Tag Archives: birthday

We Could Totally Go on Countdown

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Hello, dear reader!  Are you having a nice Sunday?

My birthday party was yesterday, and it was marvellous.  Lots of friends, Cards Against Humanity and an unholy amount of cake at my house followed by taking over a pub garden for the evening make for a pretty perfect Saturday.  On the trip from my house to the pub we were definitely “those people” on the tube who were being a bit too noisy, but we were also handing out cake to strangers, so I like to think that we balanced ourselves out in terms of transport karma.

One of my favourite things about my wider social circle is that pretty much all of my friends get along with each other, regardless of external factors.  My siblings get on with my uni friends, and my friends from school get on with the person who stole my tricycle at nursery school (and has somehow become one of my closest friends in just twenty-two years).  Last night I sat in a pub garden and looked at my friends chatting, drinking, and climbing on the garden furniture, and I realised how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who like each other (and me, hopefully).

Something else occurred to me about my friends last night: none of us are where we thought we would be at this age.  Geographically we are all pretty much where we expected to find ourselves (i.e. in London), but in terms of career stuff and personal lives I think our mid-twenties have caught us entirely by surprise.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to look at our trajectories since university (for example) and see how far we’ve strayed from our original ambitions.  We are, like Moss caught up in the dark underworld of Countdown, not exactly who or where we thought we would be.

I think that that’s amazing, particularly because so many of my nearest and dearest are drama types who could feasibly have been forced to abandon their dreams because of discouragement, money and other nasty things.  Thankfully none of us have, and if anything we are more enthusiastic about our dreams now that we’ve lived in the real world for a bit.  We know more about how we’re going to get where we want to be.

Now, how does one go about being on Countdown?…

I hope you have the kind of Sunday dinner that would make Gordon Ramsey weep with joy.

Let’s Kid Ourselves

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Good morning, lovely reader!  How’re you doing on this fine Friday?

Thank you very much for the birthday wishes yesterday; I had a really lovely day, and feel thoroughly spoilt.  I do not, however, feel twenty-five.  A few people have said “ooh, this is your last big birthday before thirty!” which I think is a lie based on the fact that humans like nice, round numbers, i.e. multiples of five.  This is a nice birthday for sure, but if I want to make my twenty-seventh birthday a “big” one, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll do it, convention be damned.  Two years from now we will all be meeting for afternoon birthday tea at the Ritz, OR running around a fairground that includes at least one bouncy castle and some dodgems. (No clowns, though.  Definitely, DEFINITELY no clowns.)

But this is the problem, as you can see from my two top party choices: everything in a twenty-something’s life comes back to trying to decide whether to be a grown-up or a child.  When is it ok to be silly, and when do we have to be on our best behaviour?

I am currently working on a really exciting digital project with two lovely lads, both of whom have a lot of expertise in creative and technical production.  They are perceptive, talented and passionate people who are an absolute joy to work with.  They are also old friends of mine who share a ludicrous sense of humour and the tendency to enjoy silly voices, so you can see why we all get on so well.  Anyway, we had a meeting a couple of weeks ago about the project, which was a seriously mature affair.  We took minutes, for crying out loud.  In the midst of a very technical, important, official discussion about equipment and release forms etc., one of the boys said “oh my God, this is so grown-up!” and the other immediately started singing a little song that went “we’re grown-ups, we’re grown-ups”, complete with hand-clapping.

So obviously as soon as we realise that we’re being adults, we feel compelled to do something to return to our childish roots.  Whenever I discover that someone my age is getting married, it immediately makes me want to balance out the universe by eating a McDonald’s Happy Meal (or something).  When I find out that someone my age has gone clubbing in Watford on a Friday night, it drives me to read a furniture assembly instruction manual.  We are grown-ups or big kids depending on the occasion, and I think that that’s absolutely fine, for two reasons:

1) We are supposed to be enjoying our lives.  As long as we can separate the silly moments from the serious, why do we have to behave a certain way all of the time?  Why can’t Ash and I impersonate the bunnies from Gnomeo and Juliet when we want to?  Not that we ever do that.  Ahem.

