A number of years ago, my destiny – and as it happened later my wife’s life was channelled into serving our community as local Councillors. Politics is never boring as many MPs will attest, but local politics at Borough level is cut throat and highly charged with duplicity, intrigue, and downright stab in the back political murder carried out by (usually) your comrades whilst one arm is round your shoulder. But – in our twenty year service we also made some great lifelong friends that (with their partners) measured in the dozen and even today I would trust implicitly.
In my case I also trod that duplicitous path and decided after twelve years to turn my back on the whole system by not standing again. In my wife’s case the Archdeacon of lies – the then Prime Minister was shown the door to relative oblivion by the national electorate and along with that rout my wife and I became ordinary citizens once more.
However, the friendship’s forged in those years has thankfully lasted and I like to think even grown whilst the dozen of us have continued to keep in contact. When Jan (my wife) managed to cut the tendon in her finger one year her daughter Tina stepped into the breach and manfully managed to peel the ten kilos of pickling onions we used to supply in Christmas’s past. Afterward Tina – bless her – confessed that she hated picked onions and would not want to take that chore on again. We came to the conclusion that we should ask the group to help.
The following year Jan rang round to our friends and explained that the pickled onions would have to come to a stop unless our friends would help peel them. Sure enough, each said they would be up for it – and so, a whole new adventure started.
Fortunately, we were (and are still) running a Tenant ‘s Association on a Council estate with accommodation able to seat all our friends and as the years have passed, what we call our pickled onion night has turned into a real treat. OK, Onions do invade the sinuses and make the eyes stream but later Jan, manages to provide diverse nibbles before a sumptuous fish and chip meal is delivered by our local chip shop,
Across the table the banter is usually profound and sometimes a bit raucous but never without respect for each person’s opinion. The subject’s discussed fascinating and profound for most of the time but occasionally, when we meet, a silly side emerges and we might try a snatch of poetry or a song that we all could remember from our early childhoods. After all we are all of roughly the same age.
In fact one excellent evening at Chris and Rosina’s when we were celebrated Pat’s sixtieth birthday Rosina put on a tape of old forties and fifties music based on the old Saturday morning radio programme which started with ‘Uncle Mac’ saying “Hello Children everywhere” . Well all of us smiled to hear really old TV tunes like “Robin Hood – Robin Hood” , “Come away – Come away with William Tell”, and even “Have gun Will Travel is the Card of a man”. But when the “Teddy Bears picnic and “You’re a Pink Tooth Brush – I’m a Blue Tooth Brush” we all collapsed in heaps of laughter. Sometimes – quite rarely people don’t want a night to finish and that was me that night. Eric, Tony and I could easily have given the Beverly Sisters a run for the money with our rendition of “SISTER’S, and then again collapsed again in laughter. Was a few tinny drinks involved Oh – yes but how many can say they have known a night when their ribs ached through proper belly laughs along with such great friends.
Not “if” but when, my old soul is called to another place – I will (I hope) still remember those night’s we sang with such gusto To “Cockles and Mussels” and other such gems from our collective pasts. I readily confess that our “pickle nights” are a real joy to me and I suspect to a lot of the others. These are good solid friends who I believe, will stand the test of time and probably follow me, at some time, into the next adventure of fun, whenever that might be.