I am really looking forward to this weekend, I haven’t much planned, but after the stress of last Saturday I am looking forward to a sense of calm returning to my life. Last Saturday was my older brothers surprise 40th birthday party, a surprise party that had been my brainchild back in January. I was warned that it might be tricky to organise, impossible to keep secret and receive an unwelcome response from the birthday boy, oh well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!
Even though his birthday wasn’t until November I wanted to get the ball rolling early on as I figured a lot of his friends would also be doing the same celebrations for their 40th’s. I recruited the help of my sister-in-law and his two closest friends as my co-conspirators for the guest list. I scoured his Facebook friend list for clues of who he was in contact with from school, then looked at my Facebook friends list and reasoned that you probably wouldn’t want to invite half the people on there, as the last time you spoke was in Chemistry class and that was a vague memory. Luckily, my co-conspirators were able to advise me on who would be welcome and who would be just a bit random. As one of them pointed out, the last thing my brother would want would be a rubbish school reunion by resurrecting the ex-school friends who he was glad to see the back of. After much deliberation we had a guest list; a chosen few school friends, a group of lads from Basingstoke he hadn’t seen for a long time but were greatly missed in his life and our close friends and family. My parents were providing their mental/physical/financial help with the organising and we decided on our local football club as a venue to go with the ruse of ‘my son’s football fundraising party’ that would be our cover. Things were shaping up, invitations were sent with a heavily stated ‘keep quiet’ approach and we were receiving lots of keen acceptances.
The venue with a bar was booked, guest list sorted, next was decor, catering and music. I would be lying if I didn’t admit how much I was enjoying the organisation of it all, I hadn’t yet resorted to wearing a hands free phone kit on my ear and carrying a clipboard, but I was quite tempted to. The venue had a speaker system that would give us the option of bringing in our own music to save on a DJ. The moment I found this out I could feel my inner control freak stretching its hand out screaming ‘me, me!’. This was what all those years of mixed tapes had been leading up to, the hours spent recording the top 40 on my cassette deck my finger poised over the pause button, timing it just right to avoid any speaking between the delectable sounds of Bros and Wham!
Obviously recording music is a bit more straightforward these days with IPods and downloads, but I still became a bit too obsessed with the task of creating my playlist. I figured I needed 4 hours of music, so I divided each hour into how I thought the music would be received; first hour would be guests arriving/my brothers ta-da surprise, second hour would be mingling/chatting/catching up, third hour would be eating/drinking/getting merry, with the fourth and final hour bringing dancing round handbags/tearful goodbyes. I refused any help and when hubby assisted me with some of the downloads, I was incensed when he inserted a few of his own suggestions such as Dennis Waterman ‘I could be so good to you’, apparently this ‘sing the theme tune’ is a classic sing-a-long for lads, I wasn’t convinced but let it go with the promise he would own up to it on the night if questioned.
The day drew nearer, my parents and sister-in-law had the hardest job of getting my brother to the fake event without him finding out the truth. My sister-in-law explained that whenever he discussed the night she made a cup of tea and only spoke from the kitchen so he couldn’t read her expression. There were some minor hiccups on the run-up, bizarrely there was a shortage of helium in our local area so I had to source a balloon creator from out of the area to come and decorate our venue. I’m not sure if our local youths have been using our helium up as I can’t say I’ve heard highly pitched youngsters hanging around the high street lately.
The night arrived, all the guests were in place, it now felt like a military operation with my sister-in-law sending me coded messages while we all stood in the dark waiting their arrival. Finally, the door opened, the light came on and my brother, although visually shocked, casually removed his jacket and waved at the room as if it happened every week. But thankfully he was pleased, he was definitely surprised but he was happy to have the party thrown in his honour.
The party was a success, everyone was pleased to mingle, lots of drink and food was consumed. My music list was, as expected, not appreciated and I had to physically stop myself from asking people to pay attention to the smooth links of each hand-picked track. Even Dennis Waterman received a good, as well as confused, reaction. The night ended with my brother and his mates with arms around shoulders shouting along to Chas N Dave, with my brother looking happy. Mission accomplished. I am now available for hire; weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, I’m very reasonable and I do a wicked playlist!