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Super 8

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Super 8

 

Mary had invited all her friends to her sixtieth birthday party. It was delightful. The house and garden looked spectacular in the May sunshine. The buffet, set out on a trestle table and topped with a white linen cloth, sat beneath the jacaranda tree, almost as if the tree itself were leaning over and inspecting the pink-flushed prawns, cold meats, crusty rolls and salad.

Judy was one of the later arrivals. The big house felt spacious and well cared-for. Every door seemed to be open, those leading from room to room and those out to the terrace. It was as if Mary was flinging her arms open and embracing everyone. The breeze was pushing the white curtains softly, perhaps a muted version of that scene in The Great Gatsby where Nick first visits the Buchanans. Mary’s husband George had given the stage over to her, but was in the background, acknowledging each friend as they arrived, and shaking their hands with a grip that was slightly firmer than Judy had anticipated. Of course, he made sure everyone had a drink.

Judy had known Mary for ten years, since they met at the office, but sensed that some of these guests went back much further than that. They were introduced as cousins, or school friends, or people Mary had been on holiday with at least half a dozen times. The house and garden filled up as they assembled and greeted each other, then fell into little relaxed groups. Men in shirts of soft weighty material, their flat cuffs pinched by gold cuff links, stood beside women in cocktail dresses that sat snugly on their hips.

In the lounge a DVD was being projected on to a large screen on one wall. Judy stood in front of it. It was a film of a children’s party, which must have been shot originally on a home movie camera by a proud parent. One immediately started to date it, working from the available data. There were sandals and white socks, and floppy hairstyles on the boys. Party frocks on the girls, slightly high-waisted; a bicycle being wheeled around the garden, with somewhat antique, fat, cream-coloured tyres and a stately saddle. An enormous cake. Early 1960s? The children themselves must have been ten or so years old.

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