So I’m just getting to bed, a little topsy mind you, but I think you’ll excuse me, as tonight was my Birthday party.

Actually, the term party is not how I would choose to describe the event at all. A party would at the very least require the music to be several decibels louder than the sensible volume it was tonight. But I don’t really want to call it a ‘gathering’ either because that sounds like something you might go to when you’re old. It might just be though, that I am approaching the age where I am invited to more gatherings than parties, having just turned thirty four.

The celebrations of this event took the form of an ‘open house’ at my apartment from around 4pm onward. Various friends arrived, not hoards though as some were ill, unavailable or plain old skint (British slang word for ‘short of funds’). Besides which, when you’re thirty four you have to accept that your collection of friends has usually thinned somewhat as through the years you’ve lost touch with people and shaken off the hangers on who always seemed to arrive at parties in your twenties whether invited or not.

For the open house I had purchased what I considered to be far too much alcohol (about $80 worth). Too much because many of the people attending would be driving, and having to get home relatively early so as to excuse the babysitter, another sure trait of the thirty-something years. Indeed, despite the availability of an impressive selection of beverages to chose from no drank anything other than tea and coffee until after about seven o’clock, at which time the music did not get any louder and the drinks that were being enjoyed were being enjoyed at a very pedestrian pace.

Everyone sat around chatting and laughing in my lounge that would ordinarily only seat four adults comfortably, but was now playing host to more than double its allotted capacity. More people were due to meet us later at the restaurant that I had booked for the occasion.

Just before eight o’clock we all went into my small back garden and watched what has become a customary firework display that last year caused an old man to come to complain that the noise was “scaring the women and the dogs!” No such complaints this year though, which surprised me because ‘Orange Andy had brought with him a large box of fireworks leftover from bonfire night (November 5th).

The display lacked the organisation and grace of anything you would expect to see anywhere else, mainly die to the fact that lighting the fuses of the fireworks was difficult due to the wind and darkness. Nonetheless the sky was lit up to the chorus of the occasional “ooooh” and “ahhh” of my friends, along with the customary bangs, whistles and pops one might expect from fireworks. Fifteen minutes we set of for the restaurant and all was quiet, much to the relief of the local woman and dogs I assume.

At the restaurant we were to be joined by three others, but Steve and Nerice had to cancel at the very last minute as Nerice is five months pregnant and had fallen ill. Elizabeth-anne turned up though, smiling and complaining about the lack of parking in Heswall as I introduced her to the people she didn’t know.

It was great to have ten of my best friends all in the same place chatting and exchanging amusing anecdotes. From ‘Football Philly’ to Elizabeth-anne, Posh to Joelle, my Brother to Darryl Waterhouse, some of these people would ordinarily never have met and it was just wonderful to sit back and watch everyone having a great time. We ate gloriously prepared food that look more like gastronomical works of art yet somehow left us satisfied and full. Then, thanks to Posh and very much to my surprise, the waitress brought a cake to the table backed in the shape of a computer and topped with sparklers, as everyone sang a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ with other people in the restaurant looking on and smiling. We were the last to leave the restaurant but I am quite sure we could have stayed there a lot longer.

Most people came back to my apartment and helped make some inroads into my unusually impressive selection of drinks (after the obligatory ‘cup-of-tea’ that was made to warm us up as we arrived, such is the English way). As the night drew on, later than many had planned, one by one they began to leave.

It was by all accounts a most enjoyable evening, not wild by any standards, but one which I will certainly remember with fondness.