We moved to our cottage eighteen months ago. It was quite a change from a luxury two bed fourth-floor apartment in drop-dead trendy Borough High St to edge of Epping Forest three/four bedroom victorian cottage. We're surrounded by faux-Elizabethan mansions with shiny BMWs, Porsches and Bentley's parked in their drive-thru driveways. It was the first place we looked at at and we both loved it...in my case because it didn't mock the Tudors and in the boy's case he found comfort in a strange similarity to his Mum's home.
Now we're at a time when everyone is having parentally supervised parties for their birthday, we've hit a problem. They all live in grandiose dwellings and you don't step through the front door into the sitting room. To bring them round to our place, with one or two exceptions, would be a humiliation. It's something I understand, having been driven to the same school by my mother in a very tatty fifteen year-old Ford Anglia hand painted in duck egg blue by my brother using a brush from the then equivalent of B&Q. I always wanted her to park round the corner, and when we arrived I shot out faster than Red Rum at the starting gate.
With next birthday looming I thought I'd solved the dilema by suggesting taking a group to the theatre to see Spamalot followed by culinary favourite Pizza Express. He seemed delighted at the suggestion, but a reluctance to reveal a guest list was a sure sign that all was not right. Sure enough and after much coaxing this weekend, he said that this isn't what he wanted...but he did want them down to Brighton. I readily agreed that our annual summer beach patrty, dodging the rain showers in July would be fine, but in May it just wasn't going to happen. So here we are, a fortnight before the big day and nothing planned. I can see tears and tantrums coming, but hopefully by contrast the boy will remain calm and philosophical.