I am standing on a doorstep approximately six years old. My mother hands me a brightly coloured present, and I am asked to ring the doorbell. The gift is wrapped up with a metallic ribbon that has lost its curl. Most children I imagine would feel excited by the prospect of entering a birthday party. There was promise of jelly and cake and pass the parcel. I however don’t feel excitement. I feel sick, like I have already eaten too much jelly and cake.
I remember the flooring of the village hall was a dark brown vinyl and a fleeting appearance of a pastel pink dress. The children played at the front whereas the adults mysteriously gravitated towards the back. I placed myself halfway and got dragged along in the activities somehow. When it came to the time of singing happy birthday, I as usual mouthed the words. This remained a secret, as everyone focused on the one or two particularly enthusiastic participants (the ones that were often labelled as the ‘class clowns’ at school). Even now decades on, when I ring the doorbell of a party, I am transported back to that doorstep. Feeling like I have just eaten too much jelly and cake.