Saturday, the tenth of February 2018 turned out to be a momentous date as we had decided to arrange a party as a celebration of my wife Debbie’s 60th birthday.
The day started well with Debbie having already received her free bus pass but this was capped by Owen Money reading out as his first dedication my tribute to her on his popular BBC Radio Wales show “Money For Nothing“! He played Starship‘s single “Nothing’s gonna to stop us now” which seemed very apt although it was released in 1987!
We decided to arrange a “small” fancy dress party at “Get Together” in Abergavenny despite her real birthday being the following day. Of course holding a party on a Saturday night always gives people time on Sunday to recover and get back home ready for Monday morning of the new week.
We’d decided on a 1970’s theme fancy dress party way back in May last year which at the time seemed a long way off, but after Christmas our planning activity went into overdrive. This was fortunate as the previous manager had forgotten to pass on our original booking when she left her post! Fortunately the new manager Tomos was very efficient and before too long we were back on track with venue, food & drink, cake, fancy dress and entertainments all sorted.
In the end we had approximately 45 people on the night attending, some who were staying with us at home in Llanfoist or in local hotels in the area, with some travelling back home afterwards thanks to either a designated driver, taxi or it being walkable!
Staying with family, walking, taxi or driving home
Matt Lane (DJ) & Kerry (his assistant)
“Neighbours, everybody loves good neighbours” with Andy & Helen…
We would have liked even more old & new friends and family to attend, but given our location in Wales coupled with my constrained post retirement funding position, we sadly had to cap the numbers. I’m also not sure the venue could have coped with many more people either!
We decided to ask Tomos the Get Together manager to cater for a buffet dinner on the second floor along with a pop up bar manned by our full-time steward Lewis on the first floor. Originally I put in a not inconsiderable float to cover the drinks bill for the evening, but I hadn’t reckoned on the great thirst many guests had post the Six Nations England vs. Wales rugby match earlier that afternoon!
So in the end to avoid being a party pooper I decided to boost funds at the end to settle up, but I think it was worth it, judging by Debbie’s reaction both during and after the event!
Opposite our private bar in the left hand alcove was DJ Matt Lane of AM Discos. He set up in the right hand side corner at 5pm but had to finish due to licensing restrictions at 11pm. The last song chosen by my dear wife which everybody sang to raucously at the end was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and seemed like an excellent finale!
Debbie’s birthday cake was made by a local specialty baker called Sophie Bensley. It comprised 2 round tiers of 6 and 8 inches diameter, with 4 layers of Victoria sponge on the bottom and the same of chocolate sponge on top.
It had a disco 70s theme with silver glittered ‘HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY DEBBIE’ on the base, while around the upper tier was white icing with black silhouettes of people dancing in 70s style with flares! The bottom tier had orange 70s stripes while on the top of the cake it had mini Donny Osmond vinyls sticking out of the cake along with a few stars as well…
Sophie delivered this unique cake at 5.15pm on the day of the party, along with candles and enough triangular boxes to allow people to take away their slices at the end of the party!
Debbie and I decided to purchase early on our fancy dress from a local store in Cwmbran with her deciding on an ABBA look and me opting for what can only be described as a John Travolta look without the quiff or duck’s arse but thankfully she didn’t seem to mind.
We’d also arranged with Olivia from the sister company of Get Together (called Get Noticed) to enlarge old photos of Debbie through the decades, culminating in a lovely large one of our marriage with Debbie’s parents Cliff and Glenys either side of us.
These posters prompted a lot of remembrance and discussion amongst our Welsh friends who remembered them living in Merthyr Vale where Debbie was brought up. We also had numerous helium balloons and banners celebrating Debbie’s sixtieth that Paul from “from the heart” our favourite card shop in town delivered for us at 3pm which was no mean feat but a great help to us both!
James and Emma decided to hire their costumes at a local Abergavenny shop!.Emma’s old schoolfriend Aleece from when we lived in Feltham travelled up from Putney that morning via National Express bus to Newport and then by train to Abergavenny where we picked her up.
At around 9pm we managed eventually to get everyone upstairs away from the music and bar to the second floor ready to feed them but first I gave a brief speech about how Debbie and I met & where. I also awarded the best fancy dress trophy to Terry Sheen. How he kept that wig on most of the night I’ll never know, however the same can’t be said of his moustache which seemed to come off leaving him with a “King Tut” type lower goatee later in the evening!
Then the disco got going as we danced to “Oops up side your head” on the dance floor!
Sadly later on in the party I found Debbie standing wistfully next to an old love of hers from the 70’s, personally I found him a little stiff and two dimensional, what do you think?
Apologies for those for whom we couldn’t find photographs, but Debbie and I for once put away our smartphones and relied on an old instant technology Polaroid camera lent by Alex and Emily. Alas these are a little tricky to share on this blog, but look great in our photo album that they gave us! As a result we’ve taken full advantage of shared/stolen photos and videos from friends’ Facebook accounts to do our best!
Lastly I know Debbie would like to thank you all for the many cards, gifts and good wishes from everyone they were very thoughtful!