We lived in a close community, on a small social housing development, in the relatively affluent town of Fareham, in Hampshire. Me, my brother, Mother and Father resided at number 6 Nashe House, a bottom floor, two bedroom maisonette, in a development of 16 dwellings. Today was Silver Jubilee day, June 1977; it was windy and raining, typical English weather, and it was one of the coldest, wettest June's of the twentieth century. It was twenty-five years, since HM Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne, and the Country was celebrating in typical British style.
Jubilee Day was exciting, it felt like Christmas; hearing crashing and banging outside, shouts and laughter, people milling about, talking and chattering, I ran to my bedroom window. The small lane in front of our block was a hive of activity; people outside preparing for the day's festivities. Different tables, all shapes and sizes; wallpaper, trestle, brown wooden, gate leg, modern 70s Formica, all being laid end to end, creating a slightly unsteady, unsightly looking workbench; odd, mismatched, all different heights. This was a stage for the events ahead; this was our homage to the Queen, our street party surrounded by neighbours and our chance to play a small part on this momentous day.
The tables were duly covered with a sea of table clothes, the Queen's face emblazoned on each setting. Union flags, red white and blue bunting, banners and lanterns began filling the space between each flat, in the small gardens and in the washing area in front of the building. A sea of colour on an otherwise drab, grey day. I sat looking out of the bedroom window, nose pressed against the glass, elbows on the window sill, hands supporting my chin, peering down looking at the mayhem outside. With butterflies in my stomach, I made my way downstairs to join the growing crowd.
The tables were decorated with balloons tied to the back of each chair. Children and adults sat side by side, on the table nearest their door. Local residents started bringing out plate after plate of food and drink – a buffet fit for a Queen; sausage rolls, biscuits, cakes, jelly and ice cream, Swiss rolls, all piled high in front of our eyes. As children, we were awestruck, open-mouthed, exuberant; we had never seen anything like this before. Party hats were handed to each of us, followed by a flag with a photo of the Queen, fluttering with gusto in the unseasonably high winds of the day. The wireless was playing in the background; patriotic music, old school party songs and the National Anthem. We began waving our flags, throwing streamers in the air, cheering and shouting; ‘God save the Queen, God save the Queen!’
With party games in full swing, our glasses were topped up with orange cordial. Face covered in chocolate and a plate of pink blancmange in front of my eyes, I leant back on the squeaking wooden chair, swinging my legs back and forth, satisfied at the day's accomplishments. I don’t recall seeing Mum or Dad, I was too busy playing with friends. I can remember the fun everyone had and the Silver Jubilee mug we were all given; something I haven’t seen for many years. Also, I remember how tired I felt, as evening turned to dusk, and the sun set over the school fields in front of our flat. Finally taken to bed and tucked in by Mother, others older than I, partied the night away. As my head hit the pillow, eyes slowly closed, I could still hear voices and singing outside. I felt happy to have been a part, of such a memorable day.
The Silver Jubilee was over forty years ago now; we have had a Golden, Diamond, and Sapphire one since. I can still remember this day so well, because it was special. It was the first street party I ever went to and wouldn’t be the last. It was the beginning of my life outside the security of home, during my first year of school. Above all it was a joyous time spent with friends, neighbours and family, a part of me so sadly lacking today. Laughing, enjoying the most carefree time in my life; so different, so long ago, the memories remain as vivid as ever, a precious part of childhood, at an altogether different time!
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.