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The Party

It's a family thing?

No way, at all, the party plans will be allowed to falter

A centenary birthday bash is set, for good old Uncle Walter

The village hall is truly full, as all are gathered round

But sadly only family now, his mates are in the ground

Born into a different age, the youngest of eleven

He became the last one standing at the age of seventy-seven

First he lost three brothers in a French field near Mametz

All fell in the same advance, it was a black, black day

Father was serving there as well, the only one that came back whole

Whole in body certainly, never again whole in soul

Father was a farrier, he saw men and horses lost

He came back hating conflict, he couldn't accept the cost.

A broken man he spiralled down, and died, it's sad... but then

At least he missed the second war where the family lost two more men

Young Walter was an engineer, he stayed at home with Mum

Working on munitions until peace once more had come

Although he was the youngest, at home now the only man

Five sisters all got married, so just him and Mum, and Nan

Walter never married, he was devoted to his siblings

and all his nieces and nephews, he doted on his 'niblings'

I remember once some years ago, it bothered me, truth be told

He looked at me sincerely and said 'Lad, don't get old

Old is only relative, I know that much is true

But when Death makes you the only one, there's nowt left here for you'

He was well into his nineties and I said 'You've not looked better

It won't be all that long now, until you get Her Maj's letter'

'A hundred years', he sighed, 'You know I may be wrong

But in all honesty, I don't think anyone should live that long'

Yet here we are in the village hall, at his centenary birthday do

Waiting for midnight to come along, so it's his birthday true

Another 'special' family thing, just like all the others

All the blokes are by the bar, the cousins and the brothers

Cousins playing catch-up, 'Where are you living now?

...Oh yes, I drove through there once. It's somewhere down near Slough.'

And at the tables down one side sit all the Mums and Aunts

They tut and sigh as little lads slide round in new school pants

You see their anger rising, slowly, by degrees

As they watch the holes begin to form around young Brandon's knees

Aunt Muriel's on the gin again, it brings out all her fears

She's convinced that no-one likes her, so she's sat alone in tears

She remembers who did favours and which ones did the crimes

Keeps her hit and other list (you know the one – it rhymes)

Mike is getting loud again, I hope that won't mean trouble

Problem is, I think this drink will be the fourteenth double

The teenage girls are on the prowl, these days they're so much bolder

Although they're just fifteen or so, they're looking five years older.

Aunt Madge is looking daggers across to Uncle Ron

The Feud's been on for decades now, it just goes on and on.

The tale goes back to black and white days, if you want to know the cause

Ron said that Madge reminded him of the film star Diana Dors

He'll never be forgiven, he could buy her silks and furs

He'd said like Diana in THE sixties, Madge thought that he said HERS.

Now the cake is carried in and Walters called to task

One hundred candles all alight, bearer in a welders mask

Then adding to the laughter and to carry on the jest

With them came a fireman in a high-vis safety vest

He carried an extinguisher to finish off the game

To help old Uncle Walter as he disposed of all the flame

Looking at my watch it was eleven fifty-two

'Only a few more minutes now, and the birthday boy is you.'

Then he took me by the hand and pulled me in so near

The chatter and the music made it difficult to hear.

But I know his words will stay with me forever and always

Etched deep into my heart until I reach my end of days

'I've lived through years of happiness and survived when things got tough

But with all things considered... it's time – I've had enough

I remember all the heartache, and I think of all the fun

Remember what I told you, Lad. My time here now is done.'

He squeezed my hand and looked at me with a look that seemed so wise

He looked at all his family there, then smiled and closed his eyes.

I looked at the people there with music just too loud

Realising what he'd shared with me, I'd never felt so proud.

I turned to cousin Cathy and told her 'Walter's Gone'

I said that he was ready, but of that she'd have none

She is a works first aider and seemed to know the score

She lifted Walter from his seat and laid him on the floor

Loosened all tight clothing at neck, at chest and waist

Then she started pumping – setting quite a pace.

'He said his time was over, he's happy now, he's fine.'

She just said 'don't be so silly and ring up 999.'

She sent Nick round to the Doctors, 'Tell him he must rush!'

Then carried on the pumping, her face now looking flush.

The Doc turned up in moments, unusually looking rough

You could see his striped pyjamas, beneath his trouser cuff.

He did his checks and turned to Cath, couldn't hear what he had to say

She shouted ' Don't you dare! You can't do that today!

You'll say you want to call it, I'll say just now you'll not

His family came for a hundred, not ninety-nine and a lot.

Just give me two more minutes, please let me carry on.

Tomorrow he'll have made it... please wait 'til midnight's gone.'

That man he was a diamond, he could see she needed rest

He told her she should step away, and took over at the chest.

No-one had told the DJ, and he'd just carried on

At midnight he did the count-down, 5..4..3..2..1

That's when the doctor stepped away, and the ambulance arrived

He said that nothing more could work, after everyone had strived.

The family then all gathered round, were told what Doc had done.

I hope he took the next day off, they bought him so much rum.

I hope that you've enjoyed this tale, it's more than just a story

Of Uncle Walters big finale, out in a blaze of glory

I think old Walter had something, when push comes to the shove

It must be worse than horrible, slowly losing all you love

I don't think I want to make it, all the way up to the ton

And have to look around me thinking I'm the only one

Rest in peace Uncle Walter

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