40th Birthday Party - Sandbach Cricket Club

by Emmett Stapleton

It's been wedding after wedding after wedding this summer – so much so they all merged into one and we can't remember much about any of them except they were all top top parties and at least one of them involved us packing up and leaving as it was getting daylight the following morning……
Anyway. Autumn is here, the weddings have stopped, and people are having 40th birthday parties again (Christmas passion 1971). And so Sandbach Cricket Club was our destination for Zoe's party.

When we arrived to set up (well, when TWO OF US arrived to set up…..) there was all manner of cricket related tomfoolery going on – white clad cricketers smoking cigars, drinking brandy and dragging their captain out onto the pitch, debagging him and pouring a bucket of ice into his cricket box…… And here's me thinking it was only rugby players who got up to that sort of thing. "Oh no" said our rhythm guitarist Squire who plays cricket of the over-50's variety…. sorry 50-overs variety: "At my cricket club we're always getting naked and rubbing ice cubes on each others' bodies…..

"At that point, our lead guitarist Prof. Metz turned up with our lead singer Mr X who was late due to being unable to get off his couch and switch the TV off. Mr. X immediately sat down in the corner with a pair of dark glasses on and a T-shirt that read "Leave Me Alone – I've Got Lead Singer Syndrome". This was the cue for drummer boy Burkey to slander him with a tirade of critical abuse that ended with the words "Next time you'll be getting an invitation into the garage son….."
Employment tribunals done with, we set up and soundchecked (not easy – massive high pitched roof with no ceiling) and adjourned to the van for a pre-gig chill out whilst watching the guests arrive – an awful lot of kids…….

The word was that the buffet was being served at quarter to 9 and we would start playing at 9.15. Come food time there was only Dave and Squire on duty so our bass player had to take to the mic to announce the buffet. "OK ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Zoe's 40th birthday party. I hope you're all ready to enjoy yourselves this evening because later on we have live music by THE FRAUDSTERS who are nothing short of BRILLIANT! ….. and I should know 'cos I'm in them!... but for now you'll be overjoyed to hear that the buffet is served …. I thank you!"

The sound of one man wetting himself sniggering is a beautiful thing – thanks Squire!

Come 9.15 it was mentioned that we would be starting any minute now. The buffet queue was still quite long however, and although we always wait our turn, food is a necessity. Any suggestion that we might start without eating was met with the gruff retort from Prof.Metz "I'm not playing until I've 'ad some fodder"

The first set was blasted out perfectly. The sound on stage was a bit of a mushy whirlwind, but Mr X ventured outside his crease (to use a good cricketing term there) on a couple of occasions and he said it sounded good in the slips. The many many kids present were outside at the big glass windows, pulling faces at us, dancing on chairs, doing the Mobot, eating TONS of sweets and sticking glowing flashing red spheres in their gobs. Burkey spent most of the set doing exactly the same back at them.

At half time it was again left to Dave to do the announcements while others were at the bar smoking cigars. This time it was the cake cutting: "Watch you don't cut the table in half Zoe!...... It's not easy doing a speech while holding a pint of Gin is it Zoe?!....". etc. etc. ha ha ha "You're such a professional Dave" was Burkey's take, immediately followed by Mr X charging up to him and screaming "WHAT ABOUT SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY? EH? You fffffkn AMATEUR!!!"
Set Two rocked and rolled as it always does with the real BIG party classics, and the kids joining the grown ups on the dancefloor to twist like the sugar addicted ravers they were. We finished off with a perfect rendition of "I Am the Resurrection" then left Metz to DJ while the rest of us headed outside to pull faces at him, eat sweets, and put glowing flashing red spheres in our mouths……..

By midnight there was only us and the birthday family left – dancing and generally keeping the party going to curfew time. Soon after that The Professor left us to go on holiday (he had half an hour to catch his flight to Benidorm) taking Mr X with him. Burkey, Squire and Dave were left to pack up with help from the bar staff, then head for home in the van (but not before doing a bit of gardening / bush pruning for the cricket club). What a marvellous effort it was.
We hit 'em for six, bowled a googly, skittled their bails, and drove them through the covers. And ate some cake. Good night

Davebass