It was a Friday night 1977, maybe June or July, I had an invite to a party in Sutton Coldfield, for a girl called Delney, who worked in the office at work. I was with my mate, the drummer, drinking at the George IV pub. Our usual Friday Fayre, drinking beer and him drumming the metal tables with the pair of drumsticks he carried everywhere. I smoked my cigarettes, sang along to the jukebox, and dreamed of fame and fortune. I told the drummer that we had a party to go to, and he was happy as a pig in shit.
Problem with drinking in the backwaters of Lichfield, there were very few women on show. Would-be Rock stars need an audience and we, as half of a band, recently disbanded, found the lack of an audience, dispiriting. We had sat there in the pub for months, licking our wounds, whilst the two guitarists moved on to pastures new… Namely Cannock, and long-haired heavy metal stardom awaited them. Good riddance! We, the drummer and me, would not stoop so low! We were punks. Two things stopped our mega rise to stardom, the fact that my singing was fucking awful, and secondly, the drummer’s drums had been repossessed by the Hire Purchase company. A singer without a voice and a drummer without drums, were not in high demand… with anyone!
At 8 o’clock, having drunk a half gallon of Ansell’s Bitter, we made the momentous decision to head off to the party. We stopped at the off-Licence on the way to the railway station, and spent a small fortune on a bottle of Vodka and a Watney’s Red Barrel party seven.
(This was the ubiquitous carry out of the seventies, a barrel that contained 7 pints of beer.)
When bringing a bottle to a party, it was important to bring a cheap option, which could be jettisoned into the kitchen for the general party-goers,whilst your good stuff you kept to you to yourself.(A less scrupulous party-goer would buy a cheap bottle and swap it for a better one, I have just been informed, this however, would not enter my mind) So we sat fully prepared for a big night out, on the cross-city train, full of the whats and wherefore’s we would enjoy at this select soiree.
The train trundled sedately into the train station at Sutton Coldfield, and with the quick and sure footed gait of youth, walked the mile to the allotted site. The house was dark and quiet, when we rang the bell. Delney and Pete, a work mate, came blearily to the door.
“Ok, mate, the party’s here!” I shouted excitedly.
“What?” He said.
“The party…” I blinked at his dumb look.
“Sorry mate. the party is next week, not today.”
I looked at the drummer, he looked at me. We both looked at the booze we carried.
“Don’t suppose you’ve got an opener for this?” I pointed at the party seven of Double Diamond.
Pete looked at the little barrel, and went inside. He came back with a posi-drive screw driver.
“Try this.” The drummer set the barrel on the floor. He took the proffered screw driver, and gouged out to make-do openings in the barrel. It frothed dangerously, and deposited a lion- share of its contents on the tarmac. He passed the screw driver back to Pete, like a doctor passing a scalpel back to the nurse.
“No problem.” Pete shut the door.
“We better get this drunk. Can’t exactly walk along the street with it open.”
I shrugged. What a wash-out. We found a wall to sit on and took turns swigging beer from the ridiculous barrel. Having worked our way solidly through the contents, most of which ended up on our fronts, we trudged wearily back to the station… Another wasted Friday night!
During the hour long slow sojourn back to the station, having dispatched the Watney’s Red Barrel into the nearest hedge, we took turns in sipping, then slugging, the bottle of Vodka. So that when we actually arrived back at the Train Station we were both happily steaming.(DRUNK)
The station was empty. There was but one train left to arrive at the desolate platform, the 11.30 from New St. Birmingham. Of course, the curse of drink on young men is legend, better men than I have been brought down by its perils. Having clambered on top of the bus shelter type plastic contraption on the platform, the drummer was beating away happy little timpani riffs on the edges of plastic and aluminium and I was down on the tracks lying prostate like a girl from the silent era, shouting Heeelllp, Heeeellp! The drummer shouted loudly at my prostate form, that someone was coming! I jumped up, more afraid of someone seeing me acting stupid, than I was of the threat of a train dissecting me. A middle-aged blonde lady, clip-clopped her high-heeled way down the slope from the station. By the time she arrived I was sat demurely in the bus shelter, as if butter wouldn’t melt! She smiled wanly as she passed and I realised I knew her…
She was the daughter of Meg Richardson. Not literally of course, I don’t think Noele Gordon actually had a daughter… But she was the screen daughter of the TV character Meg Richardson, both characters from the now defunct soap opera, CROSSROADS. Thankfully, I had not made an arse of myself. However, as the drummer still remained drumming on the top of the shelter, the same could not be said for him. When he saw who it was, he silently slid down off the roof and sheepishly sat down beside me.
As we left the train station, we looked at each other and laughed.
“Well that was a waste of fucking time wasn’t it?” The drummer said.
“A bit of the washout, but just think… We’ve got a party to go to next week!”
This is a true account, a party that never was. Find out what happened at the actual party in the next instalment.