I think I'll save the neighbours' Belgathon for tomorrow when the raw emotion has subsided a little (throwing thongs at Johnny Halliday, people. I have much to relate).
And of course, there ain't no party like a soft play party 'cause a soft play party don't stop. Or start. Or something. Look how much fun Lashes is having in this windowless jerrybuilt warehouse hitting things with a plastic hammer!
That strip lighting. It gladdens your heart, doesn't it?
We were really quite shameful parents all round this year. Having failed to give either child a birthday party, as confessed recently, we have shoved them together into this cheap excuse for fun, limited them to 5 invitees each and party duration to a convention flouting two hours (two and a half is the union approved minimum). We did this even before we realised it was the neighbours' party of doom the night before, but we were terribly glad when we did realise. Soft play centres are trying at the best of times, and when your blood is 85% alcohol, they become a very special variant on purgatory, complete with the high pitched squeals of ten year old girls, lost children that do not even belong to you, and popcorn stuck to your cheek as you try and catch a tiny catnap on the table. We feared the worst.
Entirely predictably, we were hopeless. During those scant two hours, I skulked around trying to avoid getting hit in the face with foam blocks and spilling coffee over myself, and the CFO took terrible pictures. Occasionally we would bang into each other, look haunted and make guttural sounds, then split up again. The children got on with doing whatever acts of depravity took their fancy entirely unfettered by adult supervision. And you know what? It was fine. None of them even noticed how shit it was.
The girl in the foreground on the right is one of my future daughters in law, Fingers' "amoureuse". Both my future daughters in law attended, since it appears that one of the quirks of Belgian school is that it forces you to choose a future spouse before the age of 6. Everyone is doing it, apparently. Anyway, it gives me time to quiz them on their career plans and their attitude towards animals and cake and PG Wodehouse and the West Lothian question.
Here I am trying to trick my other future daughter in law into telling me her voting intentions. Look at that body language! I am not quite ready to welcome her into the family yet, am I?
Anyway. Everyone who was supposed to have fun had fun. There were virtually no tears and we did not lose anyone or anything. I did not spend the whole time having chest exploding palpitations about my elaborate party planning getting fucked up. There's a lesson in there somewhere but I will almost certainly fail to heed it.
*Does the name not say it all? It does.