Tuesday, 11 May 2021

From party pooper to... party super!

SO it was the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old’s birthday party last weekend — a joint venture organised with the Loveliest Neighbour In The World, whose son has also just turned eight.

Of course, when I say “organised with”, I obviously mean organised by the Loveliest Neighbour In The World. Because it’s a well-known fact that organisation is not exactly my forte.

Indeed, I’d go so far as to say organisation is almost like Kryptonite to me — one mere mention of the word and my knees buckle, making me fall to the floor. I clasp my hands over my ears, screw up my face and scream, ‘NOOOOOOOOOO!’ at the very thought.

So I wasn’t as shocked as everyone else by my being late to the scout hall to set up at 10 o’clock on a soggy Sunday morning but even I was surprised by the depths to which my organisational abilities have apparently sunk.

We’d decided to put on an old-school party, you see — not an old school party, with tipsy teachers supervising bolshy kids spiking the punch and smoking in the loos — no, a party like kids used to have back in the days before mobile phones and Laser Quest. Parties like we had when we were eight-year-olds.

Because who has the time, money and indeed the wherewithal to put on a party at, say, the local trampoline park?

It might sound easy, as if you just hand over the cash and someone else does all the dirty work for you, but you have to organise the cake (massive job) and in the end I don’t think you even get your money’s worth when you consider how stressed you are for those two hours, helicoptering around everyone else’s kids in case one of them garrottes themselves on an enormous stray spring.

Then, even after you’ve shelled out and smiled so hard you’ve knocked a tooth out, you get home only to find the birthday child going into an encephalitic shock because they didn’t get the Pokémon cards they wanted. I mean, honestly!

So we decided to take it down a few notches and keep it simple.

Who doesn’t remember with fondness playing pin the tail on the donkey or blind man’s buff? Those good old days when only one person “won” at pass the parcel and got the “gift” (i.e. a kazoo or something equally small, plastic and bound to break in mere seconds) and you didn’t roll the dice for the old cutting-up-a-family-block-of-dairy- milk-with-a-knife-and-fork-with-gloves-on via an app on some kid’s phone!

We were going back to basics this year — and it was a resounding success.

The Eleventeen-Year-Old really came into her own, displaying a level of maturity and sophistication rare in one so normally narky and actively disinterested in anything to do with her little bro.

There were only a few tantrums over the week it took for her to make the nine-layered, gargantuan, 20 bottles of yellow food colouring Pikachu cake — once when Cookie slobbered all over a sponge cake cooling on a rack atop the Rangemaster in an attempt to gobble the whole lot down in one go; once when the cake was so big and unwieldy that it broke into a million pieces on its way out of the oven on to the kitchen bench (via Cookie’s mouth) and the biggest one when the local Co-op ran out of Betty Crocker icing.

But she handled each challenging situation with her customary aplomb (aka screaming like a banshee) and the cake turned out beautifully in the end. A real showstopper, in fact, delighting kids and adults alike.

The Ex really stepped up to the plate, too — and not just to scoff his fab home-made sausage rolls, either. He not only slaved over a hot stove to make the aforementioned rolls, he also made two parcels for passing with a huge bag of Haribo in between every layer of wrapping. It was proper posh wrapping paper, too, not just yesterday’s fish and chip paper.

He made the pin the tail on the donkey game, brought his music system and swept the scout hall when all was said and done.

There was really nothing left for me to do. Except maybe mop the floors but the Loveliest Neighbour got to the mop first. Imagine my disappointment.

But that’s another story…

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