The bloke has the misfortune to celebrate his birthday on the day after Valentine’s, otherwise known as the Bogus Holiday Which Shall Not Be Mentioned In His Presence. This year is his 30th.
The Great Organisation started innocuously enough. I polled his friends to see if they’d be able to come to London for the party. I didn’t have any grand plan in mind other than getting a bunch of people together, as I know he’s a far more social animal than I am and loves a crowd. Then someone suggested that we do something a bit special.
“A bit special” turned into quite a lot, and keeping it secret for the past few weeks has been a logistical nightmare. (I made a goddamned spreadsheet. For a party. I've never done that in my life.) Especially since he kept asking questions about whether or not I’d invited certain people. Finally I had to tell him to stop trying to ruin it for himself and just accept that everything was under control.
He came down from Cambridge on Friday. We went to a little pub near Kings Cross where we met the first of the friends who’d come from quite far out of town to be there. A mere single pint into the evening, we received an omen of the rocking weekend to come when the bartender announced that he was about to do the drawings for the raffle. First prize in the raffle: The Tower of Temptation, featuring three boxes of chocolates and one of wine & champagne. The bloke loves a little flutter now and then, so we got ourselves some tickets for £1.
We won the Tower of Temptation.
In order to avoid being lynched by the locals, we offered round the chocolates, which went a little way to calming some ill tempers.
The next day, we lay in with the papers, bacon sandwiches and coffee until it was time to head to Borough Market to meet his family. His sister, bless her, came down from Leeds just for the afternoon to help out with being part of the diversion. After coffee and cake at the Market, I was delighted when the bloke suggested it would be nice to take a stroll along the South Bank because the weather was so nice. I agreed, attempting to conceal my delight. We went to a pub that just happened to be showing the France-Scotland match (that’s 6 nations rugby, my fellow Merkins). It wasn’t easy to get everyone to motivate in the correct direction once the match was finished after a couple of pints of ale. I ended up having to dash off to the London Eye office to get us checked in.
I’m pretty sure he didn’t know that 25 of his friends and family had shown up to drink champagne in a private capsule until he was guided to the meeting spot. He’d never been on the Eye before, and we had a glorious clear night for our half-hour “flight”. I didn’t bring my camera for fear of ruining the surprise. I’m rather glad of this because if I’d been concentrating on taking pictures, I doubt I would have enjoyed the scenery or my champagne quite so much.
We herded everyone onto the Bakerloo line to go to Ping Pong for dim sum. At the restaurant, the bloke was surprised by yet more lovely friends who couldn’t stay for dinner but wanted to wish him Happy Birthday anyway. My handbag began to strain at the seams with gifts and cards. After successfully stuffing ourselves with lychee drinks, little steamed buns and beer, we headed off to dizzykj’s club. Yet more friends arrived. It all kicked off in style, with espresso martinis and decorous behaviour, and ended with a glitter-covered bloke crowd-surfing the dance floor and most of our friends standing on chairs. I also recall having to order him not to take his trousers off several times. I was so exhausted by the time the club shut at 3 AM that I burst into tears for no apparent reason. It wasn’t until we got home that I discovered this was at least in part because I fell down the stairs and twisted my ankle. It is currently still swollen and an interesting shade of purple.
Astonishingly, we managed to get ourselves out of bed for noon the next day and meet family (including parents this time) for a pub lunch, cake and several rounds of Lego Star Wars on the Xbox. We concluded from this experience that there’s nothing that a good Bloody Mary won’t sort out.
I had a blast, but if this is what planning a wedding is like, then count me out.