Mickey laid on the ground, the grass tickling the nape of his neck as a kaleidoscope of colours filtered their way through his half open eyes. His mouth dry and parched from the night before but cured by a sip of the remnant Harvey Wallbanger that sat in a tall glass beside him, nestled in the long grass, which he was very mindful to not knock over. The sun beating down on his brow reminded him he needed to put sun cream on but he couldn’t be bothered, it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, he had better things to do with his time. The distant sound of the grass being cut filtered through his still buzzing ears. The next door neighbour walked past and tutted at the site of this fully grown man sprawled out on his front lawn, surrounded by the aftermath of last nights party. He knew they disapproved, but what the hell it was the sixties and he was young, who didn’t want to party? The warmth of the sun suddenly disappeared and Micky sensed a shadow had been cast. He opened one eye to see Mrs Jones standing in front of him, silhouetted by the sun, turning her into a angel like figure.
“Hello Mrs Jones, how’s old Bert’s lumbago?” It was a question he always asked her, which he thought she approved of. She was the only member of the neighbourhood who ever engaged with him, he thought it was because she had been a bit of a raver in her time, that she could relate as there was always a twinkle in her eye when she spoke to him.
“Oh he mustn’t grumble. It was a pretty wild party you had last night young man.” The twinkle reappeared but her mouth showed a more stern expression. “You might want to turn it down a bit. There was a meeting last week by the Residents Association and they are talking about reporting you to the council for your rowdy and debaucherous parties.” Again the glint appeared, Mickey wondered if Mrs Jones would love to be there secretly.
“Residents Association! Didn’t even know one existed.” Mrs Jones had grabbed Mickey’s attention, so he sat upright his arms behind him forming a triangle to prop himself up. He studied her face, he reckoned she must have been a looker in her day and even though she must be around 63 years old, give or take a few years, she still had a full head of hair that was more blonde than grey, with the most fantastic cheek bone structure for someone of her age. He quite liked her not in a pervy way but as someone to talk to in passing.
“Apparently you were the topic of conversation for a whole five minutes, so I’ve been told.” Mrs jones opened her handbag which she had propped on top of the privet hedge and after much fumbling produced a white cotton handkerchief which she used to dab her nose gently and then return to her bag.
“Thanks for the heads up Mrs J, I’ll have to be more considerate to my neighbours in the future.” He gave a little wink to conclude his response. She just smiled and gave a casual flick of her hand by way of a goodbye. She knew he had no intention of doing anything of the kind but that was his choice and with mission accomplished she carried on her way.
Mickey surveyed the garden, noting the randomly strewn fall out from last nights wildness, thinking that maybe he should clear it up. He actually couldn’t remember much about the events, which told him it was obviously a good one. Even he had to admit the partying was getting slightly out of hand but what the hell, he was still young. There was plenty of time for the suburban sobriety once he settled down, right now he was going to enjoy his singleness and if that meant upsetting the neighbours, so be it. He quite liked the thought of being the talk of the street. His head still felt heavy from the alcohol induced headache so he laid back down onto the warm prickly grass, closed his eyes and drifted away.
By the time he awoke the sun was no longer warming the front lawn and a chill had descended making him shiver, although his face felt warm and tight.
“You still here.” Mrs Jones had made her journey and was then returning. He had no idea how long he had been laying there, but Sunday seemed to had been and gone in a haze.
“Mmmm.” He raised his hand in acceptance as Mrs Jones carried on her journey.
This was no good, his house had become party central recently and although he was loving it, the rumour of the residents association worried him, OK so he wasn’t a conventional resident and a guy’s got to have fun, but he thought maybe his actions could be construed as being a bit tedious to residents, OK very tedious to residents. He was going to make a conscious effort to tone it down a bit. Better still if you can’t beat them how about joining them.
He had two options, he either had a party and invited all the neighbours or he joined the residents association. But then what if he did both? A plan was forming in his head, even in his, drunken/morning after the night before haze, he could still formulate a plan. The Residents Association wouldn’t know what had hit them. First things first though he had to tidy up, armed with a black sack, the remnant’s of the night before were removed. He was going to show them who could be respectable, a pillar of the community and all that.
With the garden tidy, the next thing to tackle was the house, then to put the plan into action.
Mickey sat down to put pen to paper.
Dear Residents, you are cordially invited to a gathering at 10 Collingmore Road at 8pm on Friday 10th August 1962. Refreshments will be available. Mickey
He wrote the invite in his best hand writing, no spelling mistakes, but most important of all, the wording. No mention of parties or alcohol in site. He knew there would be those that came out of curiosity and there would be those that stayed away because they wouldn’t want to associate with him but eventually they would come round.
The star clock on the wall had just clicked onto 8:00pm, everything was set up and ready. He sat at the mahogany table waiting. Mrs Jones was the first to arrive, well the only one to arrive. He knew she would come.
“Give it time, they just need a little coaxing.” She sat next to him at the eight seater table, her hands clasped around a steaming cup of tea, served from his best china. “Look I can see what you’re trying to do and it’s admirable, but they’re not all as open minded as me, they need time. I will spread the word for you but maybe next time tell them what you are doing, it may just take some of the mystery out of your invitation.”
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I was expecting too much.”
The next week the invitation read :
Dear Residents, you are cordially invited to a Bingo night at 10 Collingmore Road at 8pm on Friday 17th August 1962. Refreshments will be available. Mickey
And with this invitation the battle was over, not immediately but week by week more residents attended. He was the talk of the neighbourhood for all the right reasons.
Photo by Helene Immel on Unsplash