Last month we had the annual Fête des Voisins (Neighbours' Party) and it was a corker.
Just for something completely different, it was raining and cold in Lausanne that night, so we held it in the drying room of the now world-famous laundry-cum-bomb shelter. Carlo, one of the stalwarts of our building and a dab hand at interior decoration (seriously, it's what he does for a living) prettified the joint with oil paintings, bunting and fairy lights, got the iPods full of power ballads and disco hits out and made sure there was bench space for the rivers of booze and piles of nibbles that accompany our annual bash.
It hasn't been an easy year for many of our neighbours. Some have faced bereavement, others serious illness and unemployment. It always means so much to me that we come together every year and have this party, and that some of the innate Swiss reserve is discarded and that every year the party gets a little more rowdy and a little faster and looser.
This year there were kids running wild throughout the maze-like space (it was the first year in which Bas could really run free with the other kids and chat and bellow like a walrus, which was lovely) and adults going hell for leather on the dance floor under the clothes-drying lines and at the bar. I retired relatively early (sober, pregnant, tired, needing to put Bas to bed by 10pm etc) but I could hear the celebrations going on until the wee hours, even through two floors of concrete. It was hilarious to listen to these normally mild-mannered people screeching to Journey songs and laughing like drains.
Denis staggered in at 2.30am, pissed as a newt and woke up with an almighty 'geule de bois' (hangover) shared by almost everyone in the building, even the octogenarians and the usually circumspect-when-it-comes-to-alcohol Italians
'We should do this more often' is the popular catchphrase after such a night. It doesn't really happen (work, life, the Swiss mask going back up quick-smart), but I love that we all feel the same way about this annual party.