On Saturday we threw a party to warm our house. This was the first party Clara and I had ever thrown. It was a year since we moved in but back then we didn’t have the money for a party, and we knew few locals.
Twelve months later we squeezed in 60 people. They came from our village (population 68) and new friends made at the school gate or old friends who like us have recently moved into the valley (it’s officially a Vale but I think that sounds a bit twee, and technically I think we’re in a valley – U-shaped, with Salisbury Plain on one side and Pewsey Down on the other).
It felt good to be throwing open the doors of our cottage, and in a small way defying the talk about armageddon retailed by our ghoulish and well-padded media. A (narrow) type of metropolitan journalist and commentator can give the impression that the recession stimulates them because it is ‘fascinating’ and ‘game changing’ – and also because the floodwaters have risen no higher than their knees, and ‘bad news sells newspapers’. For the rest of us, swimming now out on the flood, this recession means lost stuff: time, opportunity, peace of mind, money, jobs. It’s boring and frightening but it won’t finish us off and there have been much worse times than this.
We spent the day of the party getting ready. I bought 36 pints of beer from our nearest brewery, and we crammed as many bottles of cava as we could into the fridge, and put the rest to chill outside. During the afternoon we made punch from 8 litres of cheap cider and a bottle of dark rum, plates of sandwiches and canapés, two pâtés (chicken liver and mackerel) and we cooked 240 cocktail sausages. The boys were put in charge of handing out bowls of almonds and cashews and pistachos and crisps. Our next-door-neighbour lent us his fire pit and we placed it on the terrace, we filled the log baskets and built up the fire. Clara made a play list on her ipod, I went for a run, Poppy went to bed, everyone had a bath and we were ready.
It was a blast. I spent more time than I should by the fire pit, smoking other people’s cigarettes. For fear of what tomorrow might bring I tried to stick to the cava but sometime after 11.30 my willpower evaporated and I began to drink the beer, first the Vale Ale (more-ish, clean bright notes, a hint of sweetness) and then the Autumn Daze (weightier, more bitterness and christmas cake). Fuck it, I thought, and helped to empty the punch bowl.
At 1.30 six of us were dancing around the kitchen to The Killers. One of us (C) was 39, the rest in their forties and fifties. These are good numbers. Throwing a party is fun. We’re going to have the next one in the summer.