Fashions change and things come and go. The lives we live today are not the same as those lived by our parents. For instance, entertaining is much less formal than it was. Dressing for dinner probably now means popping a quick wrap over the bikini before going to a barbecue!
Appreciation of humour changes as one gets older. The things that we found amusing as children are usually outgrown as our knowledge of language and life increases, but our memories can still amuse, even though we have outgrown the initial interpretation of a situation.
My parents often entertained. Sometimes impromptu visits by friends just turned into parties without any planning, at other times invitations were issued, and all were well attended. As teenagers my brother and I were allowed to attend, and were often invited to reciprocal occasions, so we knew the family friends well. Some of them were colleagues from Dad’s job, others were neighbours and friends from nearby. I’d like to introduce you to three, all of whom were a great source of amusement to us innocents..
Firstly, I’ll mention Peter. He was a neighbour. Sleeked down black hair, with an Errol Flynn moustache. I didn’t like him, in retrospect I know why, but at the time it was just a question of black and white – and he was definitely ‘black’. He was a peacock, and loved to be the centre of attention. He also loved shoes. Quite often he would wait until there was a lull in the conversation and then announce in a loud voice ‘I’m wearing my new shoes today. Do you like them?’ He would waggle a foot to make sure that everyone knew where his shoes were. Sometimes they were leather: black, brown or patent, once they were white. Suede was often the order of the day too: beige, brown or tan. Some had laces, others were slip-ons or boots. I didn’t know there were so many different sorts of mens shoes – and I’m sure he would have worn red or another colour if they had been available. (I rather fancy he’d have worn stilettos too, given half a chance)
Next we will turn to Bill. He was enormous. Well over six feet in height, and proportionately built. He lived a rather exotic life, travelling the world on holidays and investigating antiques and paintings. He always had ‘it’ first. If anyone announced that they had a new ‘anything’ Bill’s automatic response was ‘Oh yes, I’ve got a couple of those in the attic’. He had a big house, but I have a feeling his attic was about the same size as Wembley Stadium. I distinctly remember that he apparently even had a couple of barbecues up there!
Alf was as short as Bill was tall. I doubt that he was five feet, and he too was proportionately built. He was really down to earth, and these two men were probably my Dad’s best friends. We saw them often, and I knew well that one was short and the other tall, but it was at one particular party that this fact really drove itself home.
The three men were sitting near each other, Peter on a settee, Alf on one chair and Bill on the chair next to him. The three were engaged in some sort on animated conversation, but inevitably there was that conversational lull and Peter saw his moment. The arrival of his new shoes was announced (laced suede boots) and all eyes turned towards them. All except mine, that is. You see, for the first time I had seen Bill’s feet next to Alf’s, and I got the giggles. Bill was wearing size 14 brogues, whereas Alf sported a pair of black lace-ups in size 5. The contrast was just too much and I collapsed in giggles. Of course, everyone else thought I was giggling over the suede boots and I was joined by a few stifled giggles from some of the other guests. Peter didn’t notice, he was too busy stroking the suede to notice, and Bill and Alf were blissfully unaware – as was everyone else.
I was reminded of this story a few days ago when I read this post. Take a look, it’s worth it.