Dom Joly: Birthday party hell is other children's parents

Share
Related Topics

Birthdays are never easy. Mine no longer tend to herald exciting parties and the greedy shredding of wrapping paper. Mine are now just mileposts that point the way towards the inexorable arrival of old age. Because I'm an increasingly maudlin fellow, I tend to treat other people's "special days" in the same vein. This is a big mistake if you have children. Fortunately, my wife is far better than I am at making sure that they have fabulous days to remember. My daughter Parker turned eight last week. Even this fact sends me into spirals of depression. How could my lovely little girl be eight? Soon there will be encounters with strong cider, and knocks on the door from eager young men with too much acne who will have to be dispersed with shotguns.

Stacey had organised for us to take Parker on a trip to the cinema with some of her friends, before taking them all out for a meal. Parker wanted to see Wall-E. This meant a trip to the dreaded Multiplex in Swindon – a place where a father can be bankrupted on popcorn and soft drinks alone. All this while surrounded by Burberried chavs screaming into their mobile phones and sniffing glue.... Not my idea of a great night out. I was secretly dreading the whole affair, but had to keep up an excited front for the good of the family.

Then at the final hour, as all seemed lost, a reprieve! Wall-E was no longer showing at the multiplex and we might not have to go into Swindon at all. But then Stacey started to go into damage control and look at alternative films. I had to act fast. Suddenly, a brainwave – I remembered that our local celeb hangout, Barnsley House, has its own private cinema. Before the credit crunch, it was used by London media types for screenings while they enjoyed a pointlessly debauched weekend in the Cotswolds on expenses. It was very late in the day, but maybe, just maybe, the collapse of the world economy might work in my favour. I rang the hotel and found, to my indelicate delight, that they had no cinema bookings for the weekend. I booked it immediately. There was no need for anyone to go to Swindon! Everything was going to be OK.

We then had to choose what film to show the kids. We Googled "best kids' films ever" and up came ET. I can't remember whether I actually saw it as a kid, but it was perfect and we agreed on the choice immediately. At least it was a proper film and we wouldn't have to sit through one of those smug McDonald's tie-ins with über-cartoons that try to entertain the kids while giving the parents a bit of a nod and a wink. We sent out the invites and all was well... until we started to get the phone calls. Several parents were unhappy with our choice of film.

"Little Pumpkin gets terrible nightmares and we don't want her to see anything that might upset her," said one. "I think it's very unsuitable, parts of it are very upsetting. Have you considered something lighter?" whimpered another.

Stacey, a far nicer person than me, started to worry and began considering other titles. I was incensed: "For God's sake, it's the most popular kids' movie of all time... Bambi is sad, Watership Down is downright depressing, it's part of life...."

I put my foot down and the word was put out that our choice of movie was non-negotiable. I was tempted to offer Driller Killer as an alternative, but Stacey made me behave.

Come the day, two kids didn't turn up but everyone else loved the film. What the hell is happening to us all? What kind of soft ninnies are we raising? Anyway, Happy Birthday, darling Parker.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls  

The campaigns to end FGM are a welcomed step, but they don't go far enough

Charlotte Rachael Proudman
Our political system is fragmented, with disillusioned voters looking to the margins for satisfaction  

Politics of hope needed to avert flight to margins

Liam Fox
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game