Apart from the fact that I didn’t get the Ferrari and Marat Safin didn’t call me and offer to become my personal tennis coach I had as brilliant a birthday as a girl can hope for.
Being born close to Christmas is a bummer, but I think that at this ripe old age I have finally found a way round it. You have a birthday party. People come with presents instead of just bunging you a card and saying “I’ll get you a big present for Christmas instead”.
The children were as nicely behaved as I have ever seem them; Leo’s job was to greet people downstairs and send them up to the terrace where our friend Sandra had created a wonderfully candlelit louche setting with fabric awnings, beanbags and rugs. The girls manned the bar. It is hardly surprising we got through 20 bottles of champagne in a few short hours; once those two get on a mission there is no stopping them. But they were all charming, all evening. Leo eventually fell asleep around 11pm on one of the beanbags. When I said to him this morning that I was so touched they were all so well behaved he said: “It was your birthday mummy, we haded to.”
The guests were all great. I have a theory that a drinks party is only dull if you invite dull people. And as it was my birthday I didn’t see any need to invite anyone I would resent being stuck chatting to. We had an eclectic mix; two ambassadors and my seriously foxy yoga teacher among them. Rupert has vowed to re-think his attitude to the downward dog.
What surprised me I suppose is just how many really good friends I have made here in just over a year. I don’t think I could have had such a large soiree of people I really like in France after almost nine years. Although of course we have some great friends in France whom I miss terribly. And Norrie and Mary in the Savoie also added to the euphoria over my birthday by sending me a copy of the new ITV Wuthering Heights and singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ on the phone. But my point is that I think here, because you are so removed from Europe, you make good friends very quickly and there is also a bigger pool of potential friends because there are so many more people in the same situation as you are in.
Whatever the reason, as I surveyed the presents this morning (not one duff one among them; Chanel handbag (almost real), Girl’s Night Out Five CD set, book on Yoga, Clarins bubble bath, Estee Lauder lip plumping gloss, several gift vouchers to spas, lots of bottles of wine, a gorgeous necklace and more) I realised that I may have a hangover from hell and be middle-aged (yuk) but there are a lot of great people living here who really seem to know what I want. Including my office who gave me a huge bunch of pink flowers. I have rarely felt so loved on a birthday as this year. Maybe next year someone will show up with the Ferrari and my birthday really will be totally perfect….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009