3.03 pm. Shit. What in God’s name was next?
What followed was like a sloppily-mixed concoction of Phoenix Nights and the League of Gentlemen, with small people, now foaming at the mouth, careering around. You know what though? The entertainer and his deft-handed DJ wife were awesome. They seamlessly cheered up the overwhelmed birthday boy when he had a sugar crash, got all the parents involved, and could have powered the National Grid with the effort and enthusiasm that they put in. I really did feel awed by them. Their commitment (even if it was feigned). I began the party alarmed, but by the time it ended I was elated, and so was my son. Even though my ears are ringing now, they are throbbing in a good way.
Copyright Tom Tide 2017