Dot writes: the long-expected birthday has come at last, and so has the party that Hugh has been planning for at least ten months, complete with a fabulous dinosaur cake made by Julie and her boyfriend Gerard. The big boy attained the grand age of five (it doesn’t seem possible, surely it’s only yesterday etc) on Thursday and went bouncing into school exclaiming “I’m a birthday boy! I’m a birthday boy!” Saturday was the day of the party. Ken spent the morning mowing the lawn and then putting up a trampoline which was a present from my parents when they visited last week. Julie and I prepared food (I insisted on making the cupcakes this time; I wanted to be responsible for a glamorous contribution) and cleaned and tidied, somewhat against the odds given the ready supply of grass-clippings and pieces of newly-acquired lego.
At 2.30 promptly the guests started to arrive. I notice that children’s parties are the one type of social event that can be relied on to start at the advertised time. Pity I was still hoovering the living room when the door went. Anyway, we had seven young guests, including my friend Aura’s two children and also Hugh’s classmate Ella who spent the first hour at a different birthday party, such is the social whirl she enjoys. I had cleared most of the toys into the boys’ bedroom so there would be room in the living-room for party games. Needless to say, the children almost immediately decided that toys were more interesting than party games and decamped upstairs. One game that was a big success was a dinosaur hunt. I had bought a pack of tiny dinosaurs from Early Learning Centre and Ken distributed them round the garden. The little boys (it was all boys at this stage) searched for them enthusiastically and then repaired, even more enthusiastically, to the trampoline. And then we had the birthday tea, at which the chunks of pineapple and cheese on sticks which I had insisted on providing in a spirit of tradition were universally ignored but the cake was, as expected, a very big hit.