I was on Granddad taxi duty the other Sunday and had the pleasure of being the chauffeur for seven-year-old William’s visit to his friend Matthew’s birthday party.
Suffice to say that, like most things these days, it was nothing like the way it was when I was a lad.
This one was in Flix, the cinema combined with cafe and bar in Church Square, and it seemed to work perfectly for a bunch of bouncy kids of that vintage.
It’s run by Adam, the son of star Hartlepool restaurateur Krimo, and the ability to give customers what they enjoy has obviously rubbed off.
On arrival at the party, young William was straight into the viewing room to bag a very comfy looking large armchair.
It all looks very sophisticated with the guests choosing from a menu in advance and the birthday boy picking a film they would all like, which turned out to be Cars 2.
William had plumped for cheeseburgers and ice cream and, when I picked him up a couple of hours later, he looked well pleased.
He also had a goody bag and I’m delighted to report that his chauffeur was rewarded with some chocolate buttons for his trouble.
The grandkids always roll their eyes and glaze over when I tell them how lucky they are these days. But I guess that’s part of the grandparent job description.
When I was William’s age, in 1954, there wasn’t even a television in the house. let alone a big screen with hifi sound!
As I remember, the menu was mainly sandwiches, pies and that essential staple of a kids’ party then – trifle, jelly, and custard.
Careful watch was kept by parents in charge to make sure that you had eaten your “proper” food before going on to the “ket”.
Now there’s a word I’d almost forgotten which you never hear outside the North-East or Scotland.
Roughly translated as porky rubbish, I suppose its modern equivalent term would be junk food.
It also featured in many parental tellings-off too.
If you had a spot on your face, the instant medical diagnosis was “you’ve been eating too much ket again.”
As far as party entertainment went, rather than big screen technology, it heavily featured games like musical chairs and pass the parcel.
Both of these fun activities could often be the cause of major arguments and, occasionally, full-scale punch-ups.
There was always the kid who would start crying if he didn’t win, so the other kids laughed at him, and he decked them.
Usually though, it was fairly good humoured, but I don’t remember goody bags on departure.
I suppose people’s houses were treated a bit less like show homes then, and it was probably easier to remove jelly and custard from lino than it is from fitted carpet or parquet flooring.
Come to think of it, it wasn’t lino was it? In Hartlepool and district it was always called canvas, which totally confused incomers who thought that our homes had their floors covered in artists’ materials. If you came from Yorkshire, of course, lino was oilcloth!
I suppose one of the beauties of having your party at Flix or somewhere like it is that it’s not down to you to clear up.
Mine host Adam must have a highly cheery constitution.
He kept a smile on his face all afternoon and told me that he had another kids’ party due an hour later.
In about 10 years from now, it will be payback time, and the grandsons can drop me at my party.
I quite fancy feet-up with a film of my choice and loads of trifle.