I USED to love birthdays. Particularly those big ones with a zero on the end. The ones when your boss would send you home early to have a quiet family celebration…only for all hell to let loose when you opened the front door.
One moment, silence and slight concern that nobody was in. Then, as you peered into the deserted hall, an explosion of noise as doors flew open, laughing faces appeared from nowhere, the kids rushed into your arms - and 100 voices burst into a chorus of you know what.
The party would go on forever as you ate, drank (too much) and caught up with the lives of surprise visitors from out of town and friends you’d all but lost touch with. Your boss and the colleagues who had masterminded the show would turn up after work and the party would go on through the night.
Yes, life was fun at 40…and blowing the candles out was a piece of cake.
How times change. Birthdays used to take forever to come round, yet I swear I’ve had four of them this year.
And the only good thing about the damned things is that if they keep coming, you know you are still alive.
I’d better amend that, because I don’t want my friends and to think I'm not going to enjoy our little celebration this weekend. Around 15 of us are taking our zimmer frames, hearing aids and skin tucks for a bit of a bash in Guardamar. It isn’t going to be a night at the Hilton, but the Portico Mar is considerably more salubrious than one or two of my previous birthday bashes,
Like when I opted for the bustle and boom of Vicente Jaen’s chaotic restaurant, where plates of freebie food fly at you from all angles before you even give your order – and then you are submerged by enough food to fill a herd of starving elephants.
There’s no written bill and the only till is the wad of notes tucked away in Vicente’s pocket. It’s all a bit of a shambles, really…but as irresistible as the march of time. Not the Ritz, more of the Pits, really - but the chaos is pure magic.
It was all good fun and great to have so much support in the absence of my family, who are all in the UK.
One thing I did notice in the haze of alcohol (two gin and tonics - I can’t even get drunk these days) was that there were no candles on the cake.
Perhaps Restaurant Jaen is a no-blow zone, I thought. Because I could definitely have seen off all those little sticks of flaming wax. Well, three or four anyway. I can only eat a few in one sitting.