Tag Archives: party

the first christmas (part 2)

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – December 2021)

Imagine our delight at receiving a festive invitation from our new next door neighbours: a working class, colourful family headed up by Bert – ex-army; his earthy wife Noreen and their two children; eleven year old Denise and six year old Albert. We were in for a surprise…


PART 2: Noreen’s Christmas ‘Do’

Noreen’s Christmas Do’s – or ‘shindigs’ as Dad called them – were special. Invited that first Christmas Day to come over in the evening for a ‘bit of a knees-up and do’, Mom donned her mink stole (one of my grandmother’s cast-off’s) over her long crushed-velvet frock and her precious gold evening shoes. “This is just what we need.”   Mom enthused. “At last!  – an evening of social enhancement – perhaps leading to other invitations of the season.” She was stuck in a Southern Belle time warp.

(Andrea’s Mom in the late 1960s.)

Dad didn’t think that deeply about it; he was just glad to finally have a good time after months of hardship. He spruced up his sideburns, dusted down his big lapels and splashed on the Old Spice

(Andrea’s Dad in the ’70s.)

Mom insisted that my brothers wear their school blazers (“Don’t you boys look smart!”) and a hastily home-made Viyella dress for me with a ruffle that made my neck itch.  As we stepped out of the vestibule into the cold smog, Mom’s hopes ran high.

Bert greeted us at the door in his trademark high waisted trousers with braces and white collarless shirt with his sleeves pushed back in a pair of copper garters. Taking my mother in his arms, he Fox-Trotted her the length of the hall into the through-lounge with ram-rod back and tight grip on her waist: “Oh my Bert; you’re so light on your feet! I declare!” She was surprised at Bert’s svelte moves as he deftly dodged the phone table.

 David and Dale found a corner where they sat all evening with long faces; wedged between the flashing, coloured lights of the mirrored, padded ‘bar’, several drooping low-slung paper chains and the bay window; which had been sprayed with fake snow to look “proper old”. 

An artificial tree blazed forth from the opposite corner; its multi-function lights performing dazzling, fit-inducing strobing. Nobody bothered about possible epilepsy in the ’70s. The boys never took their blazers off; remaining static for most of the evening as David drummed his fingers impatiently on the window sill. 

Dad loved a party and threw himself into this one. With more than his usual dash of Southern Charm, he regaled our hosts with stories of the Old South, drank pints from the Watney’s Party Seven barrel and smoked his pipe.

Noreen smoked her “posh”  Sobrani cigarettes with their gold tips, knocked back snowballs crammed with cocktail cherries and laughed loudly as she cranked the music up. She was the life and soul!  Mrs. Mills banged out  ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ and  ‘Little Brown Jug‘ on the stereo as Noreen twirled Dad around the room; hoicking up her skirt and clacking the plate in her mouth with glee as she sang along.

David’s mouth dropped open as he looked on: his old man was cavorting with that old broad? At the other end of the lounge sat Denise’s Nan, swigging port and lemon like pop. 

“Come on Bab –  just fetch us another one,” she rasped as she stretched out her bony, arthritic hand from under her pink crocheted cardigan. 

Meanwhile Mom – flushed from her Fox-Trot – was now seated at the bar with a giddy schoolgirl blush as Bert poured her a Babycham. It wasn’t exactly what she had expected but  needs must when the devil drives.

Amongst the swirl of excitement and gaudiness, no-one noticed that Noreen had slipped away for a few minutes. She had waited until everyone was tanked-up before her presenting her Party Piece. The door to the through-lounge was suddenly thrown back on cue by Denise, as her mother appeared at the top of the stairs; one leg cocked over the bannister. 

We all gaped wide-eyed to see Noreen in a red feather boa barely draped around her upper back fat; her hefty bosom held aloft by a white corset with stretch panels. She grinned broadly to reveal her gums in all their toothless glory. Noreen’s piece-de-resistance: the mighty Union Jack drawers which she wore over her sturdy corset. 

Mrs Mills gave way to The Stripper as Noreen began to gyrate; shimmying in her feathers while trying to keep her leg hooked over the rail as the music belted out the raunchy, jazz-influenced, suggestive trombone slides: Da da daa, da da d a daa. Her leg slipped and she slid down the bannister, shaking what she’d got (and she’d got a lot).  Da da da daa…

“Ooh er!”

With an almighty heave she swung her leg over the rail, shouting “Merry Christmas Bab!” as she landed bottom-up on the shag pile door mat. 

“Dadgummit!” exclaimed Dad. “What a hell-of-a-shindig!” 

Picture, if you can, the scene in the through-lounge at this point: Mom, slightly tipsy on her second Babycham, tried to conceal Dale’s eyes from the stripper in the hallway by holding her mink stole outstretched. Dad, eyes on stalks and tight as a drum, had sweat dripping from his sideburns as the heat from the two bars on the gas fire and his high blood pressure took a hold.

He swayed forth to try and help Noreen to her feet (ever the Southern Gent) but missed and grabbed the edge of the running buffet table, pulling the doilies and pyramid of sausage rolls to the ground.


Nan still had her hand out for a Port and Lemon; while Bert, to his credit, glided over to his ribald wife and took her hand to help her up from the floor, where she lay snorting and laughing.

David couldn’t conceal his disdain and embarrassment at the whole sordid affair and tapped his foot violently on his chair rung like Thumper. His contempt for our hostess, the tacky decorations and lusty shenanigans was thinly disguised. He sat, arms crossed tightly over his chest, open-mouthed, rolling his eyes skyward: some people. Dale just wanted to try a Port and Lemon. Young Albert threw up from too many sausage rolls and chocolates from the tree.