2) No matter how grown-up we get, we will never be completely free of our younger selves.  People who are married, buying houses and having kids still say that they feel like they’re pretending to be adults, and that they’re playing at being responsible.  There is a surreal and scary quality to adult life that we have to defend ourselves against by letting out the childish impulses once in a while.  Perfect example: my dad started his day at 8am by running down the stairs singing “tra la la!” very, very loudly and for no discernible reason.  The man is knocking on sixty and he’s still got time for childish behaviour, so I think the rest of us can give ourselves a break.

Have a spectacular Friday.  I hope that your post-work social plans are the highlight of your week.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Byrne

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Hello, dear reader!  How are you?

Today I turned 25, which is lovely because I have an excuse to eat lots of cake and do pretty much whatever I like (within the limits of physics, morality and the law, obviously).  Having said that, I am not actually very good at birthdays.  This is for three reasons:

1) The paranoia: will my friends turn up to my party?  Do they still like me?  Have they decided in the last twelve hours that none of them can be bothered to trek to North London for cake and scones?!  …Actually, what am I saying?  My friends would walk through fire to get to cake.

2) The perfection crisis: I think we all do this.  On our birthdays we expect perfect weather, green traffic lights, punctual public transport and shiny, healthy-looking hair.  It’s the one day of the year when everything is supposed to go our way.  People who are angry with us should automatically forgive us, we shouldn’t have to go to work and frankly the washing up can be left ’til tomorrow.  (That’s such a lie.  I’m definitely going to do the washing up once I’ve finished this.)

3) I have been known, upon  hearing the greeting “Happy Birthday!” to accidentally utter “thanks, you too” in response.

Luckily, I share my birthday with some awesome people who are better at this stuff than I am (and if they wished me a happy birthday, that embarrassing response would actually make sense):

  • Ed Byrne: one of my favourite Irish comedians, who also happens to be BFFs with Dara O’Briain and has some brilliant stories about him, such as this one.  I’ve met Ed Byrne (as you can see from the picture), and he’s lovely.  I hope he’s having a brilliant day.  (Milton Jones is lovely as well, so I hope his birthday is nice, whenever it is.)
  • Alex Pettyfer: you know him, the guy with the face who was in that film.  Yeah, him.  Apparently people tell my friend Ben that he looks a lot like Alex Pettyfer, but I think Ben has a less grumpy/confused-looking face, which is good.  (In fact, you can judge for yourself – he’s the blond chap in the picture.)  Happy birthday Alex; do try to crack a smile.
  • Mandy Moore: I always think that I should hate her, but I don’t.  She was very funny in Scrubs, she was excellent in Tangled and in general she seems alright at what she does.  So why do I want to hate her?  I don’t know.  Sorry, Mandy.  Have a nice birthday.
  • Theodosius II: born 401 AD, he became Emperor of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire at the age of seven.  That is one heck of a birthday present.
  • Vincent Jaskowski: not a famous man (although he should be, purely based on his generosity and ability to do strange voices), but one of my closest friends and the person who deserves to have the best birthday of us all.

Have a stupendously lovely day (even if it isn’t your birthday), and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, cake will find you somehow.

 

It’s Only Monday

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Good morning and welcome to the new week!

Lots of people hate Mondays, including Garfield, the Bangles and the Boomtown Rats.  I personally quite like them, for the same reason that I love early mornings: the potential.  The beginning of something is always full of possibilities to explore and opportunities not yet taken.  Inevitably, Mondays (and early mornings) are also riddled with moments of clumsiness, missed trains and coffee spillages, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the good stuff yet to come that’s worth thinking about.  Who knows what this week might hold?

This time of year is a bit of an odd one, because British people’s moods are almost solely dictated by the weather: some people are a bit blue because it’s so chilly and there’s a lot of damage to be fixed after the floods, whereas others are tilting their faces towards the lukewarm sunshine and thinking dreamily of summer.  It is technically British Summer Time now…but we have to show some self-control.  Put down the deck chairs; we’ve got a few months and several degrees to go.

Apparently, people have always tended to be feeling a bit extreme around this date.  Whether these were all on Mondays or just end-of-March madness we’ll never know, but let’s look at some examples:

1603: After about a year of watching her closest mates drop dead one by one, Queen Elizabeth I succumbs to peer pressure and follows suit.  After forty-four and a half years on the throne she must be knackered, poor thing.

