For the last eighteen months, parties have been things we all just remembered enjoying (or perhaps not enjoying). On August 10th, one was thrown by the Buddies Organisers to at last mark the wonderful achievements of all involved in the Volunteer Group. And it was one that I, for one, did indeed enjoy.
It was lovely to finally get to meet my fellow Buddies, and to see us all collected in one room, to share stories, drink a Pimms and have a few sarnies. The atmosphere was very upbeat and constructive as new friendships were ostensibly cemented. At one point I was joined by a very nice bloke called Paul, who, like me, had retired from his job of many years and was now looking for pastures new. Then a bit later, I met an old fire brigade pal of my brother's, called Gareth. We had a pleasant chat about allotments (a favourite topic of mine since I've been on a waiting list for about five years!") I enjoyed Gareth's company very much, and when I spoke to my brother the next day, he confirmed that Gareth is one of the best.
But each one of us at the throng, I would say, is one of the best; it was a room full of good people who've done their utmost to give some love and help to those less fortunate during troubled and unprecedented times. And it got me thinking afterwards about the possible collective noun for the Buddies. Could it be a Happiness of Buddies? A Sainthood? A Pride? Readers of this (if there are any) will no doubt have their own suggestions, and perhaps this could be a thread, but in the end I decided on a "Kindness of Buddies". I'm sure you can do better.
But in mentioning Sainthood above, I would like to add here my tribute to Liz, Kedren and Sara (and other leading lights) who've given so much to the organisation and worked so hard towards its success. Moving tributes were spoken by - and to - Liz. Deserving tributes actually, and if anyone deserves to be added to the Queen's honours list one day, it would be Liz! The Mayoress, who gave a lovely address to the audience, spoke about a time when she might step down... so I wonder if Liz might fancy herself in that role? She'd certainly get my vote.
Anyway, as I said, it was a lovely evening and a fitting celebration. We even had musical accompaniment from a very talented pianist outside - nice to have a cigarette and listen to the tickling of the ivories (even if there was a slight overload of The Beatles for my liking!)
Which leads me to my only other complaint... that I had to leave a bit early, and in doing so, forgot to take my goodybag! A Goodybag of Buddies, anyone? So if you took yours, and have been munching ever since on your Dolly Mixtures, spare a thought for the man who forgot. Then again, who needs a goodybag? All you really need, as the song goes, is love.
You can obtain Mark's anthology of stories, Day Return to Cocoa Yard, here...