I, along with a considerable number of friends, would attend impromptu parties in and around the Laindon area. These were not the normal parties that sensible people would associate with, but sensible is not something I have never been accused of being. We might have a party in an open field, an old barn or any other vacant space large enough for 30 or even 40 people. On occasion we held these “events” in empty houses, just prior to their demolition by the Development Corporation in their quest to “improve” the area. One of these empty houses, to the best of my recollection, was situated on land somewhere between Windsor Hill and to the rear of Foyles Library.
It was rather a large property as I recall, larger than most others in the area. We would take some “lucky” girl with us, after having first visited the off licence to purchase two bottles of cheap wine (Sauternes), one for me, one for her. One of our crowd would bring his battery operated record player and as many as half a dozen records, no point bringing more as the batteries wouldn’t last any longer than six plays. As it was winter time it was rather cold in the house, so somebody lit a fire in the open fireplace, using, I guess, bits of wood found laying around. As the evening/night wore on it got colder, the answer to this was to rip up a floorboard or two and burn them. However we had no means of cutting them to size, so just one end would be put into the fire and as it burnt down, would then be pushed further into the fire, and so on.
The “lucky” girl would taste her lovely bottle of Sauternes, screw up her nose and say “I’m not drinking that muck”. Now I’ve got to drink both bottles, end result, sickness and having to be walked home by my unhappy young lady friend. (role reversal) This happened on more than one occasion. One by one we would drift off home, some might be silly enough to stay the whole night, but the girls were mostly expected to be home by 10.30/11 o clock at the latest.
Now I’m not suggesting foul play but, the demolition people found the job of demolishing this particular property somewhat easier than expected. I suspect somebody had been a bit lax with the pushing of the floorboard further into the fireplace as was necessary, and that the fire had crept out onto the floor and caught it alight. For the following day the house had been completely gutted and razed to the ground. Oops! That’s how to party 60/70s style, well it was for some of us. Good old days?