26th August 1961


Dear Diary,

A glorious day that went on into the early hours!

It started for me at 9am, early for a Saturday.  I had a hair appointment at 9.30.  Lena was asleep when I left and still asleep when I returned at 11, feeling very glamorous.

Alan came at 3 o’clock.  That is, he was expected at 3 and my plan was to wash and change at 2.30.  Jennifer came back from the shops just before then with the news that he was coming down the street.  Boy, did I move!  I left the pile of records I had been sorting into ‘quick, slow and medium’ and flew upstairs and quickly donned slacks and blouse.


Lena, Alan & Maureen
August 1961

Alan had brought a bottle of Keo and a bottle of whisky with him.  It was intended for the party tonight but Auntie Rose and Terry were here and she had to try the Keo.  It is very potent stuff, 85% proof, and tastes of aniseed.  You can really feel it going down and burning your throat in the process.

After arranging things for the evening Alan left.  Then Mum, Lena and I got down to making sandwiches.  We made 5 plates full in all, of cheese & tomato, salmon and bacon.  We also had 2 plates of cakes and of cheese and biscuits, plus dishes of gherkins and pickled onions.

party food 4 (2)

Later Alan arrived with Ron 15 mins after they were expected.  They had got lost!  They departed 2 seconds later to get the drinks.  We had all been ready for ages and were just sitting around.  When they arrived back things really got moving.  I felt an idiot marching backwards and forwards from Ron’s van with Ron and Alan holding armfuls of bottles.

party bottles 1

Ron went off to collect his fiancée from Walthamstow and Alan came in and proceeded to wreck the joint!

He wanted atmosphere and atmosphere he made.  Mum and Dad just let him get on with it, which surprised me.  He took the bulb out of the front room and inserted a 15w bulb in its place.  Then, taking two bulbs out of the chandelier in the back room he covered the remaining one with red paper.  We couldn’t see a darn thing!

Then he made The Blake Cocktail.  The idea of this was to get people into a party mood in the shortest time possible.  We dug out a big glass fruit bowl into which he poured: whisky, gin and Keo, adding orange, lemon and lime squashes for colouring.  As a decoy, he mixed me a similar drink, only omitting the spirits.  He said, if people thought I was drinking it they wouldn’t refuse.

Andrew and Mike Crooks were the first to arrive and the noise those two made livened things up pretty quickly.  Various intervals saw the arrival of Dot and Denny – Dot with a plea for nail varnish removers – Lesley and Margaret, Carol, Clive and Jane and Ron and Brenda.  Then, finally, Alan’s friend Harry.

According to everyone else the party went off pretty well.  In my opinion there wasn’t enough noise and it wasn’t as mad as I would have liked.  Still, as Alan said, those who wanted to dance were dancing and those who wanted to sit down, sat down.  Lena enjoyed it.  I spent most of my time dragging her out of the kitchen where she was trying every drink there was.

I hadn’t wanted to play my record ‘It’s been a long, long time’ as I thought it would be rather silly, too appropriate.  But it was one of the favourites.  Perfect for a quiet smooch!

At one point of the evening I spent a while outside talking to Clive Flynn.  I’ve never particularly liked him but changed my opinion this evening.  Our conversation was mainly about Michael, which was natural.  Maybe we shouldn’t have discussed him but I think we were quite fair about it.  In Clive’s opinion Michael and I weren’t suited at all.  He admitted he didn’t know me very well and was judging from what he had seen and gathered.  He can’t understand his brother’s attitude to life and mostly his irresponsibility.

He agreed with me that Michael would mature in another couple of years and probably change.  He said I couldn’t be expected to hang around that long in the hope of something better.  Clive said that Alan seemed a nice chap and much more my type than his brother.  This pleased me a lot.

We had two mild incidents during the evening.  The first when Clive asked to be introduced to my parents.  I had made a point of referring to him as ‘Carol’s boyfriend’ but Mum, on meeting him said, “Oh, this is Michael’s brother!” I turned to see Alan standing there with a black look on this face.  Clive tried to ease the situation and said, “Oh, this is a game, being labelled before you walk into a place.”

The second uncomfortable moment was when Ron and Brenda (they marry in October) had a row and she walked out.  He went straight after her and half hour later they rejoined the party.

            She was mad because he had left her sitting by herself while he was talking in the kitchen.  I was on her side, though I didn’t say so.

Dad amused me early in the evening when he came out of the front room to see what was happening.  He stood in the doorway to let Alan pass, then Ron, who is as tall as Alan.  Then Mike Crooks who must also reach the 6’3” mark.  I could see Dad’s eyes raised, looking at their height.  He said, “I think I had better get back in my corner” and left.

            For the first time ever those three boys gave me the feeling of being small and petite.  Imagine, Me!, standing in the middle of a crowd and looking up at everyone!  All the boys there must have been over 6’.  Quite a gathering of giants.

At 2.30 the party ended – after a struggle.  Harry was talking to Dad while he was waiting to drive Alan home.  Alan wouldn’t go home until the others had left.  The others being Andrew and Mike.  Andrew was half asleep waiting to drive Mike home and Mike was entertaining Lena and didn’t seem inclined to move.  So everyone was waiting for him but he didn’t seem aware of it.  I don’t think he could have been aware of much after drinking half a bottle of rum by himself.  We finally threw them all out and cleaned up and went to bed.

            I was dead tired but Lena was as happy as anything.  She was surprised that I wanted to go to bed.  She said I ought to have been used to late nights after last week.  I didn’t have the energy to remind her that she had had three days in hospital to recover from last week.  I hadn’t!

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