I wasn’t settled enough for BBC Springwatch or Dinner Date on ITV. A few Butty Bachs in the Talbot Inn had energised me like Duracells. I needed to keep going, and a pack of San Miguel was a good place to start.
The pub music still circles round my head – Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, Bee Gees. I know every word and note. Cue for a rare dip into my vinyl collection. CDs are easier, but tonight only vinyl will do. Not just the sound, but remembering when and where I acquired these wonderful 33s and 45s. And what mattered to me at the time – in life and love.
San Miguel to hand, I sift through alphabetical LPs in the black trunk which serves as a side table. 70s/80s disco perhaps – carrying on where the pub left off. Sister Sledge – ‘Music Makes Me Feel Good’ – great track! Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing and Saturday Night Fever. And Real People by Chic, a 1980 album whose sleeve sports a young guitarist Nile Rodgers, dazzling us still on Daft Punk’s 2014 hit Get Lucky.
I swig beer and sway to the beat, wildly, like ‘Dad at the Wedding’. Tweaking the volume to 23, I recall people I shared these sounds with way back, wondering which of today’s friends might enjoy them. Julie and Dave are always singing. And Carol – she knows the words to every tune written. I could invite them round to reminisce. Eight or ten people perhaps – dinner and nostalgia! Tim and Cathy – they’re fun! Me and Tessa of course, and Michael – he’d be up for it. Oh, and the Johnsons. I make a note of the ideal ten!
Four Tops Greatest Hits is next. I open another can, party plans and San Miguel in full flow. I’ll do that crabby/prawny starter with spicy mayonnaise; they’ll love that. And a chilli con carne with veg chilli option. Basmati rice and toasted pitta. And my prize-winning Lemon and Orange Cheesecake!
Four Tops have finished ‘reaching out’, so time for 45s. My singles, skimpy paper sleeves long perished, are protected between the glossy pages of old ‘Personnel Management’ magazines. You can tell how old they are – it’s been called ‘Human Resources’ for decades. The collection has moved home about twenty times, in a battered Mackenzie Whisky box.
I discover Michael Jackson, some early Stones and Beatles, and Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe for which I nudge the volume to 27. Retro! Perfect party music! Trouble is the tracks only last a few minutes. Part of their charm, but it does tie you to the turntable. I’m lucky my 1980s music centre has a turntable; an added party novelty! Shame there’s no drop-down feature where you stack a dozen singles and they fall in turn, like my first record player – a Bush.
I fetch a new beer. As I swig and jig madly on the red rug dance area I remember Don and Jenny. Of course they must come too. And the Wilsons, and Frank and June. That’s sixteen. Perhaps a buffet would be better; food in the kitchen and dancing in the living room. A soirée. I could ask all the neighbours – that’s another fourteen. And people at choir. And the man who runs the garage opposite – he’s friendly. And people I once worked with – a sort of reunion. I slurp excitedly. And the folk at Ledbury in Bloom, and the Canal Trust in Worcester. And my friends in Sussex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Scotland and London. And my brother in Haywards Heath, and all my nephews and nieces. I could put them up. They’d love to come!
Vying with max volume 31, I shout along to Marvin Gaye’s Heard It Through The Grapevine, which like the other singles takes me back to a particular time and place – when life was perfect. Pausing only for liquid refreshment, and a frequent change of 45s, I keep adding to the list. I’m up to seventy-five, but assuming a third can’t make it that’d leave fiftyish – just right!
A last San Miguel. Batteries are running down. Finish planning tomorrow. Perhaps a spam sandwich before I crash out. I eventually hear the front door bell on repeat. The lady next door in off-white dressing gown.
‘Hello,’ I say, keen to reinforce my newfound neighbourliness.
‘Can you please turn it down?’ she says, doing a switching hand movement while mouthing the words. I bid her goodnight with reciprocal sign language and turn the music down. It’s not even ten – bit early to complain? Perhaps I’ll knock her off the list.
Next morning, after a gallon of tea, I fire up the laptop. Nearby I see a list of names. A few look familiar, most are like doctor’s writing – impossible to decipher. Who are these people?
My eye is drawn towards a browning paper note taped to the laptop lid.
“No texts, emails, Facebook or any communications late at night!”
With trepidation, I go into Outlook and check my ‘sent’ folder. Phew, nothing for two days! I slip the list into the recycling along with loads of empty cans – leftovers from a terrific party.
Paul Costello Copyright © July 2015
CLICK .COM showing at Bosbury Parish Hall, near Ledbury Friday 24th/Saturday 25th July at 7.30pm Tickets: Online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/ruraltheatreplayers In Person: Ledbury Books and Maps, 20 High Street, Ledbury