Fifty is a funny age. And by that I mean funny, peculiar, not funny ha-ha. To be honest, I wasn't too worried about my upcoming birthday – I have enough experience, 49 years, to be precise, to know what was going to happen.
One day I would be 49 and 364 days old, the next 50, and the next day 50 and one day, and so on, ad infinitum until I died (hopefully not too fast). It's just another day.
This used to be just about how birthdays were treated.
Fifty years ago my grandmother was 50 and I was her newborn grandchild. The normal service was not interrupted by the arrival of this historic birthday. She didn't even have a few people for a gin.
Mama told me that grandma said fuss was inappropriate. Her husband, my grandfather, probably gave her a decent twin set and a new nightdress. Nothing else. The end.
Kate Spicer (photo) overwhelmed by the idea of blending her generation into a room, decided to cancel her 50th birthday
But the 50th has steadily become a big thing for the spoiled children who raised her children. For generation X, a 50th is significant. It must be marked by a type of event that proves that you still have it.
But how? I had spoken with my dog-walking friend about having a joint party, throwing the benefits of eating and dancing and wondering if our friends would like it.
There was a time when only Elton John gave extravagant parties, but now we all try it. Weddings go on for days. Chicken dos require a week off. Everything is fancy dress.
My 50th would be no different, I wanted to dine like Henry VIII and then enter a room with ticker tape that flows from the ceiling like something from The Great Gatsby.
The big disappointment that this could not be done with my budget meant that I parked the idea for a big bash. I had a party at home, but more than eight people in my flat gathered a health risk. I counted my birthday pen & # 39; s and decided to rent a private room instead for a crunchy lunch.
Despite the blinding reality of checking whether it could be a historic birthday – I would never be a ballet dancer, a mother, a train driver or even get one of those prizes that other journalists always seem to get – I started pulling a fantastic lunch together, for which I would pay for my most beloved friends.
The negronis, the burrata and grilled peaches, the beef, the fish, the vegetarian option, the dessert wine with cake, the carefully planned playlist – all the magic of an epic lunch was on my menu. All magic, that is, except one essential element. The people. I started writing a guest list. As I worried about who would fill my room, the complications of mixing people of my generation overwhelmed me the same way as 40 years earlier.
Kate says some of her friends refuse to mingle with others, meanwhile some are useless in chatting because they exaggerate on alcohol (file image)
I know the Millennials and Gen Z are all sober and sensible, but the way I remember 18th birthday parties was that everyone was sober and shy, and then wasted and lairy.
We were only there to step off and dance together.
Thirty years later, my friends shattered into groups, making the Tory Party factions look like cozy comrades.
First, some refuse to mix completely. The simmering feuds – my God, the feuds. Bob will not be in the same room as Sue; Sue will serve me a kind of declaration of friendship when Jane and Janet are invited; Nigel cannot tolerate Norm without mittens.
A friend replied: "You are a good friend, but sorry, I don't really like your other friends."
Given that we are the generation that waggles with the next generations and complains that they have no manners, these reactions have really taken over.
What have I done to earn such difficult killers for friends? Don't say anything, I know the answer. You get the friends you deserve.
Then there is the dividing line of liquor. I like a drink, as they say. And I don't mind if people have too much of it as long as they're happy with it and I don't need to talk to them for more than 20 seconds.
There must be an infertile spider-sad face emoji
People who exaggerate and then sit and smile with their eyes closed are useless to keep the chat going – almost as useless as those who shout about everyone else.
But this is a little boy compared to those who, sober, are wonderfully happy souls, but whose drinking habits are not well out of date. They scream and take off garments and have to be wrestled by three strong men or a very fierce woman in taxis.
There have always been drunken howls, right, except now they have something to cry about – dead parents, dead friends, divorces, marital Brexit differences, children off the rails, a horrible menopause, soul-expanding guilt, faced with dismissal favor of a five-year-old who will work for tuppence ha & penny for a week.
Our problems are big now. I am not heartless, I am not saying that a perfect birthday party is more important than the sorrow of a friend. When our life gets complicated, we do it too. However, it makes placement difficult.
Kate says they go to 50th birthday parties where sober individuals judge those who drink and people who are cleaned up get upset by party animals (file image)
I have been to a few 50th birthday parties where it would have been more useful to join a team of psychotherapists instead of the lady singing popular aria & # 39; s between courses, or a jazz quartet in the corner of the garden.
The weepers are a known amount. There is a bigger problem when you try to put together a group of awkward 50-year-old egos. That is the recently sober, the ones who are still looking down – no, floating in holier-than-you, po-faced judgment – on the rest of us.
Recently cleaned up types are so easily upset by even the most jovial party beast, it's hell to find out who's wrong.
In the end, however, I did the table planning algebra and compiled my list and sent the invitations to 40 close friends and family. And then a whole new horror rose its ugly head. The & # 39; polite decliners & # 39 ;.
They can't come to my 50th because they count their gold all summer in another country, or they have circled Sundays as special family days that they cannot possibly sacrifice. There must be an infertile spider-sad face emoji.
If I had organized an epic party in a country house with top stars on the guest list, I can guarantee that they would all have been there like a shot. Childcare problems? Which childcare problems?
Kate (photo) says she started to consider why she had to make an effort to organize a birthday celebration when she came to terms with her midlife body
Granted, I left it a little late. I didn't start solving it until last month, when my friend pointed out that my 50th birthday was coming close to me and asked how I would mark this important event.
Sorry I stayed back to the past, but when have people been so incredibly busy?
In the past six weeks was a reasonable time to invite people to something, now you have to send a save-the-date card a year earlier, and even then, if something better comes, most people have a ready excuse to dump you.
In the end, about 20 said yes, which was perfect, but by then I had hit myself in a right old tizz. Forget the big five-oh, make it the big five-oh make me a stiff gin.
As I looked at my mysteriously growing diaphragm and tried to process my new midlife bingo wings, I started to wonder, why, really?
After all, aren't 50th birthdays a bit boring? We can't go crazy because someone can get a heart attack; we can't have sex because everyone is married. I suppose the only thing we could do is drugs, because that seems like a shoo-in for future political success. It was little compensation.
You think about it, my boyfriend said, and he was right. Nevertheless, I hated him. He must have read my mind because he said, "I get the feeling that your family thinks I'm inflicting some kind of domestic violence by not giving you the mother of all the secret birthday parties."
Kate chose to cancel her birthday bash to go to her local with a mix of friends instead, and has started planning her 60th (file image)
I admit that a small, unpleasant and very spoiled part of me felt that it was a violation of my human rights, that I would not be led, blindfolded, pop into a beautiful restaurant with white tablecloths and champagne corks like everyone else I have ever loved (except the crazy exes) and shouted: & # 39; SURPRISE! & # 39;
However, he was right when he said, "I would have done it for you, but I was only wrong." (I know he couldn't really bother him, but as an apology it went flawless.)
Do you know what I did? I called my location and said that those snacks, cocktails, three courses and cake with dessert wine – they cancel. Instead, I sent my friends an e-mail stating that I would be at my room at a specific time and would come if they wanted. If they didn't, no problem.
It was probably the closest that I will ever come to Zen. I felt fine.
And you know what? It was amazing. A mix of friends appeared, they got along well, the one who broke a bit went home, the rest said how nice it was to see so-and-so.
The enemies ignored each other and we laughed. There were no helium balloons, no RSVP's needed, no gladrags, no tantrums and a fairly modest hangover that I fixed by eating birthday cake in bed the next morning.
Now, time to plan my 60th birthday.
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