At the early evening birthday gathering, I looked around and realised that everybody there was old. The two young waitresses at the wine table were observing a gang of people who appeared to be but a few years away from becoming permanent residents in old folks' residential homes - "The Willows", "Shangri-La". "The Knacker's Yard".
Silver hair and silver-framed spectacles. Faces creases and etched. Mostly retired people with investments. Home owners in comfortable shoes and decent apparel. People who could remember the sixties and "Look and Learn" and "Spangles". And I was one of them.
Like most cities, the city of Sheffield is a place with extremes. There's poverty here and citizens who wonder where their next meal is coming from or how they will pay the electricity bill. In contrast, there are fabulously rich people who live in secluded mansions with swimming pools and send their kids to private schools. And then there are the in-between people - like those at the birthday gathering. People who reside comfortably in the south western suburbs. People like me.
I have never much enjoyed parties or large social gatherings. I would rather talk with one or two people than a milling crowd. But sometimes you just have to do it when duty calls. Frankly, it would have been nicer to be back on top of Pike Lowe, sitting alone on an old rock, admiring the view and the silence. However, I got through it. I didn't spill my complimentary glass of wine, my flyhole was zipped up and my shirt was tucked in. Shirley was not embarrassed.
I even managed some polite small talk. I wonder if there are evening classes you can attend in order to improve your polite small talk. Sign me up for the beginners' class! By the way I think I left one fellow quite gobsmacked when I asked if he was Peter Thompson's son. Peter was a geography teacher when I got a job in a south Sheffield school in 1980.Apparently, he is now eighty seven and still going strong but I had never met his sixty something son before. Talk about spitting images!