In the year 2009 I turned 24. I’m a June baby, and my Birthday always falls around the same time as Glastonbury Festival. Now although by this time I had actually been to a music festival and I didn’t hate it, I’m still not enamoured with the festival spirit of things. So I hoped that my friends would feel likewise and join me for a less-alternative nights of festivities.
By this point we’d all been friends for quite some time, celebrated many birthdays together so we had gotten quite good at throwing a party. We’d typically dine out somewhere, someone would buy a birthday cake, then head out for a night on the town, any town but usually hometown, Bath or Bristol.
For this birthday we’d all be getting together, the extended circle of gays would be complete. It would be Lara, Heidi, Daryl and me joined by Potter, Jess and Emma. The seven of us made reservations for dinner at a restaurant on the way into Bristol and just for a laugh we decided that the night would have a pirate theme.
I loved that everyone made an effort to dress up, people bought costumes in the run up to my birthday, there was an inflatable parrot. Face-paints, eye-patches, hats and even wigs it was a sight to behold. Coincidentally my parents would also be attending a Pirate themed party that evening at their friends house, so I put in an appearance there to be wished happy birthday before setting out for the night.
The dinner was great, mostly because the guys had made party bags! This was such a cool throwback to when you celebrate birthdays as a kid, all that was left was to cut the Birthday cake into pieces and wrap portions in napkins to ‘save for later’ the only thing I can remember that was in the party bags now were gold (plastic) deblunes and those really annoying party blower things.
As for my costume, it was handmade and understated. I wore some khaki shorts and I’d bought a really cheap plain white t-shirt from the Supermarket. That would’t do, it would have to be embellished somehow, so I grabbed a permanent marker and set to work. Before long the back of the t-shirt had a large skull and crossbones with the word Captain in pirate-style writing across the top. The front however was the real masterpiece, I drew two large cannons and attempted to place them right where my breasts would be (the heavy artillery!) Then of course there was my inflatable parrot Polly and the magnificent hat.
We used the face paints to draw on facial hair, scars and tattoos. By the time we got into Bristol everyone was in high spirits and we partied the night away, those of us that weren’t designated drivers enjoyed the alcohol, the others enjoyed watching the drunks. We all had a dance and laughed a lot, it was particularly busy in the club we ended up in but that didn’t matter.
Of course we were at a gay bar, I think if I remember it rightly it was a Thursday night. We went to the Queen Shilling which was typically good on a Thursday, they would have a shag-tag night. Wear a number and people can leave messages for you on a board opposite the bar rather than pluck up the courage to actually come and speak to you. Of course Polly the parrot proved most popular that night.
We had quite nice weather which was unexpected, I remember however leaving the club quite clearly. There were a number of incidents which happened from the club to getting out of the car park which have stayed with me for some reason. Firstly as soon as we left the club Emma checked her phone and had seen the news that Michael Jackson had died (way to steal my thunder, it’s my birthday dammit!) and then we took the short walk to the multi-story car park.
We had parked there for the first time on this occasion, typically we’d take our chances at a smaller car park just down the street, however we’d heard of people recently getting their cars clamped when parking there while out clubbing so we thought it best not to do so this time. We’d used one of those car parks where it fires out a ticket and you pay later, only none of the machines were working and we couldn’t pay for our parking, we queued up to leave the car park and pay by card on the way out.
No dice, even that refused to work. We were in a pickle then, and we weren’t the only ones. Even at this time of night there was a queue forming to leave the car park. Everyone had the same problem. We decided to force our way out of the car park in the end, it was Heidi to the rescue. Somehow she managed to lift the barrier to the car park, no easy feat it seems and let the queued cars pass before hopping back into our car to head home.
Only the exit was very narrow and only just allowed for a person lifting the barrier and a mid-sized car to squeeze past. Unfortunately for Heidi the car in front of us managed to drive over her foot and ankle while passing, to my utter astonishment she still managed to keep the barrier aloft and we were on our way. When we all enquired about the pain there were a few choice curse words but she shook it off remarkably well.
We ended the evening with the ritual Bristol take out on the way home. Whenever you’ve been out drinking in Bristol if your friends aren’t passed out drunk already the driver MUST stop at Miss Millies for some of the best fried chicken you can get in the south west. When we got back to our sleepy Somerset town that was it for another year, another birthday over with.
I think I remember this birthday so clearly for a number of reasons, as an adult it’s probably one of the most fun birthdays I’ve had, it was a time when things between Lara and I were good and seemed to be going somewhere, lastly Michael Jackson died and they say when these significant things happen you tend to remember better.
In just a few weeks Lara and I would be off on holiday again, I was looking forward to that. More sun, sea and sex (I was hopeful) and it would be great to top up the tan. When we were in Majorca that May I’d erred on the side of caution with the suntan lotion and used some factor 30, I came home almost as ghostly white as I’d departed, this time I wouldn’t go above factor 15, and I haven’t since.