The Street Party

1977. The Queens Silver Jubilee. 25 years as Queen of England and it was a big deal! My Mother, although Irish, was a staunch Royalist. She absolutely adored the Royal Family and in particular, Princess Anne. She loved her sense of style and often bought similar outfits.

We had a house just behind Buckingham Palace in London. A typical Georgian London home with railings in the front, taller than it was wide with a basement and a pocket sized garden and patio at the back. Those railings, usually black, were painted silver by my Mum for the jubilee – much to the consternation of our snooty neighbours! She swathed the house in bunting and proceeded to knock on every door to organise a street party to celebrate. Every street in England seemed to be having a street party. For us kids, it was just glorious! Everywhere there was excitement. Special assemblies and picnics at school. Commemorative coins and daffodil bulbs to grow. Coloring books, special tv shows, parades and fun fairs and to top it off, the knickerbocker glory of nostalgia – The Street Party. That’s how I remember it. With as much planning, anticipation and new clothes as a wedding. Some families bought grocery carts of fizzy pop for the kids. Others made sandwiches and sausage rolls. There were the quintessential cheese and onion or pineapple on stick ‘hedgehogs’* There was jelly and choc ices. Iced cakes with sprinkles, crisps and those funny little wafer ‘footballs’ filled with something that smelled vaguely cheesey but resembled putty. Oh how we loved those slightly stale-tasting, musty smelling treats!

There were games as always. Slightly changed up for the day that was in it. We had Musical Thrones, Pin the Crown on the Queen and Pass the Corgi – although the creativity had failed at that point. It really WAS just a parcel.

My Mum had one of those reel to reel cassette(?) players. I’m not sure quite what to call it but she was blasting music. Grown ups were drinking decidedly Not Pop and there was an atmosphere of sheer exhilaration. It was a wonderful day. My Mum, ever the party planner had arranged a surprise none of us knew about. She’s hired a costume and the tallest of our neighbors dressed up as Orinoco from the Wombles and he appeared just as we were all singing ‘Remember you’re a Womble’!! Oh the excitement!

Later that evening my Dad and I walked around to the front of Buckingham Palace to watch fireworks. I’ve never seen such a glorious display as we had that night. It was magnificent. A gruff old man elbowed me, and with a twinkle in his eye exclaimed “It’s as loud as the Battle of Britain!” He was wearing a rack of medals on his suit. I’ve never forgotten him. A stranger who just shared a moment of joy. 43 years ago. Nearly my whole lifetime. The whole crowd burst into ‘God Save The Queen’ and I remember wishing that feeling would never end. I got my wish really. Here I am, still feeling it today.

We took so many photos that day and only two remain. They’re very poignant as they’re also the only two photos I have of my mum. She was so animated and happy, it’s bittersweet to see her young and lively when she’s no longer with us. Losing an old woman with Alzheimer’s was hard but seeing her back when she’d chase me down the street with a plastic spider and acknowledging that loss.. it’s like being stabbed. My mum. The only person I know who would stand drinking ginger ale out of a Waterford Crystal goblet at a street party!

*a potato covered in foil with a load of cocktail sticks adored with cubes of cheese and silver skin onions or cubes of pineapple.

50 thoughts on “The Street Party

  1. Are you talking about 8 tracks? They were box shaped and had a ribbon across the top. You inserted in the machine. My mom had one that she would insert into where the cassette (this was early ’80’s) would go and we listened to a lot of Rod Stewert. I love those types of memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love Rod Stewart too. My best friend Titselina Bumsqueak and I were obsessed with Them killing of Georgie” when were were about 15. It was an old song by then but we just loved it. I like pretty much everything he’s done 😊

        Like

      2. That is reel to reel tapes, not cassettes. Cassettes are little things…smaller than a CD. Some music geeks still have reel to reel. And, not too long ago, a similar system, magnetic tapes (also on reels but, a different configuration), was used to back up computer systems.

        Did it look similar to this:

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I left everything when I left my first husband. I was running from violence. I never got any of my photos, exam certificates.. nothing at all back. My sister activated a scorched earth policy a few years ago and took all of my parents albums so it’s slim pickings. She won’t even scan them for us

      Like

      1. My dad recently emailed a picture he just found of my great grandad who was killed at the Somme and also one of my grandad at 25 with his 18 year old brother, his two sisters and his grandparents. Within 5 years all except my grandad were dead, my great uncle died at Arnhem and my great, great grandparents and my two great aunts died in the Blitz. I’ve been thinking about them so much. So much tragedy.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Considering her mother’s age, she could be kicking for a few more years. Prince Philip, on the other hand, turns 99 in a couple months, so I don’t expect it will be too many years before he reaches the other side.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes I agree although that’s still a prodigious age! The Queen is more active and hardworking than people literally half her age. She’s quite remarkable. I wish her halfwit sons were as committed (instead of needing committing!)
        The only Royals younger than the Queen that I care for are William and Kate.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve been racking my brains since you posted this. Years ago I was friends with someone I no longer talk to. She recommended something that I think might’ve been this but I can’t remember and it’s bugging the heck out of me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really think this must be it. I know it was very long and it was the something kingdom so I’m betting this is it. I would get very frustrated with all the near misses so kudos to you for sticking with it

        Liked by 1 person

    1. They were such a thing! Getting the cheese and pineapple/onion on sticks without it being a hedgehog was a huge anticlimax! Kinda like having chocolate blancmange if it wasn’t in a rabbit mold and serve on chopped up green jello!
      There were standards!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s