Well, party starter may be a bit of an exaggeration. In fact I was terrible at parties through my teens. My M.O. was to be incredibly shy to begin with, drink too much, too quickly, in an attempt to overcome my shyness, get depressed because of the excess of alcohol, then decide to walk home without telling anyone, regardless of how far from home I actually was. One one occasion I had no idea how to actually get home from the part of Leeds where the party was held, so I walked into the city centre and then out again to the suburb where I lived, even though it took nearly 2 hours. Another time I walked home with no shoes on after vomiting all over a friends’ kitchen.
A couple of times I decided to host parties at my mum’s house while she was away on holiday. The first time was a small gathering of 8 people and was great fun. The second was a bigger, messier affair and one of the least pleasant nights of my life. A TV was thrown out of a window (an old, broken black and white one, but still), and I punched someone for the first and only time in my life – a story for another time. I will be sure to remind my daughter how little fun it is hosting a teenage party when she hits that age.
By university though, I discovered raving and, not coincidentally got the hang of a parties a bit. Nights were late, music was loud and I was occasionally the last man standing. One party near Liverpool was still going strong when I left 24 hours after it began. On another occasion, I left a party around 7 on a Sunday morning, got on a bus home and thought I was getting some funny looks from the other passengers. I shrugged it off, went to bed, got up on Sunday afternoon, walked into the front room where my flatmate burst into laughter. I had forgotten that during the party I had a large curly black moustache drawn on my face with (thankfully non-permanent) marker pen.
As the years wore on the late nights got a little less late and less frequent. Now I’m a father in my thirties it’s pretty rare that I’m not in bed by 11, and staying up till even 2am seems impossible, whereas 10 years ago my night would have barely been getting started at that time.
All of this makes me feel a little old, but what truly made me feel old was when our new neighbours across the street, all in their early twenties I would guess, decided to have a party on Saturday night. Our street is small and terraced and noise really travels, especially if you’re sat out in the front yard, which, with it being a warm summers’ night, of course they were. I lay in bed listening to a particularly loud scouse girl talk nonsense about travelling and politics whilst others sang along to bad nineties pop songs like M-People and The Lighthouse Family. Which made me feel even older, as I guess our equivalent would have been ironically appreciating Duran Duran. Sometime after 1am I couldn’t take it any more, got dressed, crossed the road and asked them if they could keep it down. I was half expecting abuse, but instead they apologised sheepishly and went inside.
This made me immediately feel terrible, and a little hypocritical. I’m sure that at all the parties I attended in my youth I never once cared about the neighbour’s disturbed sleep. They obviously didn’t realise that the noise was bothering anyone, and seem like nice kids (one even came round to apologise on the Monday) .I felt justified in asking them to be quiet as our 14 month old daughter was trying to sleep in the next room. The thing is, she wasn’t at all bothered by the noise, so really I was only looking out for myself. I have always struggled to sleep through noise. In one of my post-university shared houses my bedroom was next to the front room, and as I was working full time I invariably went to bed before my housemates, and then fumed silently as they played music and computer games in the front room, preventing me sleeping.
Thing was, I would never say anything as I didn’t want to be the party pooper. Now, aged 35 that’s what I am. I’m the neighbour being annoyed, rather than the one annoying the neighbours. There’s no going back from here.