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The party to end all parties

“Well, I’ve paid for it and the receipt is in my wallet,” I insisted. “It’s at home on top of the stereo.”

Five minutes later my phone rang again. “They’ve found your order. They just haven’t processed it,” Clare said. I could hear the frustration and panic rising in her voice.

So, this was the situation: In four hours’ time 25 children aged between 3 and 9 were going to descend on our local church hall for a joint birthday party for my son  Arun who had just turned seven and Meri who was about to turn five. And we had no cake.

By the time I got home from the swimming lesson, Clare had swept into action. She was furiously making two cakes – a pink iced Victoria sponge for Meri and a chocolate cake for Arun. So, all we had to do in the next four hours was:

  • Pick up uncle Steve and auntie Gabby from the station
  • Take Meri to ballet lessons
  • Get the rest of the food ready
  • Get the paper plates, napkins and cups out
  • Make up the party bags
  • Get the decorations out
  • Wrap the parcel for a game of pass the parcel
  • Take everything to the hall
  • Set it up
  • Let the man with the bouncy castle in
  • Confirm with the children’s entertainer that she can make it
  • Get two very excited children dressed as Tinkerbell and Peter Pan
  • Pray that nothing else went wrong
  • And, ice two freshly baked cakes.

Eight hours later after much bouncing, much eating, much singing, much laughing  and far, far too much excitement there were the inevitable tears before bedtime as Meri sat on  the stairs and protested that, “I don’t (sob) want (sob) my party (sob) to be over (sob). Want (sob) another (sob) party (sob).” And “I want (sob) to open (sob) the rest (sob) of my presents (sob) tonight (sob).”

Having established that my insistence that she could open the rest of her presents tomorrow did, indeed, contravene the United Nations Convention on Human Rights but I didn’t care, she did eventually go to bed and was asleep in minutes.

We all collapsed into the lounge, pie eyed with exhaustion.

“I’m going to open a bottle of Prosecco,” I said. “I think we deserve that. It went ridiculously well.”

“It was great,” said Clare. “We’ve got a job to beat that next year.”

An expletive might have left my lips at this point. “No. I don’t think you understand,” I continued. “They’re not getting another party until they’re 19 and 21. That’s going to be for the one when they leave home.”


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