What we did in the 1970’s (cont.) by Deborah Bromley

I used to work with Graham and Laura, his wife, is a nice girl and we all got on like a house on fire. Other couples were joining us. I think Graham said there would be ten of us altogether. We were going to drive down to their huge new house next to a golf course near Reading. Very salubrious and plenty of open views. Not overlooked, either. All we had to do was get dressed up and take our contribution which was to be a party game. An adult party game to get things started, if you know what I mean.

Now I was all for the balloon game. The one where everyone lines up and you pass a balloon down the line without using your hands.

‘Too tame,’ Ellen said. ‘We always do that one at the office Christmas party. No … think of something more risqué.’

‘But I’ve never been to this kind of party before. I don’t know any games.’

‘So Kevin, are you saying you’re an adult party virgin?’

‘Don’t say that. You’re one as well.’

‘That’s what you think,’ Ellen said.

I was shocked. My prim little wifey had been to a few adult parties. And she never told me a thing about it!

‘It’s not etiquette to talk to your husband about two things: your ex boyfriends’ performances in bed and all the orgies you’ve been to.’

***

After a couple of hours of sulking I decided to make up my own game based on that childhood classic – “Pass the Parcel”. I thought this was genius. I could write a filthy forfeit for each layer and get something seriously naughty for the middle, the prize. For that I had to endure the embarrassment of visiting the sex shop in Middleton Road. It was not a happy experience. Enough to put you off adult parties for life, but I got what I wanted — some very racy S & M stuff. I then sneaked out of the shop as quickly as I could, in case someone saw me.

I didn’t tell Ellen what I was up to. She could jolly well wait until party night to find out which game I’d chosen. I made up lots of naughty forfeits to go in the layers. I was thinking of Ellen when I wrote a few of them; I wanted a bit of mild revenge. I’d teach her to go to orgies without me. I know that sounds pathetic, but I didn’t care.

***

On the afternoon of the party it was mad at our house. I don’t know where eight-year-olds get their energy. They seemed to want to race from one end of our lounge-diner to another, screaming their heads off. Ellen and my mum were doing damage limitation. Tea wasn’t scheduled for over an hour. My daughter looked like she was going to cry and I had no idea why. I thought kid’s parties were supposed to be fun. It was a mystery.

Ellen rushed back into the kitchen where I had retreated to keep out of the way.

‘God, remind me never to host a kid’s party again. Can you put the kettle on? I think your mum could do with some tea. She’s doing a great job settling the little buggers down. Hopefully, once we get the music going and some games on the go, the screaming will subside.’

‘Okay. I’ll make a pot.’

‘Just bring it in when it’s ready. I’m heading back into the fray.’

‘Good luck.’

Ellen smiled at me, that special kind of smile that she has. And in that moment I forgave her for teasing me about the orgies. And reminding me about her ex-boyfriends.

I boiled the kettle. It was quite peaceful in the kitchen. Tea things were laid out on our large kitchen table. The sandwiches were already done and in the fridge. I knew because I’d sneaked a couple earlier. Egg and salad cream. My favourite. I filled the tea pot and got out our best Denby mugs. I was feeling happy. Everything was right with the world. Two sugars for me, none for mum and a sweetener for Ellen. I turned around to get the tray. That’s when I heard the shouting.

I couldn’t make out what was going on at first but it sounded like a problem that needed a man to sort it out. Until I heard the words that strike dread into the heart of any husband. Especially one called Kevin.

Ellen was yelling at the top of her voice. ‘Kevin! Kevin! You just wait, Kevin. You’ve done it this time. You’re  a bloody disgrace.’ This short speech was accompanied by a female child crying and my mum saying, ‘There, there, dear.’

Thoughts about past transgressions whizzed through my mind. Had I forgotten to change the fuse on the record player? Had I left my football socks under sofa? Worse, had I left my jockstrap under the sofa?

And then it dawned on me. Slowly but surely. Just at the exact moment that my wife walked into the kitchen with my parcel and a handful of the forfeits that I’d written out for our adult party.