Saturday, 18 January 2014


I went to my Goddaughter's fifth birthday party today in a community centre just off Columbia Road. I genuinely don't know how parents deal with these sorts of occasions. Planning a children's birthday party is like organising an epic film shoot. There's so much to think about; entertainment, the safety of children, catering for a million different eating disorders, the glorious cake, the tantrums, the decorations, the princess dresses, the doggy bags for the kids to take home...

I was quite exhausted just watching twenty children jumping up and down whilst screaming so loudly my ears started swimming with harmonics. Imagine then going home and the noise continuing to bedtime?

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly Dylan's "Smash Cake", which was essentially the edible equivalent of a piƱata. Dylan had actually tempered his own chocolate dome which was filled with sweeties. I'm told the experience nearly sent him mad, but the result was a beautiful-looking hollow cake. Deia was handed a rolling pin, which she used to whack the crap out of the chocolate dome. The dome shattered and revealed the sweeties inside. The astonishing aspect, however, was the way the kids responded to the sight of the sweets. It was like a vulture feeding frenzy. Forty little knees in twenty pink and lilac dresses descended on the scene and when they retreated, just 20 seconds later, every last scrap of chocolate or sweetie had disappeared. All that remained of Dylan's cake was a lone spilt bottle of bubble essence which had been dropped in the rush for sugar. Hysterical!

We went back to Philippa's afterwards and a second round of total carnage was triggered by Deia opening my birthday present - a vat of make-your-own slime - which turned the kitchen floor into a skating rink. At one stage, Deia asked if she could take all her clothes off and literally slide like a snail through the sludge, which by now also included two vials of chemical snow and a piece of birthday cake!

The birthday cake itself had been made by Dylan's mother, Janina, who is Dutch, and tells me that they don't really do birthday cakes in Holland. "They're too lazy," she said, with typical Dutch frankness. She is a wonderful artist, however, and her cakes are legendary. Philippa and Dylan's wedding cake was the most beautiful I've ever seen, and even included a line (written in icing) which Dylan had sung in my film about the A1; "If I cycled 300 miles, I would be in Darlington. Strange to think I grew up on the same road as my future wife. She lived in Holloway. Two different worlds united by this road." Strangely, as I write this, I am on a 43 bus at the exact spot where we filmed the sequence with Dylan on his little bicycle.

Today's cake was a garden scene, complete with a pond, a lawn, and scores of little marzipan birds and insects. It's always a shame to cut into them.

I'm heading home to do nothing. Nothing at all, except maybe watch a little telly. I'm Manchester-bound at 7.50am tomorrow!

I know I shouldn't get annoyed at this sort of thing, but the bus I'm on currently has three children on it who must be amongst the most irritating in the world. They're screaming, literally screaming, and Mummy is doing nothing to shut them up. She's far too middle class to tell them off in public. "Tilly wants her Hello Kitty pencil..." Is being repeated by one of them, who is stamping her foot and encouraging her sisters to join in. Mummy is trying to get them to sing the Okey Cokey. It's bloody annoying and frankly, Tilly needs to learn to stop talking about herself in the third person.

It is not appropriate to allow your children to behave like this in enclosed public spaces, particularly when the bus you're on has taken an hour and a half to drive from Old Street to Highgate. I didn't realise how stressed I was until I got off the bus and realised every last muscle in my body was clenched!

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