“Don’t yow show me up,” nudged his mum, “and mind them bits of of sick on me carpet or I’ll give yow somethink to cry about!”

 As for me, I had never witnessed such glorious, glamorous Artistry in all my life and decided at that moment to go on the stage.

Albert retreated to his bedroom where he spent the rest of the evening minding his bits.


teenage mating rituals in the ’70s.

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – February 2021)

I’m not sure how younger people hook-up now but in the days before swiping left or right or Instagram profiles or tic-tac or WhatsApp or whatever the latest platform is, there was no alternative but face-to-face contact. (I’m discounting love letters here because the writing, spelling and grammar of most 70s schoolboys was not particularly good).

To get things in perspective though, this face-to-face caper was normally between your best mate/trusted messenger’s plooky kisser and your intended belle’s angelic coupon – with your pal uttering the immortal words “my mate fancies you” or if they were feeling particularly articulate – “hey, will you go out with my pal”.

This wasn’t one-way traffic of course, but as normal, girls were always a lot smarter & cuter. They’d build up a valuable database of information first and then devise a plan before any approaches were made:

“are you going to the party/disco?”

“is there anyone you fancy at the moment?”

“do you like girls with feather cuts”

“do you think Senga’s nice?”

… lots of insightful, savvy questions building up knowledge and acumen so that they could make smart, informed decisions.

In fact, leading barristers would do well to study this craftmanship.

As boys we were a monosyllabic bunch back then, particularly when taken out of our natural habitat, with grunts regularly replacing diction.

I often think that ‘the art of conversation & small talk’ would have been a better subject for many of us as opposed to Algebra and the like, and as Billy Connolly said, “why should I learn Algebra, I’m never going to go there!”

In hindsight I’ve realised that although I went to a co-ed school and would regularly exchange pleasantries, I never really spoke to girls there.

We’d play football at breaks and the girls would do their thing. We’d sit together as boys on the school bus and so would the girls, and the rest of the time we were in class, just trying to keep up with them.

The bizarre thing is – that at some point we started to go to local discos and parties to basically try and engage with the same people we were in effect ignoring every day.

Even at discos we’d stay in our little groups though. The girls socialising and dancing, the guys being fascinated for the umpteenth time by the ultra-violet lights making everything look whiter (apart from our teeth), trying to look cool whilst shouting to be heard over Silver Machine by Hawkwind.

Every now and then though a strange occurrence took place, and us boys would actually make an effort to dance and interact.

Well, I call it dancing and interacting, it was actually a strange ritual that consisted of tapping a girl on the shoulder, awkwardly wriggling about in front of her for 3 minutes, whilst trying to avoid stamping on her handbag, and then walking away, without a word being uttered.

I’m not even sure how this counts as human interaction, but it sort of did, back then.

There was always a critical point of the evening though, when decisions had to be made. At parties it was normally 15 minutes before you were due to get chucked out and someone would conveniently switch the lights off so lips could meet, and at discos, it was the slow dances at the end of the evening.

The Moonie.

The slow dances or moonies as we called them were a ritual in themselves and the best DJ’s would usually play three of them which gave everyone three opportunities to get a lumber (Glasgow colloquialism for a ‘partner for the evening’).

One moonie just wasn’t enough, there was too much pressure and besides it took some lads one, even two moonies to strike up the courage to ask a girl for a slow dance.

Also, someone might have zipped in ahead of you to get to your intended partner first, but if you knew there were still two moonies to come, you could bide your time to see how that all panned out.

This was a complex and sophisticated procedure crammed into 12 action-packed minutes, but it was usually the most important 12 minutes of the evening.

It was a strange procession indeed…

Guys who had been playing Joe Cool all night were suddenly flustered and flapping around.

Discerning music lovers who would only shake their tail feathers to certain ‘cool’ songs, or selected, favourite artists, were now happily swooning to David Cassidy’s latest schmaltzy ballad.

If you could take a snapshot, you would see all sorts of weird and wonderful images, everything from – snogging couples conjoined by the lips, in the early throes of passion to girls ducking and weaving like Mike Tyson in order to avoid the slobbery advances of the guy with WHT (wandering hand trouble) who up until that point had been ignoring them all night.

Severe case of WHT

Mostly what you’d see however is a lot of young people wanting to fit in and be accepted. The majority wearing the same clothes, sporting the same haircuts, doing the same dance moves, and going along with the crowd, as that was always the safest thing to do.

Getting a lumber at the end of the evening wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but it sure felt like it at the time. A badge of honour or a box ticked.

After the event you’d invariably walk home with your buddies recounting the highlights of the evening, making your wee night in a church hall sound like a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Studio 54.

Looking back, it was all one big ritual; preparing and looking forward to the event, deciding what you were going to wear, the pre-disco formalities (travel, refreshments), the event itself and of course the aftermath, where the evening’s events would be the topic of conversation for the next few days.

They were good days though, lots of fun, and all part of navigating your way through those awkward teenage years.

As always, I connect memories to music so here’s a link to my 70s Moonie playlist.

You can use this to slow-dance in the kitchen with the guy/gal you lumbered 40 odd years ago at the local disco, and haven’t been able to shake off yet 😁

p.s. and yes, even I know a tic-tac is a refreshing mint!