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

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions