The Casual Father: Residents lose grasp of situation at street party

Casual Father

Casual Father - Credit: Archant

In my opinion, there are few things more uniquely British than a street party. So it was both an honour and a pleasure to be able to take Elizabeth to her first one last Sunday, aged just eight months old.

Nearly exactly 35 years her senior, it was also my first foray into the world of bunting, cake competitions and mingling with neighbours you spend the other 364 days of the year moaning about.

However, I was excited to see what the day had in store, with the intention of paying my own tribute to our reigning monarch by drinking gin just after lunchtime.

The wife was busying herself as early as 8am, and I was given strict coordinates of where to set up our table not long after.

Venturing outside, the street was already a hive of activity. People were up ladders pinning bunting, tables were being laid, while a lady dressed as the Queen barked orders to the enthusiastic volunteers.

Having been told by the “Queen” in no uncertain terms where exactly to place our table, I brought Elizabeth outside to experience a true piece of British eccentricity, and to act as a conversation aid.

Everyone was particularly friendly and keen to know more about the wife and I, what we did, which number we resided at. It was a bit like speed dating.

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By the time we reached midday, the party was in full swing. Alcohol was flowing, the barbecue was sizzling, and kids were playing football in the street. Elizabeth, with a bemused, yet inquisitive look on her face, ate two satsumas and then promptly fell asleep for much of the rest of the day.

This meant she missed the most dramatic incident of the afternoon, and it was nothing to do with the “Queen’s” controversial decision to award first place in the cake competition to a batch of brownies.

No, the high drama came during the neighbourly tug of war contest.

The gentleman organising the event had kindly brought his own rope, which looked less like the sort of one you used to climb to the top of during PE, and more like something you would tie your bicycle up with.

A few heats took place involving children, boys v girls, over 13s v under 13s, that type of thing, and all was well. As usual, it was when the adults got involved that carnage ensued.

The call was made for a contest between one side of the street versus the other, which the wife and I duly got involved in, along with about 40 others.

No sooner did the man taking the slack give us the order to heave than the rope split in two, causing a domino effect, with more or less everyone hitting the deck.

The aftermath was like a war zone. Kids with grazed knees were crying, sunglasses were smashed, and the poor man taking the slack was quickly taken to A and E with lacerations to his hands. Mentioning the incident to one of the organisers later on, I hinted that the mishap may have spoiled the atmosphere.

“Nonsense,” he replied, “It isn’t a good street party unless someone ends up in A and E.”