P'tite soeur is an extremely talented organizer of parties. She managed to gather together about 20 of her friends from various different contexts, including schoolfriends and all three of her siblings. She pointed out this made it the first occasion in well over a year when the four of us have been in one place simultaneously! So very, very good to see the sibs. We had lots of long and crazy arguments about politics and philosophy and language, and the Persegirls joined in tentatively and Screwy did his usual thing, so subtle you have to be watching to notice it, of drawing in the shier people and making them feel their opinions were worth hearing.
The party itself was enjoyable. It wasn't one of those phenomenal parties that everybody ends up talking about forever after, but everybody had a good time and it was sociable and all the disparate groups got on well. Even with two brothers present the male:female ratio was exceedingly skewed to the fairer sex, but I don't think the couple of guys present coped too badly with this. Amusing quote of the evening: a Nottingham friend of P'tite Soeur's asks a Cambridge friend of hers:
So, have you known [S] since she was [livredor]'s age then?
We went out for a meal at a Turkish restaurant, a very pleasant place with a generous set menu for £15 a head. There was a lot of food; I ate too much and I rarely do that, but anyway, when they brought a complementary cake for P'tite Soeur I just couldn't manage one crumb of it. Food was nothing special, fairly standard generic middle-eastern fare, but not bad either. I went a bomb on the pickled chillis, I adore those things. A minor problem was that although P'tite Soeur had specifically checked out the restaurant as being wheelchair accessible, she hadn't realized that as a pre-booked large party, we were in a semi-private room upstairs. We dealt with this by means of Thuggish Poet physically carrying Screwy up the stairs in his chair; my brother is a strong lad! Oh, and very randomly indeed, puzzlering showed up with VM (who as well as being a Persegirl is / was our next-door neighbour in Cambridge.)
Then we headed on to a cocktail bar, which was in principle a nice place but very Saturday-night crowded and thus excessively loud and heaving. I can imagine wanting to drink there at quieter times; the ambience was very pleasant, slightly old-fashioned decor that was neither olde-worlde nor ultra-trendy, but just nice, with light wood and comfy chairs and rooms that were potentially spacious even when over-full. And a good range of cocktails which were generous and reasonably priced. Really, we'd bonded as a group so much that by this stage were more interested in conversations than drinking or being part of the scene. So we were attempting to have a lot of highly intellectual discussions at shouted volume. Of course, this being England at the scandalously late hour of 11 pm, there were no options for quieter (or less smoky) places that were still open.
We managed to get about 5 (large!) cocktails into P'tite Soeur in the hour before they kicked us out. She is a very cute drunk, like an exaggerated version of her usual chatty and affectionte self. So I got lots of hugs and lots of background information about her love-life. Short version (and not revealing too many embarrassing confidences): she is best of best friends with the guy who dumped her a year ago due to geography, and this in spite of the fact that they still have serious feelings for eachother. If she must repeat my history at least she's doing so in upbeat and happy mode.
Thuggish Poet, by contrast, is in the aftermath of a really nasty breakup with the girl he'd been seeing for the past couple of years. There's not much I can do for him beyond listening sympathetically but it's a real pity to see that. Screwy is physically in very poor health; he's been plagued by minor infections, which tend to hit him hard for a combination of reasons, and the antibiotics he has to take to prevent even worse consequences tend to cause other symptoms. I was really shocked when I saw him in decent light for the first time when we got back to P'tite soeur's place at around 1 am: he's disturbingly pale and underweight even by his standards. He says he's anaemic which would explain the vampiric appearance but I'm a bit concerned. But apart from that he's happy; he says he's getting better at his job and that life is good for him.
We ended up with about 10 of us staying over; we stayed up for a bit carrying on the fun conversations and laughing at P'tite soeur's amusing lack of balance. The only downside to this part of the evening was that the house appears to have only two CDs: a Beatles one and some "Latin Groove" crap, and even the first we heard far too many times. Six hours' sleep sharing a single mattress with P'tite Soeur and in the middle of a cold draft led me to conclude that I'm getting too old for student parties! But this morning P'tite Soeur got up with me at 8.30 and not only made me tea, but even some very grand cheese sandwiches for my lunch, and was generally incredibly cheerful and lovely, especially considering how little sleep and how much alcohol she'd had. Love my sis.
One of the Persegirls travelled with me as far as Leeds, which made the journey back a lot less miserable than it might have been. Lovely girl. She got me talking about my work and I was babbling about it lots as I do, and she commented that it was lovely the way I talk about high-powered intellectual stuff without being condescending or showing off. I'm really pleased by that remark! It's really amusing to switch back into Persegirl register. Even though I don't know most of P'tite Soeur's friends that well, we have such an obvious shared background and oh boy, the Persegirl mannerisms were out in force with five of us in one room.
OK, so I'm dog-tired and my nose and throat are irritated by all the cigarette smoke which is also making my hair and clothes smell disgusting. But it was a fun weekend and it's very lovely to have the freedom to do crazy things like that!