I think the final count was something like 27 bottles of wine, eight bottles of vodka, four bottles of whiskey and a couple of beers. We were 12 for the duration, but a bunch of extras joined in on Saturday. I cannot quite believe the numbers as I did not do the calculation myself, but generally they are uncontested.
The weekend was always going to be a decadent one. But we were celebrating not only Bridget’s birthday, we were saying cheers, in a way, to her childhood home and the place of many rites of passage.
I brought Jack*, thinking at the time that I may well find eight hours to spend on getting my abstract right and fixing my essay on the tabloids. We were, after all, going to be in the company of hard-core party vets who were bound to sleep until mid-day. On Friday night I retired at ten while feeling still fairly sober. Of course when I got to bed and the spinning started, this turned out to be an illusion.
As was the notion that the HPV’s would be lying low until after lunch. The girls must be admired especially. It is unbelievable how much stamina and resilience can be packed into a size twenty eight pair of Diesel jeans. Perfect highlights, big glasses and a couple of runny eggs later, they were as ready to go as three-year old fillies on race day at Turfontein. Chomping at the bit. It was amazing. The fact that they looked like famous rock-stars to boot was particularly infuriating. Give or take five years we are about the same age. How DO they do it?
But I like them a lot, and it would not have been gracious to sulk.
Anyway. We had Bloody Marys at ten, shots of vodka at eleven, and opened the first bottle of Krone shortly after that. This was followed by a bottle of Villiera Brut Rose. Then we abused all colours of wine for the rest of the day so it passed languidly in a happy haze. Lunch was prawns and boerewors… after lunch I made the Gateaux Laurence. (I should just call it The Cake. As it stands, it sounds very complicated when it really is ridiculously easy to make). The final election results came in. Michael pointed out that the two-thirds majority-thing was a bit of red herring. We could not quite figure out why it had been such a bête noire.
We chose not to try, and instead we retired to the lounge and played Agatha Idols. I was Jana from Killarney, I sang Janis Joplin’s (of course) Bobby McGee and won the first round. I was very proud. Later I told Brad that to this day I have a secret yearning to be a doo-wap girl. (We sang Happy Birthday many, many times.)
In the early evening we lit the fires and ate the cake, incredulously, in tiny slices, while it was still slightly warm, and before the chocolate icing had set. It was delicious. Even Bridge ate some, and she does not have a single sweet tooth in her mouth.
Some went to bed late, some early.
Sunday started with more of the same, except that there were newspapers. A few wandered off to the Coach House for a classical music recital. I stayed in the room having fought and beaten various challengers to one of the two copies of the Sunday Times that were floating about. Later I walked through the famous gardens of Kings Walden. At the end of my stroll I found Bridget and Paige on the stoep under the dead tree and we opened up the last bottle of pink bubbly.
And so the last day started. People came back from all over and we ordered pizza for lunch.
There is something profoundly lovely about spending an entire weekend either pissed or pleasantly hung over. Events have more meaning in the moment, and are funnier in retrospect. It was also great to reconnect with people I have not seen for years.
It occurred to me, for the first time, that if friendships were organic… eh… organisms, and if they had, as a result, a limited shelf-life, surely then by the same token, they should be recyclable? I wondered about old friends and things that come and go, and come back again.
It was a great weekend.
* I have decided to find a name for the laptop, as I spend more time in bed with it (I especially love the morning lie-ins on the weekends with the newspapers) than I do with an actual man. I am trying “Jack” for the moment.