I went out for dinner last night, a belated birthday treat from a friend I haven't seen since her birthday in May - when I was lucky enough to witness this spectacle:
I suggested she should choose the restaurant, what with living in Cardiff and eating out more regularly than me (this past few months I've eaten out more than I usually would in a decade - honestly).
"Jamie's is good - have you been?"
"I'm sure it is good, let's go"
I wasn't lying, I knew we wouldn't turn up to find a sulky teenager reluctant to put her mobile down, unsure of the specials and be presented with a plate of reheated boil-in the bag curry. I was also sure we wouldn't encounter a loud, lisping Oliver promoting Sainsbury's sausages in one of his own franchises.
The service was excellent, food OK, wine very good, the presence of Oliver's over-priced merchandise (Tea-towel £12!) just about bearable along with the over-use of the word 'amazing' on every specials blackboard.
I could have been in Mc Donald's with Clare and enjoyed myself, her company is all I need for a stimulating evening.
The only uncouth people I encountered were on the train there, and back.
On the way to Cardiff an anxious Londoner with 3 mobile phones stood a few centimetres away from the doors all the 30 minute journey. At one point I heard him say "We'll 'ave a cuppl' a salmons, innit?" the last time I heard this phrase was Mr C from The Shamen saying "Anybody got any salmon? SORTED!" on their God-awful hit 'Ebeneezer Goode'. Google tells me it's rhyming slang for 'snout' as in salmon and trout. Goodness knows what a 'couple of salmons' refers to.
Here's a snap of his feet, look how close he's standing!
I reckon Ryan V of 'Cynon' is gutted about his spelling mistake, how embarrassing! Must take ages to etch the train seats, what a shame:
On the return journey, a well-oiled gentleman (who was perhaps feeling rather frustrated as a result of being surrounded by girls in their late teens dressed in vests and hotpants) squared up to the ticket inspector. The inspector was built like a brick outhouse (I shan't swear) and the drunken guy, with a fistful of gold rings and tombstone-teeth must have felt very low in the pecking order stakes. He was thrown off the train.
Today, I am feeling a little anxious as Sunday draws nearer. A joint party for my middle son, who will soon be 4, is being held at a local community centre. Along with a sweet girl in his class (whose mum was in school with me) and around 30 kids - a celebration will take place. I am SICK of celebrations!
An ageing 'entertainer' has been booked, he sounds like someone who has a bi-polar personality; an equal mix of over-inflated ego and crushingly low self-esteem (hmm, sounds familiar). I bet he goes home after each party, necks a bottle of Buckfast and weeps as he leafs through photo albums depicting him in his youth - the glory days.
Disposable plates, plastic table cloths, party bags and balloons will be ready for landfill after two hours of sweaty, high-pitched frenetic activity. Parents with folded arms will yawn and look at their phones/watches wishing each minute would pass a hundred times faster. A mountain of high sugar snacks with a mere mouse-sized nibble taken from them will be thrown into the FOOD WASTE BIN (upon my insistence).
The real birthday is on July 19th, but another party is taking place the weekend before that. There was a party last weekend too. Parents have been whining about having to attend 3 parties in a row (don't blame them, two of the parties are joint, so 5 presents in 3 weeks!).
My friend has been very organised, she designed the invites, wrote numerous lists, Googled and got quotes from all the entertainers in a 25 mile radius and has been buying lots of decorative bits and pieces. My (would-be) mother in law has organised the party bags, a cake, bought new shirts for the boys and generally thought about EVERYTHING.
Me? I shall shake off the low self-esteem about 20 minutes before the party, put on my best smile and 'work the room'. I will talk to all the parents and children, massage the entertainer's ego in the hope of getting the most out of him for his fee. I will clean the place up afterwards and thank the caretaker. My contribution is all last minute, just being there is enough (ahem!)
When I get home, I will start to moan about how stressful and expensive it all was. I will vow not to do it again I won't drink a bottle of Buckfast, I will just be thankful that OH and youngest son's birthdays aren't 'til the end of the year (OH's birthday doesn't count, I'll just make a cake and suggest we watch Commando, his favourite film of all time).
I'm all mainstream celebration-ed out, well - nearly (just a wedding to go). I'm turning into my mum more quickly than I imagined possible. When I start ranting about how ridiculous funerals are (bad for the environment, stupid hymns, tacky flowers...) I'll know that I can fight the metamorphosis no more.
Merry Bloody Christmas!
incidentally, I can't stand Kool and the Gang's 'Celebration'. I used to work in a shop selling hideous clothes and there was one tape played on a loop all day - this was one of the tracks. Every time I hear it; the smell of the customers' sweaty armpits and feet comes back to me and brings a lump of bile to my throat. What will I moan about next...
I won't moan, I'll share this track and video which I really enjoyed (it gets quite creepy from 1:38 on)
** UPDATE ** 'Simon Sparkles' captivated the children for 2 hours. I was rather disappointed to discover that in person, he was pretty nondescript and displayed not the slightest hint that there was a dark side (unlike Mr Tumble). Both adults and children enjoyed the afternoon, with the exception of one boy who asked to go home every five minutes and hid from Mr Sparkles. That boy was my son.