A Wanstead afternoon and other social shenanigans


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The Wanstead Porkpie

It began on the first Friday of April. I had invited very old friends from Cambridge days of yore, people with whom I had mingled during the year of my secretarial training. The early ‘80s involved partner in crime, the ebullient blonde C, a crazy house and crazy escapades.

We lived at Number One Arthur Street, a cute corner cottage with deep sash windows. Weekends somehow combusted with spontaneous parties; no-one bothered to use the front door. They, including tonight’s dinner guests, gained access to the fun by simply stepping over the threshold of the low sash frames. I decided a little reunion was in order.

The Barrister I have seen now and again over the years but The Banker I had not; he tracked me down for his 50th two years ago, wanting his midlife celebration to unite people from far and wide, friends with whom he’d enjoyed good times over the years. Thank you Mr Banker for including me, for we would otherwise not be in touch now.

Mr Banker brought Mrs Banker, whom I knew more slightly from those days but we had not had a chance to speak at the 50th and rediscovering her company was a rare treat. C arrived to rumbustious welcome; she had seen nothing of these boys in the intervening thirty or so years.

These are not my drinking friends, I had reassured Beautiful Boyfriend before their arrival. They won’t stay late. My usually accurate antennae were flawed on this occasion for whilst Mr Barrister is teetotal and everyone really quite modest in their enjoyment of exceptionally good wine, there was so much merriment, so many memories around the table that the last of them departed at 3.30am. The dinner that I had approached with more than a little trepidation – how have they changed over the years? will we have enough to talk about? dissolved within seconds of their arrival. People, this little event was a joy, to be repeated again in much, much less than thirty years.

The following day we were expected at the Wanstead Afternoon hosted by avuncular, funny polymath Mr P. Mr P and I have not seen much of each other of late; some time ago we had a silly disagreement, which led to frozen relations. Happily for us both, his hand of friendship was extended with an invitation to his birthday party, a lunchtime gathering of friends, neighbours, family, children … and us. We arrived to a wonderful melee of music, a marvellous menu and the Grand National.

When I met Mr P in the ‘90s, he was a smooth DJ famed for kick-starting the Mother Bar in Shoreditch; his skills have not deserted him and the party swayed along to mellow soul, rare sounds and great grooves each of which captured the oh-so-memorable moments. We chatted to the gorgeous, glamorous Mrs P and their beautiful children, met her parents, saw old friends and made new ones. All of this in the home that Mr P single handedly, custom built for exactly this sort of off-beat, friendly, funny occasion.

Things got livelier when a distinctive, cardigan clad Artist upturned his hat for a Grand National lucky dip. Noisy debate ensued about the runners, the names of which were carefully cut out and dropped into the upturned Porkpie. Everyone jostled to pick their chosen horse; some did, some didn’t but to much collective congratulation, someone did win the £40 collected within the black brim.

We drifted off soon after the race, heading home for an early night, for Sunday brought more sociability; we live close to the Columbia Road flower market. The irrepressible and witty Ms C swung by for a late lunch and bringing flowers, news, gossip and gifts. A roast chicken was devoured (lemon and tarragon since you ask) with potatoes cooked in chilli oil and a herb salad. Bliss.

Things haven’t really stopped since; the Silver Fox celebrated his birthday the following Friday. After toasting him barside at our regular haunt, we retired to his home for music and dancing until the early hours. Mindful of self-preservation we left most of them to it at about 2am so as to be fresh for the next evening’s entertainment.

On Saturday, our lovely neighbours of a few doors down invited us to a Salon in their front room. This unusual event introduced us to a crowd of artists, filmmakers, teachers and more; a clever, compelling bunch with whom conversation was easy, interesting and fun. We gathered there to hear comedian and raconteur Nick Revell who kept us rapt with mirth and marvel for well over an hour. What a privilege to see and hear all this just a few short steps from our own home to which we returned replete and happy.

Our diary for this weekend and next are empty for the moment. We have eyed the clear pages with suspicion, for living here on this curve of the earth that is East London, who knows what will transpire and conspire to draw us into another amicable adventure?

© Giovanna Forte 2016.

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About fortewinks

A secretary at 19 and self employed at 26, Giovanna has become a British healthcare entrepreneur. She is also a bon vivant and mother of two clever and accomplished daughters. Youngest-of-All is a talented Patisserie Chef living and working in Melbourne Australia (if you are there, visit All Are Welcome in Northcote). FirstBorn is a, adventuresse, published author and documentary journalist who lives wherever her mood or investigations require. Happily she is currently in the UK.
This entry was posted in Entertaining, Family, Food and wine, Friends, Home, Life and romance, London, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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