Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Tonight I'm gonna party like its 1999!
Kids’ parties have always been big business and often the highlight of a child’s birthday. Who doesn’t remember a clown coming to your local village hall or Dave’s Disco setting up his flashing light stand as you hit your teens? I must recall a magician who came to a few of my parties who I mostly recall for writing my name in toast (magical and tasty) but mainly for every time we passed the local Estate Agents my Mum pointed to a portly man in a suit and said “Look there’s your magician!” It took me a long time to put 2 and 2 together and I can’t help but wonder if his magic powers spread over to showing people around properties – “So now let’s head upstairs to the en-suite Whooooooosh!”
It was simple fun when I was young – a bit of entertainment and then a sugar overload as our Mums brought out tray upon tray of homemade sandwiches, walkers crisps in a bowl plus the obligatory party rings/pink wafers and choice of coke or lemonade.
As part of the teaching side of my ever changing and unsettling career I have had to touch on the children’s party for some extra pocket money (that country cottage won’t buy itself) And 25 years down the line and a few postcodes nearer to central London, wow things are a wee bit different.
These kids won’t get out of bed for less than the best part of £500! Children who are barely able to stand let alone recall anything yet are having state of the art entertainment and birthday cakes. I am talking the price of wedding cakes in the shapes of tractors, Never Never Land, jungle (a whole one) or trendy figures. I have to relay a conversation I had with a cake maker yesterday about a slight incident because I haven’t stopped laughing about it....
He received a text “Spiderman has lost an arm”
Very concerned he replied “How? What has happened?”
Beep! “I came down and he has lost a hand and is on his knees”
Now any of us would be worried sick by this conversation, has this poor person been attacked? A victim of war? Will he ever get up from his knees? Quick call Batman to help, he’ll know what to do!
This was a cake for a 3 year old. The stress surrounding turning up at this child’s house in a spiderman theme was ridiculous, the blame about the unknown cake injuries was bandied around, would the mother go nuts because it was less than perfect ? or less good than 3 year old Tabitha’s party had been last week? Because if I am honest, in my experience these parties are all about the parents.
I have been singing about the ocean with a Nemo toy in Berkley Square to a one year old who obliviously rolled about as a gaggle of adults enjoyed champagne and birthday cakes from Patisserie Valerie. I have never seen a party ring or indeed refined carbohydrates at one of these events– it is all hummus, cucumber sticks, nuts and organic fruit juice. Cucumber sticks do not say let your hair down it’s your birthday - to me!
Of course I understand about healthy living and heading off child obesity from a young age but surely at a party a small chocolate finger could slip through the net? And maybe we could save all the money and stress to later on for bowling parties or sleepovers or indeed sweet 16s at a time when they will remember and appreciate the good time?
What do I know? I have no little ones myself and so perhaps do not appreciate the need to spoil them in the nicest possible way and I’m not trying to talk myself out of a job. But spare a thought for next time I am dressed as a tiger and handing out Waitrose canapés to toddlers, because you’ve gotta take a step back and either take a good hard look at society or p*ss yourself laughing!!