Someone I know once described New Year's Eve celebrations as "some numbers changing and a load of idiots everywhere", and ever since, the idea of throwing any kind of commemorative shindig has lost some of its appeal. But last week I decided to arrange a party in a pub for my 40th birthday, mainly because if I didn't I'd be looking at an evening sitting alone in my pants watching Casualty and eating a meal deal from the local garage. As midnight ticked past and I slammed ferociously into middle-age, a friend came over and shouted into my ear: "Hey, great air-conditioning in this room," which I'm now considering having printed on a range of greeting cards.
I've noticed no substantial changes in my life since my birthday, although the spam emails I've been receiving have, coincidentally, targeted the slightly older gentleman. One advertised "Four Foods For Better Golf"; another suggested: "Lift and fix your sagging upholstery," although that turned out not to be a euphemism after all. These would have been offset by two exciting communiqués I received from a dating website, but one of them was from a girl in Ghana, and I suspect that she either doesn't exist, or she's after my money, which also doesn't exist. The other was from a woman who said: "As we have friends in common, I know we're not suited." I thought "friends in common" was a surefire box-ticker, but I suppose that depends on the mutual friends not describing me as a supercilious bastard.
Anyway, dating websites are passé. The new frontier of flirtation is online Scrabble: demonstrate your sophisticated vocabulary while shoehorning subtle hints on to the board like DINNER or MARRIAGE. But trying too hard to impress a highly competitive opponent can be fraught with problems. A lucky run of letters saw me surge into the lead as I played the word WRATHY, which I'm not sure exists and which I never expected the computer to accept. She sent me a message saying, "I am displeased." I apologised. "If we were in the same room," I said, "you'd be feeling my humility." "If we were in the same room," she replied, "you'd be feeling my wrathyness." My apology spurned, I finished with a flourish, playing the word HERO to trounce her sorry ass by 440 points to 332, which is a pretty good indication of the state of chivalry in Britain.