I don't want to be a brick in a wall. All bricks look the same and they are cemented into place, kept in rigid order. And walls divide. And life is like banging your head...

Common people

Yesterday was Deb's dads' 60th birthday. We held a surprise birthday party for him in the village hall. I say surprise, but his wife had been cooking 5 kilos of pasta salad and 250 mini quiches during the day. I'm sure he suspected something.

The party itself was a typical English night - somewhere between Phoenix nights and Hi-de-di. We played music through a stereo; we played something from every decade since the 50's. We served beer in cans out of plasterers' buckets filled with ice and wine from boxes in plastic glasses. 20 years ago this kind of evening would have been the stuff of nightmares.

I joked with Justin, my brother in law. I asked him what he was going to do for his 40th. He said he'd had a few ideas but he was now considering booking the village hall. We laughed at the preposterousness.

But why not? It was great. We talked about the old days, we got drunk and we danced, in that horrible way that people too old to dance do. The hall was full of kids running around, high on the lateness and the noisiness of it all. As I write it down now it strikes me that this is clear evidence that I am growing up.

We got a taxi home at midnight. Only Isaac had run out of steam. He woke up this morning still in his shirt from last night.

As for the rest of us, Em and Jack slept in late and Deb has a serious hangover. Ironically, I don't. If TS Eliot measured his life out in coffee spoons, mine has been measured in hangovers. I have some very good hangover stories. I can get a hangover just from standing next to a moderate drinker. But this morning I feel great and I am treating Deb to the same sympathy she gives me when I'm hungover; I'm making fun of her and talking about food and alchohol.

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