Alice-Azania Jarvis: The price of being another year older

In The Red

So it's my birthday. Not today, but a week from today. In precisely seven days I'll be ... ha! As if I'm going to tell all of you. I have, I think, just about reached the stage where this is no longer something to be excited about, but rather something to dread. And dread it I do.

Not just because of the rising spectre of proper adulthood – though that's no cause for celebration either – but because of the day itself. Instead of something to look forward to, it has become a day of planning, anguish, financial calculations and resignation.

Should I do anything special? Should I commemorate something when the celebrations themselves make me tense? How should I celebrate? Drinks in a bar are the cheapest option. I did it last year, and it was a success. No pressure on me or anyone else to spend too much money. But then, how many yearly episodes of that can you take before it becomes, well, a little dull?

The same people, in similar rooms having similar inebriated conversations. On the other hand, ignoring your birthday is depressing. I did it one year – well, sort of, just a normal work day followed by a quiet dinner at the local Japanese restaurant with the Boy – and I felt, well, a little let down.

So this year, I'm throwing caution to the wind. I'm going out for a meal with some old university pals. It's something I've always resisted on the basis that it enforces a payment of some sort. Kind of, come to my party! It'll cost you £xxx! But having canvassed a few friends, none seem – or none admitted – to minding.

Problem solved, I thought. Or not. What about location, price range, type of cuisine? It's my birthday, so I don't want to wind up in Burger King or Pizza Express. There needs to be a certain amount of celebratory glitz.

The place I really wanted cost about £30 a head. But how would I feel if someone asked me to spend that? Full of warm birthday wishes? Er, no.

So I've gone for a cheaper option. A trendy pizza restaurant in east London. I'm not the world's number one pizza fan – but hey, it's buzzy and celebratory. And it should be fun.

And, best of all, I doubt it should come to much more than £20 a head, depending on starters/drinks/debauchery.

So, problem solved. Now I just need to persuade people to come along. Any takers?

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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