Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Maggie's 60th Birthday Party - Side A

Maggie's 60th Birthday Party - Side A
13 May 2014

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is how it generally works:  59 year old grannies turn 60.  Should they decide to have a little party or celebration, I think these are the standard party options:  1) a sedate ladies tea (usually lots of floral outfits on display – occasionally even hats, court shoes are a given – sometimes even green cross numbers), 2) a subdued family lunch – either home cooked or at a restaurant, 3) maybe a ladies luncheon or a brunch (floral + hats + court shoes).

They never, ever, EVER throw a rock party, with live and very loud music.  With guests ranging in age from 3 years to 84.  Musicians ranging in age from 7 to their 60’s.  They don’t transform the upstage attic in their home, into a live music venue.  They don’t fully cater for afternoon cake and tea, supper, snacks, breakfast and lunch, all in that order.  They don’t make provision for 40+ people sleeping over.  They don’t already have all of the basic and necessary musical equipment on the premises, including a drum kit, a huge variety of guitars, harmonica’s, saxophones, microphones, etc.  They don’t have a PA at their disposal, with all of the accompanying speakers, cables and the lot.

But somehow, that’s exactly what my Mom did.  But then again, knowing Maggie – it was the obvious choice.

My mom turned 60 on the 9th of May, and party planning and preparation for a big shindig on the 10th of May started months in advance.  Lots and lots of chatting about what to do.  Exactly what she wanted. 

Live music was always going to be on the cards.  It was a given.  And the family presence would be huge.  Which, quite predictably it was.

My sister and I, along with some of our kids, sans husbands, traipsed through to Muisnes (my mom and stepdad’s home in Tulbagh) on Friday afternoon already.  And we spent a lovely evening, chatting about the party in anticipation, getting some things ready and enjoying the company of other family members already there.  Things were particularly festive and celebratory – there was a birthday girl in the house after all!  And we sat around the dining room table for hours, sharing funny stories and anecdotes.  Laughing like anything!

Throughout the day on Saturday, guests started arriving.  And step by step, my mom’s attic was transformed into a fabulous live music venue.  The basics were already there.  For one, the space was ideal.  My stepdad, Daya’s 50th, a few years ago, had also been a music party, held in their attic.  Guests arrived bearing their own instruments, and the boys, with my brother as ringleader, quickly set up the PA, did all the cables, hooked up guitars, and so forth.  The pool table/table tennis table, was carried out of its usual spot and transferred to a different area in the attic. 

Funny thing is this – to the best of my knowledge, no additional chairs were carried up – my mom just so happened to have about fifty chairs in the attic already.  And those, without chairs, could simply plonk on pillows on the floor.  Or dance…  In general, there is a stage in the attic, where a microphone complete with stand, and the drum kit is permanently set up, much to the delight of the grandchildren.  The dress-up room to the side, was fully kitted for the kids as per usual, with the additional fun element being the very high mattress stack.  Simply waiting for guests to haul off a mattress should they get tired, and the need for sleep arise.  The attic already sports five beds, and so mattresses strewn around along the floor when sleep eventually came, made sense.  And hardly surprising my mom had enough bedding for all.  I swear – she could run a hostel!!!

Festivities started off with pockets of people all over the garden and house, chatting, relaxing and just chilling out.  A bar was set-up in the garage, and so there was a fair bit of activity around the watering hole as well.  Kids were running around, shrieking, playing soccer in the garden.  There was a group of younger kids, playing pool for a bit, dressing up, running in the garden, jumping and playing off the mattress tower, even indulging in some Monopoly.  Then there was a group of teenagers, who slunk off together.  Chatting, laughing, also indulging in a bit of pool every so often.  And then there were loads of other groups of people.  Mostly everyone knew each other already.  And it was a bit of a reunion, with those we had not seen in a while. 

The cake, treats, and edible tea-time delights flew off the table.  A very palpable feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air.  Maggie was presented with a truly awesome cake and all sang Happy Birthday for her, followed by a few speeches.  Yes – once again, I was the main chop that had to talk.  When Daya asked if any of the children would like to say a few words about our Mom, my yellow-bellied brother and sister both pointed at me and said, “Helene”.  And thus I started off my speech by promising to disinherit them from my will. 

It didn’t take long for guests to start moving upstairs, in anticipation of the musical delights to follow.  And how delighted they were.  My brother immediately took up prime spot, announcing and calling fellow musicians forward.  I find the ability of musicians to simply jam together amazing.  Nothing pre-rehearsed.  Nothing planned.  Yet somehow it simply always works.  And exceptionally well too.

Look out for Maggie’s 60th Birthday Party – Side 2 tomorrow.

