We managed to get THAT wedding over with before other news broke, and the triumphs and fashion disasters pertaining thereunto have been dissected to death, so here’s another angle.
I attended a street party in the little cul-de-sac in which I grew up – I have known many of the neighbours all my life, but it was also a good opportunity to get to know my parents’ newer neighbours. It’s a microcosm of 1930s mock-Tudor suburbia, complete with the ubiquitous pebbledash, and has shared the highs and lows of the nation’s history – from raiding Heinkels overhead not long after they were completed to BBMF flypasts on their way out from Buckingham Palace, from the heyday of the town’s principal employer for whom the majority of the residents worked, to its decline and eventual closure, and the corresponding growth of the town as a dormitory for London; from coal to gas, from plain pebbledash to coloured render, from original wooden windows to uPVC framing, from 30 and 40somethings to elderly residents and back again over the years to 30 and 40somethings; like most 1930s streets there’s a subtle variation between the houses, from mock-Tudor with purely decorative features to much-diluted moderne. No two pairs are exactly alike. Everywhere I go, I look at 1930s houses because I have a huge affection for them, spotting suntrap windows with sunray stained glass, internal Art Deco detailing and Bakelite fingerplates which often survive where the Bakelite handles they once held have turned brittle and snapped off.
Anyway, I digress. Two hundred people came, and we all had a blast for the duration of the street closure, so much so that there’s talk of repeating it for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year, or maybe every year just because. One of those two hundred people was the aforementioned man with the Union Jack face: completely and very professionally made up, covering his eyelids and his lips, striped red, white and blue. I would have struggled in the past to lipread him, especially after he put his sunglasses on, making his face more or less unreadable, but with the CI I could understand every word, over the music, the PA, the shrieking children, the chatter and laughter, the bunting and Union Jacks flapping in the wind, the barbies sizzling: a personal brick slotting in to the walls of memory in just one little cul-de-sac, holding 73 years of individual stories, of laughter, tears, children growing up and grown-ups getting old, their personal stories marching hand-in-hand with the shared history of the nation.