SOME people want to have a wild party to celebrate their 50th birthday with a bang.
They want lots of friends around them in a big marquee, with loud music and balloons.
Not me. Perhaps I’m getting boring in my advancing years, but I just wanted to go somewhere quiet to disappear and relax with the family who’ve put up with me writing about them in this column for the past 22 years.
My wife did me proud. She booked a nice hotel in the Lake District for us all and that suited me perfectly.
An hour’s drive to Glenridding and we were having afternoon tea at the Inn on The Lake overlooking the shimmering tranquillity of Ullswater.
Then a short climb over the Kirkstone Pass – surely one of he most spectacular roads in Britain – to Ambleside.
We were able to rediscover what it’s like to be a complete family, without at least one of our four children being away at university. We swam in the hotel pool, sweated in the sauna, and squeezed into the outdoor hot-tub.
As we chatted amidst the bubbles, I was reminded of the time the kids were little and we all invaded another hotel jacuzzi, which was occupied by rather overweight chap.
“Mummy,” said six-year-old Jack, a little too loudly, “That man’s got bigger boobies than you.”
No such embarrassments this time. The next day, we took a boat ride up Windermere to Bowness, ambled round the shops for a few hours, then sailed back. Nothing hurried – just beautiful, peaceful surroundings.
In the evening, we had a meal in one of my favourite restaurants, Zefirellis, in Ambleside. It comes with a small cinema attached and we chose to see a film called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – about a group of characters who go to India to stay in a hotel which especially caters for “the elderly and the beautiful”.
It’s a lovely, gentle comedy – at least that’s what I was told. You see, I find that one of the consequences of reaching a half-century is that it’s increasingly hard to stay awake in the cinema.
My wife knows me too well: “Don’t fall asleep,” she said, as we took our seats. But there’s nothing I can do.
It’s always the same these days.
Within minutes of a film starting, I feel like I’ve run a marathon and my eyelids become heavier than Simon Cowell’s wallet. I fight to keep them open but it’s no good.
It’s the same with Match of the Day. I really, really want to watch the football but I simply can’t help nodding off, no matter how exciting the action might be.
By the time I regained consciousness, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was halfway through. I enjoyed what I saw, but had to spend the walk back to our own hotel asking questions about the first half.
Perhaps this is what the future holds. Films become shorter and shorter until all you see are the words “The End”.
THE THINGS DADS DON’T SAY
THE trip to the Lakes coincided with the Grand National and I managed to resist the temptation to tell my wife she should back a horse called Always Right. At 50 years of age, I’ve learned when to keep my mouth shut.
THE THINGS KIDS SAY
COLLEAGUE Nigel Burton was driving through Darlington when sixyear- old son Jack spotted a youth sitting disconsolately on a roundabout.
“What’s that man doing?” he asked.
“Probably having a cigarette,” Nigel replied.
“What’s a cigarette dad?” came the inevitable question.
“He’s just smoking,” explained Nigel, impatient to get home.
“I couldn’t see his bonfire,” replied Jack.
AT Norton Methodist Guild, Sheila Gale remembered the time they were casting for the nativity play at Sunday school. A little boy called Jack was keen to be Joseph but the teacher told him she’d rather he played a shepherd.
“Oh goody,” replied Jack, “I love shepherd’s pie.”
KATHLEEN Mee was once a teacher at Low Grange Infants School in Billingham and she recalled how her name always bamboozled one little girl, who persisted in calling her “Mrs You”.