Well, I’ve finally packed away my Chilprufe vests and wincyette pajamas and turned off the electric blanket. The smell of wisteria is on the breeze, swallows are swooping and it hasn’t rained for at least 15 minutes. It is now officially June, or so I am reliably informed by the family calendar, and summer is upon us. The shops are full of gorgeous flirty floaty 70s numbers and I’ve seen more flares flapping about than at a Status Quo concert. The thing is, I remember them the first and second times around and am not entirely sure I can bear them a third. Double denim is still doing the rounds, and try as I might to get behind the concept, it always reminds me of days out with family and friends, especially Uncle Gordon who liked to pair his flares with polo necks and denim waistcoats.
They were Halcyon days and such happy times. I remember endless, hot summers filled with barbecues, day trips and brilliant back-garden birthday parties for those lucky enough to be born in the warmer months.
Alas, dear readers, I was not. My birthday is at the most miserable time of the year, the third week in January; the same week that enormous credit card bills for excruciatingly expensive Christmas presents (largely unappreciated and probably re-gifted) land with an almighty thud on the mat. It is dark and cold and joyless and everyone is depressed, including the birthday girl. The thought of arranging a party is about as appealing as the leftover pâté, cheese rinds and chutney that haunt the back of the fridge after December’s festivities.
What’s a girl to do? This year, I have decided to make like Queenie and have two birthdays; yes, you heard me correctly: two birthdays. Her Royal Maj has it down pat. She has her real birthday with her family and then an “official” one in June when the weather is good, people’s wallets have recovered and everyone feels a bit more like getting dressed up and going out. I’m not sure if it is the increased levels of light and vitamin D that make us all more cheerful, or the fact that we are not shivering in umpteen layers topped off with waterproofs and gumboots, our complexions as pale as porridge. All I know is I feel better for a tan and not having to turn the lights on at four p.m., as it is too dark to see a hand in front of your face without them.
I’m delighted the Seventies are having a resurgence. I am particularly fond of rocking a kaftan and platforms. It’s a forgiving look. Any amount of birthday cake can be consumed without adjusting a waistband. I own delightful numbers in beautiful swirling Pucci prints with divine toning wedges or bejeweled sandals. In my mind I waft along like a fabulous composite of Liz Taylor in her Burton years and Princess Margaret on holiday on Mustique, topped off with a bit of Stevie Nicks. In reality I am more Beverley from Abigail’s Party, with a side order of Bet Lynch. Still, the music will be a cinch: bung a bit of Herb Alpert or Carlos Jobim on the stereogram and the bossa nova rhythm sets the scene.
The catering for a Seventies party is easy too. I am convinced that canapés had not yet been invented and I cannot for the life of me remember my mother ever serving anything more elaborate at her soirées than a cheesy pineapple nibble on a stick, a stuffed olive or two and peanuts. We all fondly remember her fondue party, not so much for the food or the candles in the Mateus Rosé bottles. but for the two crews of firemen that stayed on for a drink after they had doused the flames.
I plan a black forest gâteau birthday cake; one can’t possibly get more retro than that. But I do draw the line at the correct amount of candles. We don’t really want a repeat of the fondue fiasco, do we… or do we?
January BIRTHDAY GIRL Minxy Mann Yeager has decided to DO like the Queen and celebrate it twice - The Second Time With A Seventies Theme