1832: Mormon Joseph Smith is beaten, tarred and feathered in Ohio.  I know I should be appalled by that, but actually it just made me giggle.  It’s the idea of a religious fanatic running around covered in feathers; how on earth could anyone take that zealous lunatic seriously after that?

1837: Canada gives black people the right to vote.  This is pretty amazing, especially when you consider the fact that America took another thirty-three years and a civil war to come to the same decision.  Good for you, Canada.

1882: German scientist Robert Koch announces the discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.  The disease has been considered hereditary until this point, but Koch’s work discovers the truth (and wins him a Nobel prize in 1905, and undoubtedly saves a heck of a lot of lives).

1906: A census of the British Empire reveals that Britain rules a fifth of the world.  Slightly awkward to look back at now, but is beautifully summarised by this Eddie Izzard clip.

1972: Northern Ireland’s Parliament is suspended after the prime minister resigns.  Britain’s direct rule over Northern Ireland is introduced.  This is just getting embarrassing.

1973: This one isn’t an example of March madness by any means, but on this day The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons is born.  He is looking very well for someone who hit the big four-one today, I must say.

I hope you enjoyed your miniature history lesson.  May your Monday turn out to contain all sorts of amazing things, such as the legendary all-chocolate Kit Kat.

Get Thee to a Wetherspoons

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Hello, lovely reader.  How are you?  Have you completed your challenge to take a chance yet?  I’m about to do mine and I’m terrified, so don’t worry about it too much.

My birthday is coming up soon, and the plan for the day is to get a load of friends round, eat a lot of cake and then go to the pub.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It won’t be.  I haven’t chosen a pub yet.  I was seriously considering the Montague Pyke in Piccadilly, because it’s large, central and pretty cheap, but I’ve been shouted down by some friends of mine who have better taste (and more experience of the Montague Pyke) than I do.  The hunt continues for a large, central, cheap pub in London.  And for my missing pet unicorn, Ephraim.

I know that I’m a “grown up” now, and I should have acquired a taste for the finer (or at least less rubbish) things in life, but deep down I’m still a student and my heart belongs to Wetherspoons pubs.  Here are five reasons why:

1) Consistency
Any Wetherspoons in any part of the country serves the same drinks, food and surly sarcasm.  You know where you stand with a Wetherspoons menu.  Even in the farthest flung corner of the British Isles (Inverness), I can tell you for a fact that the only difference between that menu and the ones in my local is the addition of neeps and tatties as a side.

2) Price
So it’s not the most glamorous place in the world.   You won’t come across any sultry jazz music or atmospheric lighting in a Wetherspoons pub, but you will be able to buy a pint without remortgaging your internal organs.  I don’t really care if there’s a group of asshats making too much noise in the booth next door, or the toilets are a ten minute walk away; the beer is cheap.

3) The toilets are a ten minute walk away
Which is good for you.  Exercise and all that.

4) Something for everyone
I feel very, very sorry for my friends, because going out for dinner with me is a nightmare.  My dietary requirements include a lethal (and I mean lethal) allergy, an intolerance of casein (because lactose is too mainstream, apparently), and a lifestyle choice to give up carbs.  It’s a wonder that my friends can even look at me sometimes, let alone sit in a restaurant with me.  But in a Wetherspoons, all of that goes away: the extensive menu has something for everyone, no matter what kind of allergy/faddy diet/craving you’re restricted by.  Problem solved.

5) Remember the good times
Remember that story about a friend of mine who re-enacted the Stations of the Cross with a burger, chips and excessive ketchup?  (It’s here if you’re floundering – don’t feel bad, I tell a lot of stories and most of them involve a slightly strange friend.)  That is just one of literally hundreds of happy memories I have that took place in a Wetherspoons pub.  From the New Crown in my beloved Southgate to the Westgate Inn in Canterbury (hour for hour I think spent more time in there than I did on my university campus), and back to where it all began in the Wetherspoons pubs of Watford and Rickmansworth: I owe Wetherspoons some of the best nights (and mornings after) of my life.  Christmas Eve with my best mate doing uni essays, inventing very complicated drinking games that involved stealing books, meeting some of my now closest friends, falling in love, getting into arguments, re-enacting stuff with food (it became a recurring issue), laughing until we cried: all of the best and most ridiculous things in my life have happened to me in a Wetherspoons pub.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s fun.

So.  Where shall we go for lunch?