“Yes, I’d love to join in with the street party,” said Rosemary.
“Well, we’re not exactly holding it in the street,” said Ceri. “Too much traffic. We’ll set up tables on the field. Have you got a picnic table or anything similar?”
“I’ve got a small picnic table that would seat two, but I’ve also got a wallpapering table. Would that help?”
“Brilliant idea! I’ll ask the others if they’ve got wallpapering tables. We should be able to lay them out in rows. My John is getting a roll of paper from work to use as tablecloths, they’re donating it free of charge.”
Rosemary half listened as Ceri rambled on about the party to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen having succeeded to the throne. She only hoped the rain would hold off. Still, it was usually pretty good around that time of year.
“I’m glad you’re getting the ball rolling early,” interjected Rosemary when Ceri paused for breath.
“It’s a matter of having to. We had to submit our application to the Council last week. Now, I’m drawing up a list of the food people can provide. We thought it would be best if those providing food could provide a quantity of one thing rather than bits and pieces. Have a look at my list of suggestions and see if anything appeals to you.”
Rosemary cast her eye over the list and chewed her bottom lip, deep in thought.
“I’m not much of a cook but I’m pretty good at chocolate mousse. Put me down for that.”
The date of the party came around alarmingly quickly. With organisational skills worthy of a sergeant major, Ceri called on her contributors two weeks in advance.
“Still okay to provide a hundred portions of chocolate mousse? Had any thoughts on what to serve it in?”
“I thought I’d get some plastic cups, and tie red white and blue ribbons around them.”
“Sounds great!” said Ceri with a grin.
Three days before the party Rosemary checked her mousse recipe. It catered for six portions, so she multiplied it by 17. And did a sharp intake of breath at the quantity of eggs, chocolate and cream she would need to buy. She rang her sister who kept hens.
“No problem, Rosie. I’ve got a couple of dozen eggs you can have, and I’ll have a word with my girls, see if they can pop out a few more. They’re laying well at the moment.”
Rosemary made a special journey to the supermarket and cleared the fridge to make enough space to accommodate a large quantity of cream. She hadn’t reckoned on spending quite that much money, and hoped it would be worth it. As well as buying the ingredients and the plastic cups, she’d had to buy six large plastic jugs with lids. There was no way she could fit 102 cups of mousse in the fridge overnight!
Rosemary’s sister delivered three dozen eggs, and supplemented with those she already had Rosemary calculated she had enough. So she set to work. It took a few hours, but finally the last jug was stowed in the fridge. Rosemary felt as though she would probably be stirring sticky chocolate stuff in her dreams.
The day of the party dawned, and to everyone’s relief it was warm and sunny. Rosemary carried her tables across the road to the field just after nine, but Ceri and her husband and two sons looked as though they’d been hard at work for some time already. They had set up an assortment of tables, topped them with paper and secured it to the legs with tape so it wouldn’t blow away. Each table was decorated with a wine bottle decorated with balloons and streamers in red, white and blue.
Shortly after, some more helpers arrived and started banging posts into the field and rigging up lights and streamers.
By the time Rosemary started ferrying her jugs of mousse across the road the party was already underway. The tasty aroma of sausages, burgers and onions sizzling on a fleet of gas barbecues assailed her nostrils. Rosemary’s next door neighbours, Paul and Richard, were busily buttering hundreds of bread rolls.
“Welcome to the party!” called Richard. “Come and have a drink!”
Rosemary accepted a glass of wine. With superb teamwork the barbecue chefs managed to turn out a continuous stream of hot food to keep the masses satisfied.
“Is that six burgers you’ve had, our Gareth?” Rosemary heard one mother chide her son.
Then it was time for the pudding course, so Rosemary swung into action. But where were the plastic cups? She was sure she’d left them in a box next to where her chocolate mousse was sitting in the shade. She’d also put a large pack of plastic teaspoons in the box.
“Oh, those plastic cups,” said one of the neighbours. “They’re over here, but a lot of them have been used for drinks.”
Thankfully all was not lost. A couple of lads did a mercy dash to the supermarket, and they were back in ten minutes with reserve supplies which they insisted on paying for themselves.
“They only cost a couple of quid. Don’t worry about it,” said one.
Rosemary’s chocolate mousse was quickly dispensed, and everyone pronounced it a success. Particularly young Gareth who managed three portions. Rosemary was a little disappointed that the new cups lacked her festive ribbon trim, but on such a day it was merely a minor detail.
They danced and partied until the early hours of the following morning. Nobody complained about the noise, because most of the neighbourhood was at the party. Even Mrs Protheroe who was 87 said she hadn’t danced so much since the war. Everyone agreed it had been a great party, that it had got them all out of the house and talking to each other, and that they should do it again.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015