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The party hangover.

Byline: Judith Holder

OK so this is a puzzle. The question is ... how would it be that I went to the ironing basket and found a slice of bread about three layers down?

How would it also be that the bottle opener went missing for several days and turned up in the shoe polish tin?

Why were there melon pips turning up all over the house for at least a week?

And how come two of my hats were found blowing around the front garden?

Have you guessed what it is yet? No ... more clues needed then ...

Why would the police have been called at five in the morning?

Because the neighbours were complaining that the sit-on lawn mower was being driven round the lawn?

Now surely you must be getting warm, or hot even.

We have teenage children ... getting warmer?

One of them had a birthday. One of them had - yes, you have it - a party.

The sort of party naturally that, when it was agreed to, was only going to be close friends and strictly by invite-only.

Oh how it all went wrong.

But then I suppose they always do, or even did even when I was a teenager. What happened is what always happens, someone brings someone else and they, in turn, bring someone else and before you know it, you have half the neighbourhood.

Elder sister spent most of the evening trying to keep the thing under control, and at one point lined everyone up in the hall and asked birthday girl to go along the line and identify who she did indeed know and managed to chuck a few people out - only to find that someone else would let them back in through the back door.

It's not like they didn't try to take evasive action - but it failed.

It's no good me pretending that I didn't go to parties where everyone took advantage of their parents' trust and hospitality.

I went to one where the teenager decided to take his parents' car out for a spin to show off how he was learning to drive. He was so neurotic when he got it back into the garage that he spent a good half an hour trying to position it in exactly the same spot under the ladders - so his parents wouldn't notice.

Unfortunately, it was an automatic and when he found himself reversing because he was too near the end wall, he panicked and pressed the accelerator and not the brake and so reversed at high speed through the closed garage door.

Oh my god. That sobered us all up good and proper, he called his parents, who were down the road having dinner, and their shock was such that he had to say it three or four times before they could take it in.

They made him pay for it - literally - and of course the damage ran into hundreds, even in those days.

And the only way he could repay them was by doing painting and decorating. Poor bloke was painting and decorating for the next three years through most of his holidays.

The damage in our house was bad enough for me to have a total sense of humour failure for some weeks - aga door broken, stained glass window broken, camera and ipods stolen and someone set off a fire extinguisher and sprayed it all over the contents of our messy garage.

Every single item has had to be washed and put back.

The insurance company have been brilliant, although no doubt our premiums will go up, and our daughter has lost all her savings, which have gone towards the damage.

More troubling in a way was that so many of her friends put photos of the fun they had on their beebos or facebooks, or whatever they call them.

So I have had the misfortune to see some of their frolicks in my kitchen, dining room and landing - falling about and dancing and giggling - presumably with slices of melon in hand.

It's not like it turned into a drugged-up orgy or anything like that - they are really very nice teenagers - but frankly a nice adult house to themselves and one or two drinks and, hey - this was the result.

Never again.

Let this be a lesson to anyone thinking of allowing their teenagers to have a party in their house.

It could have been a lot worse, they managed to keep the gatecrashers out of the two posh rooms in the house, and for that I am truly grateful.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:758
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