Let’s get in a time machine and fly back exactly fifty years. It’s Friday 19th March 1971. The year that Britain will vote to join the fledgling EEC. Decimal money has arrived. Most people are relieved to get their letters and parcels back after a six week postal strike. Imagine you had just bought your brand new executive home on the outskirts of London, and were about to receive guests for a housewarming party, where doubtless you would discuss the above, and many other issues. But what would you have served?
If you hadn’t lined one up, you could rely on one of your guests to show up with a Watneys Party Seven. This was a large can which held seven pints of cheap beer and was designed to slake thirsts all night. Watneys , brewers of the famous red barrel were incredibly succesful at this time. Yet the real ale boom of the1970s was about to cover their brand names in obloquy and by 1979 they were no more.
Ladies (it was a less equal and enlightened age, remember) might have preferred Babycham. This was a cool light sparkling perry which had taken the 1960s by storm, and would not go into decline until the late seventies, when it looked to be going the same way as Ben Truman, cheap aftershave, and the British Motor Industry. Luckily for mankind, die hard enthusiasts kept this one on life support, and recently modest increases in sales have been reported.
Elsewhere in the room a new beast was stirring. Before the 1970s, the further you went down the social scale in Britain, the stronger was the regrettable assumption that drinking wine was somehow foreign, an unusual practice associated with those whose jobs were considered to be slightly -er-unmanly. Yet the sophisticated crowd (those who had been on a 10 day package holiday to Alicante) were bringing back exciting tales of wicked foreigners and their strange goings on-and wanted more. Up sprang a whole range of bottles with funny names like Hirondelle, Blue Nun, Black Tower, Mateus Rose– to cater to the tastes of this elite segment who knew, in the words of the old song “the future belongs to me!”
No seventies evening was complete without nibbles. (canapes were something you put over the patio when it rained) First there was The Snack with No Name. This comprised a single cocktail stick bearing a square lump of cheese and another of pineapple. Ubiquitous throughout the 1970s, they were abolished by Act of Parliament as one of the first actions of the Thatcher Government in 1979, and were never seen again. Peanuts came in one form only-salted. Of crisps, there were but three-salted, cheese and onion and prawn cocktail. Talking of which, it was the height of sophistication to put real prawn cocktail into hollowed out advocados-and assure doubtful guests that you did not own a cat.
So now lets drop the diamond stylus of our new Decca stereo on the first of tonights selection from the Hit Parade. It’s Resurrection Shuffle by Ashton Garner and Dyke. Coming up are Bridget the Midget by Ray Stevens and My Sweet Lord by George Harrison. But best of all, the number one sound. Hot Love by T Rex. We feel sure the publishers will not mind if we quote a line from its sophisticated, almost Wildean lyrics, and leave you to enjoy the weekend
She ain’t no witch and I love the way she twitch, oh ho ho (there’s a link below)
Watney Combe & Reid – Wikipedia We understand the party seven is making a come back-wow!)
Worthington Brewery – Wikipedia
#cocktailnight #watneys #babycham #hirondelle #1971