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Gift opening - my aunt (Bettie), Maggie and little Honeypot (expert present unwrapper).

Soup supper with some of La Familia the night before the party

Much loved Aunt and Uncle - Bert and Bettie - all the way from Joburg. So special!

Bert, Bettie and Maggie
The two beautiful Lombard sisters - Bettie and Maggie

Starting to transform the attic. My mom's sister, Bettie taking down the karate belts, whilst my Mom is making yet another list, with little Honey looking on.

The attic rafters are filled with karate belts, from which the kids swing - Tarzan style. Decided to forfeit them and take them down as they would block the view.

View from the stage - chairs all around. Room to the right at the very back is the dress up room.

Crazy how many chairs my Mom already has in the attic!

The stage - still busy transforming the attic

My brother couldn't make it to my Mom's on the Friday, for her actual birthday. So we hauled out the life size Levi's poster of him and posed for a sibling pic. We found this completely hysterical!

A "real family photo". Saved us the hassle of using Photo Shop to add my brother in afterwards. Once again we thought we were really funny!

About two hours before the party, Katrine and I decided that it looked a bit drab upstairs. So we traipsed down to town on foot, bought some Chinese lanterns and decided to make some quick paper bunting using white sheets of paper and string. Super effective in the end.

As the tallest cousin on the premises at the time, Jaco was commandeered to hang the lanterns up. Not an easy feat. With the use of a pool cue, he managed just fine.

Katrine, The Pot and I

Jaco suspended from the rafters, precariously over the staircase drop, attempting to hang up the last lantern

Tea time treats - YUMMY!!!

The bar in the garage - complete with drop cloths

The old classic block posters are a permanent feature in the garage - beautiful!

Friends and family milling about

Lots of chatting, laughing and catching up

Kids playing in the garden

So grateful the weather played along

Bar chatting
Foefie & Foef

The attic transformed! Let the party begin!

We invited my Dad to my Mom's 60th. Thought he'd really enjoy it. Hung him up facing the bands. Know he would've have absolutely loved the music!

Frankie with a prime spot, facing the band. Hung him up fairly high, so that no one would obstruct his view... I know - we're really odd.

The lovely Caitlin Fenton, a pastry chef of note, made the most delectable cake ever!

Daya, saying a few words

Me droning away - I read speeches, I don't say them

Some of the crowd

More onlookers

Albert the clown, never misses a photo bombing opportunity

Heading upstairs - settling in before the music starts

Muso's getting ready

A cracking game of Monopoly in the dress up room

Some of the teenagers enjoying the Pool Table - always a winner

My Mom's youngest cousin's little kids shared drum-playing duty, whilst the real muso's indulged them, playing along

Meal time coincided with a cracking rugby match, so some of the guests indulged in some TV time

And the music starts - happy crowd looking on

Little Jo Lombard doing his thing - really looked the part and he played exceptionally well too

View from the back towards the stage

Brother Albert on lead, stepdad Rob/Daya on drums, cousin Gareth also sporting an axe, as well as the fabulous Willem Moller having a go too

A part of the Fenton contingent

Kids having fun in the dress up room on the mattress tower - stacked 13 high.

Boys will be boys, unless they're dressed like girls. In which case they'll be girls. The one and only Cole is rather unique.

Max Lombard - though given the outfit, it could just as easily be Maxine

Muso's are from left to right - my uncle (Jac), my brother (Albert), Vernon Swart on drums, my cousin (Gareth), my stepdad (Rob/Daya) and the leg of Willem Moller just sticking out at the very right

Daya giving it stick with his harmonica - love the ambience of these pics

My cousin Roxy, doing a heart wrenchingly beautiful rendition of "Summertime" - enough to give one the chills. She has the most magnificent husky voice. Very evocative and soulful.

Roxy and her dad Jac (my uncle) sharing the stage, with another cousin (Gareth), my brother, Vernon Swart on drums and Willem Moller - WOW!!!




  1. It is fantastic to have this record of my party Helene!
    It was a jol of note!!
    Thanks so much for your enormous role as archivist and record keeper!!

  2. I would have expected nothing less than a mini rock festival for your mom's birthday! And seeing as you already have approximately 35% of the most talented muso's in the Western Cape in your family circle, it would have been a damn shame to do anything less! Absolutely fabulous! Maggie is such an inspiration of exactly how I want my future family to be!

  3. Okay - so that was so much fun - can we do it again this next weeekend?

  4. Love it! special family, u lot!

  5. Love it! special family, u lot!

  6. Sounds a typical Lombard Fabulous doo Well written Helene you done your mom proud x Maggie you truly are and awesome human bean :) x