Party at Bromley Court Hotel
arrived at the hotel at 2pm and checked in. They met the duty manager and
ordered some teas and coffees in the lounge area and then went to look at
the tables set up in the dining room. These were beautifully decorated
with floral arrangements and the room looked fabulous. Jason and Gareth
then volunteered to blow up the balloons and Mel and Mandy decorated the
tables and put banners all around the room. Eileen got the Heads of Table
cards out and the place cards which doubled as badges.
The first people they met were
Chris and Paul, already in the bar and then Maggie and John arrived.
Afterwards cousins arrived in droves. There was a little moment of panic
when Dave and Isobel did not seem to have a room booked but this was down to
Eileen’s typing as she’d typed Wright not Bright.
The weather was foul and it seemed
that the directions to the hotel which she’d taken from the internet were
not particularly good. Shirley had driven up from Whitstable with Margaret
and Pearl and somehow ended up in Godstone but they got there in the end.
And then Bobby and Patrick arrived somewhat flustered as they had got
completely lost and parked in the National Car Park and got a taxi.
Jim came down to mingle with the
guests and fix any problems which arose and then Gill and Alan arrived, then
Glen and Gill and Anne and Richard. Marg and Berne arrived just ahead of
Ken and Sue and Barry and Ellen and it took Berne nearly half an hour to
prise Marg away to get her and the cases to their room. Uncle Bill arrived
with his violin having had an horrendous journey but his faithful Tom-Tom
got him there in one piece.
She had asked for some plates and a
knife so they could cut the cake but these never appeared. What did
appear was another party who started on the teas and coffees but they
disappeared after twenty minutes or so when it was discovered that their
refreshments were being served in another bar.
Then Margaret realised that she and
Diane did not eat meat and it was a set meal. Eileen pointed out that
she’d asked for any special dietary requirements back in September but
Margaret said they were not really ‘special.’ However, Jim got this fixed
too so they got a nice vegetarian meal. There were three people who could
not come at the last minute so Jim fixed it that the table places were
removed so that there was not a gaping hole in the table plan.
After so much meeting and greeting,
it was time to put on the frock so she went up to their room and sorted out
Dave and Isobel who were having problems with the key and thought they’d
have to come down to dinner without their finery on.
After a shower and wash of the hair
she left Rob to finish getting ready and went down to greet the guests with
a Bucks Fizz. She herself was on lime and soda as she wanted to remember
every minute of the evening.
She met Linda, Ron, Denise, Malcolm
and Nicky in the lounge and then went into the bar. Margaret and Pearl
came down in the lift with a gentleman they had never met. “Are you an
Armhole?” asked Pearl much to his chagrin as he was not with the same party.
Jim had fixed it for Marg and
himself to greet guests outside the bar area on arrival and then feed them
into the bar in an orderly fashion. This arrangement worked very well and
it did get very crowded and noisy in the bar. Jim fixed it for the meal to
be served a little earlier so that they could encourage people to find their
Oliver and John were playing and
singing in the dining room and could not be heard over the din in the bar
but as everyone went into dinner it was really very pleasant to hear them in
the background and everyone was impressed.
Eileen then did a little speech
trying to introduce everyone but she stumbled rather when she got to the
emotional bits about how much she loved Jim, Marg and Rob’s two girls. But
she thinks everyone knew what she wanted to say.
The meal was excellent and the wine
flowed. Before the champagne, Jim made a speech and the grandchildren
made a presentation to her. Jim then presented her with fifty roses which
were absolutely fantastic. They all sang Happy Birthday and For She’s a
Jolly Good Fellow and then everyone went out to the bar for coffee.
Here she was surprised to find a
projector on which was being played a DVD which Jo had been working on since
October. There were old photographs, interviews with friends and family,
an ode by Gwyn about her teeth and much more. Apparently this was just a
summary of the material on the real DVD which she would get later to watch
at leisure. Most of it including Gwyn's ode "Toothy Peggy" can be seen on Jo's blog and this is the
Once the tables were cleared,
Oliver and John entertained everyone again and kept the volume just right so
that folks could natter or dance or join in the songs. Everyone said how
good they were and how nice it was that they did not mind people talking
while they played.
While they were playing she went in
search of a quickstep. Remembering her brother had been to the same
dancing school, she got him on the floor. However, she quickly realised
that he had forgotten everything he had been taught. But the moment was
recorded by Jo on a video-clip which everyone would see later.
Link to video-clip
She then realised that it was 10.30
and the cousins still wanted to perform a few family songs and Uncle Bill
might want to play the violin. So Oliver and John finished at this point
and the Disco started up.
She also managed a jive with Berne
who is the best jiver in the country. This left her a little hot so she
went outside to cool down a bit. On her return, cousin Harry made a
little speech which no one understood and presented her with a lovely wall
hanging which Pat had put together but which all the cousins had signed
separate parts of the patchwork.
Elisabeth, her French teacher said
she had some gatecrashers but these turned out to be guests at another party
in the hotel restaurant who knew Elisabeth and who wanted to hear Oliver
singing. They loved it as much as everyone else.
The disco guys tried to get
everyone on the floor again but this time were stopped by Marg who then said
quite a few words. She said she had posted people around the hall who
would let her know if she was not making sense or if she had gone on too
long. She had everyone in fits about some of things she and the birthday
girl had done together over the last forty years. It was also very moving
as she had made a little bag up and in it were sixty pieces of paper on
which she had written all the qualities she saw in her best mate.
The disco had another go at getting
everyone on the floor but were stopped again by cousins Jean, June and
Doreen performing “All The Rage” which ended up at each chorus with most of
the cousins joining in with a knees-up and then sitting down again for the
next verse. June and Doreen then did “I’m a Lady Policeman” for which
they had made truncheons but they had forgotten to pack them. Vince then
got up to do Birlington Berty and then he and Eileen did “Outside the
Lunatic Asylum.” Gwyn said afterwards that only Eileen would have got up
to perform with a one-armed man a song which needed actions.
The disco started up and Uncle Bill
was asked if he’d play in the bar area while those who wanted to dance
carried on in the hall. This was all set up. Uncle Bill had printed out
song-sheets for everyone and out came the violin. Everyone piled off the
dance floor and into the bar for the singsong. It was the icing on the
cake for her and made her evening complete.