Everyone knows how it feels to plan a birthday party. Planning any party is stressful - making sure that your best mate’s ex-boyfriend doesn’t turn up; making sure your best mate’s ex-boyfriends best mate doesn’t turn up; making sure everyone who does eventually get invited actually likes each other – so when it’s your actual birthday celebrations you’re trying to organise it usually becomes apparent that the easy (hell, the only) way out is to head for a quiet drink down the local boozer with only your Nan for company, drowning your one-year-older sorrows in a pint of cheap wine and eating packet after packet of cheese and onion crisps.
This bail-out has unfortunately happened too often to me over the years. Gone are the days when my long-suffering Mum took care of all the party arrangements: invitations to every person in the class were sent out nice and early (and all the kids would turn up whether they liked you or not, dragged by fed up mum’s that were only interested in quaffing wine with other mothers that could sympathise about piles of washing and constant temper tantrums that comes part and parcel with rearing children); birthday cakes would come awash with candles, as if sent by angels above; everyone would leave with a party bag and a sticky grin, souped up on all manner of e-numbers.
Nowadays I must plan my own parties, and whereas for the past five years I have hidden away, only popping out for a swifty in the local with a few close mates, this year I decided to do something a bit special, for no real reason other than I would be celebrating entering the wrong side of the twenties. Shudder.
Each and every person I invited to my party had different requirements: my best mate wanted it to be relatively local, because her Christian Laboutins wouldn’t travel well in the predicted foot of snow that was going to thunder down on London that evening; my boyfriend wanted grub, and good grub, not just pub grub; my best mate’s boyfriend needed it to be relatively cheap, as splurging lots of money on a party when holding down a self-employed job would be impossible; and I have to be honest, I just wanted everyone to stop making stupid requests and just enjoy themselves.
Ideas were thrown about the table:
The Foundation: a trendy, funky bar in the middle of Covent Garden, that promised great cocktails and friendly staff, was quickly declined by my friends because of the time it would take to get there.
Similarly, interest was shown and then dismissed with Gem, a cocktail bar between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, because of where it was, and the restaurant Cats in Finsbury Park was thrown out of discussions because it wasn’t lively enough.
Just what was a girl to do? Decide on a place that offered both food and drink and don’t consult anyone else. Text message invitations were swiftly sent out and feet were thoroughly stamped down.
The Sugar Lounge in Finsbury Park, a short trot from the train station (and for that we were eternally thankful as the skies did decide to open and spew thick snow over the whole of the country): a restaurant that served Turkish food, mojitos by the shed load, and didn’t oppose our drunken wailing and dancing atop tables. Everyone was happy – the decision was taken out of arguing hands – and I left one-year older and not a whole lot wiser, leaving snow angels in my wake. Thanks, The Sugar Lounge.