Imagine if you can the towering, svelte, red-head, a gawky teenager. Trifle, (spell check grr), no Tricel, taking precedence over luxurious satin, that once charged with static clings with better aspiration than an amorous dog. The hem of the gown (?) shin deep in fluffy black marabou feathers, the static didn’t become the feathers as they became frenzied, berserk and deranged in their own right. The intrepid faux satin clung with electrified gravitas which, in due deference, set ones hair and teeth on edge. No need for thick hair lacquer or back-combing that night. Pure “Saturday night fever” class…. eh?
Platform shoes were usually best avoided, except in that instance. One was tall. Ones ‘Barnet’ very long and the huge red tresses were statically freaked in a ” Marie Antoinette” half-up do, one resembled a nylon pylon. Comparably sported en mass at what was known as Dads “Christmas works do”. A Dinner and Dance.
Books upon books of raffle tickets were sold, donations for prizes came in thick and fast since as all proceeds were in aid of our local Children’s Home. Statuesque, at the end of the table, my hair and frock took on a life of their own. Swaying and wafting independently, not unlike a coral reef. Granny and I laughed about it and snuggled up as we folded the umpteen ‘cloakroom’ style counterparts of the raffle tickets. It was a tad difficult in long black satin gloves but I wouldn’t be beaten. Consider my chosen look a little Breakfast at Tiffany with a hint of unintentional Rocky Horror macabre.
Once our task was complete our ‘Compare’ for the evening started the draw, he went around the audience, each lucky winner to pick the next ticket. The extensive raffle had to be split into two parts as there were so many prizes. Euphoria filled the room as the winners collected their boxes of Milk Tray chocolates and so forth, I’ll never forget the delight on one winners face as she collected her plastic holly and floral display (a table centrepiece/masterpiece with slightly drooping candles). She was so thrilled. Then a wordy interlude following the next highlight of the evening. The prospect of couple of ‘upbeat numbers’ featuring soloists in the band. “Tie a yellow ribbon” gifting all a golden opportunity to recharge empty glasses at the bar. Through the fog of fag smoke, dancing, laughter, joy and good cheer filled the room. Off at a pace, and with gasps of delight, it was time for Eviva España. One particular lady, attempted a land speed record whilst dashing across the floor to grab her castanets from a purpose made, hand crocheted, draw string dolly bag, as one would?
Tall and skinny here, with her veritable riot, neigh shock of red hair, was ushered into a rowing boat (yes, a rowing boat, something to do with a Pantomime) in the foyer to be shot, photographically. This was for the front page of the local newspaper. It was all frightfully 1970’s. Composure restored by all from their castenetting and mattadorial antics, it was back again for the second tranche of the raffle.
A bottle of Neirsteiner and then a five Pound voucher to spend on any thing you like from Woolworths cast envious looks and coos of delight! Next up, some melamine coasters and placemats, (beige and brown rose design), a yard long box of After Eights mints, the tension mounted for the pièce de résistance. … there was complete hush.
And… Tonight’s star prize! … From Ted Dickens farm! he caterwauled into the microphone. His prize-winning, 30lb stud Turkey! Affectionately called ‘In a hurry Murray’! The drummer made a terrific drum roll, and then crashed his symbols. The Compare announced: “Pink ticket number” ….. You could have heard a pin drop. Ta Dah, played the brass section of the band. My utterly adorable Gran, still sitting next to me squeaked “Oh no, it’s me!” Complete and utter uproar, applause and cheers from all in the room. The works director bellowed “Blimey, the bird I’ll be bigger than you my dear?” gifting more hysterics for the crowd. Granny was much-loved by every one in the room, I should add.
A little nod and nudge and you-know-who was despatched to collect the big fella as he was also affectionately called. So, in front of a two or three hundred locals, I glide, neigh … sachet like an indolent Coral Reef towards the stage. At last, a use for the book balancing deportment tosh from school. Like a magicians assistant I led the applause to both Ted for his generous donation and darling Granny whose majestic smile and skittish girlie curtsey drew the crowd further . Neville the drummer gave another spectacular drum roll and with that Ted reappeared from behind the massive gold fringed, claret velvet curtain with Murray.
I should now point out that its likely Murray was a love child of a Pteranodon/Velociraptor, from the degenerative side of their respective families. Stripped, naked of his feathery jacket and trousers, plucked, stubbly pink and naked from his neck to hips. Wearing a courtesan style, white paper ruff. That is …. except for a Father Christmas waistcoat and a pair of Micky mouse slippers tied over his clawed feet. Murray, it seemed died ‘at work’ and to add further to his demise, and subsequent humiliation, he was now dressed in F.C. drag. The expression on Murray’s face was priceless. The ruddy-faced, rosy-cheeked Ted utterly joyous by his rouse. Personally, I couldn’t see for tears of laughter and the whole ensemble erupted like a volcano.
Daggering looks from Mother, I cold read as ‘decorum essential young lady’. Absolutely no chance! My Fathers laughter louder than the rest of the rabble, I muster some resolve-of-self and tempt, and subsequently succeed, to have the Last Waltz with Murray, (yes it, could have been a Turkey Trot but in those slippers Dharling?) The formidable guys in the band started to play ” a pretty girl is like a melody” which was near enough. Strictly-come-hindsight is such a wonderful thing, particularly as I was wearing more feathers than dear old Murray?
It’s fair to say all, all eyes were on me, which included one of the cross-eyed Stud formally answering to name of Murray. The static in my frock was like a magnet to his nylon slippers as we gently swirled our 1-2-3, 1-2-3 way toward my enraptured Granny. Never one to miss an opportunity the news paper photographer, camera ready for my trip, had stayed for a sharpener or 12. Well, I didn’t slip! If you pre-anticipated, well sad, bad you! Frankly, it would have been far sweeter than finding myself on the front page of the local rag the following Friday morning with a 30lb carnival-clad mutant sat on my hip. The head line read something akin to Stud Turkey dies of heart attack above the picture of he and me, distinctly clad, yet cheerily in the style of Santa Fred and Ginger. The prose was succinct:- ‘In a hurry Murray’ would swiftly ‘covet’ his lady hen menagerie as part of his duties and died on the job. I can’t do the wryly written piece justice but it was spectacularly amusing albeit at our expense.
Murray was sent off to that great works canteen in the sky, duly slathered in butter, roasted and subsequently shared between all the staff of the family business, at Grannies request. She also bought, and further introduced me to, the incredible wonders of anti-static underwear! Retained since then and worn to this day.
Lastly, my camera has a dose of the “Paddington’s” and is about to be shipped off to the vet! Someone, whilst improving her, positively perfect, combination of marmalade, booze and ice cream to serve with several unctuous delights, (including the orange caramel Tarte Tatin shown above) unintentionally plastered the shutter release button, of said camera, with the veritable combination and it has all but ceased. Hence we are low on food photographs, though not sentiment.
This years puddings, pies and ice creams were made and scoffed. iPad aide memoire pix were taken and recipes are in a state of preparedness for the festivities next year.
Below the juice of fresh clementines, satsumas and some fresh red currants were frozen into ice-cube balls, once tipped into a glass each had a little shot of Chambord Raspberry liqueur and topped with fizz so as the Tea Boy and I could raise a glass and wish you a Very Happy New Year.
I trust you had a Cool Yule and thank you unreservedly for the pleasure of your company to date and look forward to the future.
All that remains is my toast to you, and yours, in which I say “Thank you, I wish for your good health, wealth and happiness during 2015”
Happy New Year and cheers m’dears x