My Country was a Party

By Lisa Kelly. Read by Jan from Chingford, London.

until it was broken up. Many people had been invited.
You could say it had an international flavour.
Guests brought food from their own countries
for everyone to try. It was a smorgasbord. Delicious.
The invite said bring your own bottle and some brought
more than one. The spirit was one of generosity.
Not everyone understood each other perfectly,
but imperfectly was enough. When the music got loud,
we communicated with smiles, handshakes, hugs.
There was dancing. If you didn’t know the steps,
someone would teach you how. We took it in turns
to DJ, mix the decks. A party like that appears effortless,
but we all knew the amount of preparation it took –
and we thanked the people who had taken the time
to create such an atmosphere. But it wasn’t to last.

We are not sure exactly how it got broken up, who
called who, who was thrown out first, what got
trashed, but the aftermath was chaos. Invited guests
had belongings chucked onto the streets, red wine spilled
and stained the floor, the sound system was broken.
It happened quickly and we couldn’t understand why.
Couples who had been dancing together, were screaming
at each other. There was talk of gatecrashers – a gang
of thugs who planned destruction for the sake of destruction.
Perhaps they felt left out, perhaps they felt aggrieved
that such a party was possible that they had nothing
to do with. All we know is that the party was broken up,
and now there is talk of a different sort of party –
one with a strict guest list, one where the music is
pre-recorded, one where we all dance in a straight line.

Used with kind permission from the author.

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