We had wonderful birthday parties due to Mum’s planning and her good fortune in having a mother-in-law who taught juniors and also had an unmarried teacher friend who was prepared to help at my parties in June. Auntie Dora lived in Banbury, so we did not see her very often. Grandmother could play the piano for games like pass the parcel and had a gift for story-telling. A favourite game was the Stagecoach. All the children sat in a circle on the ground. She told each child who or what they were in the story. There was always the coachman and the wheels. Everyone together constituted the coach. When we were mentioned in the story we had to stand up, turn found and sit down again. The stories were always exciting, but I cannot remember any of them in detail
Another game involving lots of running about was the post-box game, where cards with names of towns had to be posted in the post box with that name on it. There would be about four post-boxes with about six names on each. Then there was the chocolate game where the person throwing a double six had to put on gloves and a scarf, pick up a knife and fork and begin to eat a wrapped bar of chocolate. Meanwhile everyone else was trying to throw a double six. Sometimes double sixes were thrown in quick succession. Other times the chocolate would have just been unwrapped when the next six was thrown. It was exciting and often frustrating.
A game of skill which was also suitable for Helen’s parties in October was to transfer dried peas from one dish to another using a straw. Two teams would compete. Mum also made up puzzle games, such as one where names of animals were hidden in a story.
There was always the party tea with a home-made cake. Party bags had not come into fashion. Partygoers were content to take a slice of cake and a balloon home.