Monday, October 25, 2010

The birthday that almost wasn't

Last week was my birthday.

I never used to 'celebrate' them much, or even acknowledge their passing, back in the UK; but since I've been living in China, I have fairly regularly enjoyed using them as an excuse to try to bring all my friends together for a bit of a blow-out.

This year, however, was a much more low-key affair than the last three or four...

Just about everyone I know was AWAY.  Nate the Pate was (as usual) occupied with business in Shanghai; The Choirboy (who doesn't travel much for work) was also away in Shanghai for the week; Leather Britches was in Xiamen; even The Suave Bengali (who seldom has to travel much beyond the end of his bed for work purposes) claimed to be "away on business" for a few days;  The Weeble was on a visa run;  The Film Guy had lost his phone and was uncontactable for most of the week; Mr Sex was to have been away on a trip to Siberia, put that off for a few days, got tempted by a rival party instead, finally agreed to come out with me... but then had "something urgent" come up at the last minute (such is the mad whirl of life as a freelance journalist);  The Man In Black is perennially incommunicado; even The Artist was away back to the UK for a while (not that she talks to me much any more); and The Chairman... well, The Chairman, bless him, is just utterly f***ing useless.  Shanghai Michael had been promising to come up, but got seduced by the rival prospect of a trip to Paris and New York (fair enough).  Sister Surly - most diverting of the 12 Square Metres 'regulars' through the middle of this year - has, alas, returned to America now; as has Dr Manhattan, my principal partner-in-drink last year.  Sexy Sarah, Glamorous Vicky, Animator Ben and Nick O'Pix have also quit Beijing this year. JK, of course, was unable to leave the bar.  And Big Nige was 20,000 ft up a sacred mountain in Tibet with his tour group (definitely the most hardcore excuse for absence!!).

I found myself pretty near friendless.... and so, glumly, I abandoned my sketchy plans for arranging a big get-together on the significant date.

However, luckily THE BAR is always there: thank heavens for 12 Square Metres!  My two closest gal pals, Ruby and Dishy Debs, turned out for me, as did Ron Not Ron (one of my oldest Beijing friends, but a chap I don't see for six months at a time these days); and a few other fortuitous drop-ins (we even roped a holidaying US Marine into the party for a while).  I really can't think of any way I would rather have passed another milestone on the road to death than in my favourite little bar, with my favourite bar owners, JK and Limei (and Mafan, their effusively affectionate puppy!).

It's just a pity that so few of my friends were able to join me this year.  Although in general I strongly disapprove of celebrating anniversaries on days other than the actual date, I may for once make an exception and try to have some sort of after-the-event party when everyone has returned from wherever....

(Actually, I found I was enjoying my "birthday" in 12 Square Metres so much that I spun it out for three days.  I happened to be in there late on the day before, so hung around till midnight to see in the 'Big Day' with a whisky; then I was back that night to share some cake with the handful of chums who hadn't quit the city; and then, since I was an afternoon baby and thus, thanks to the miracle of timezone difference, was not actually turning [indistinct] until towards midnight, and since it seems entirely reasonable to celebrate for a period of a full 24 hours after the moment of one's birth... well, I spun out my revelries through the whole of the next evening as well.  Three successive nights of liver battery!  I'm not sure that I'll be doing that again next year - I am getting too old for this shit!)


el said...

So sad to have missed it! Sounds like an absolutely lovely way to celebrate. I've always been a fan of birthday season instead of putting emphasis on the day. Glad it went well, and tonight's glass (because there's always a glass) will be raised to your new year.

Froog said...

Thank you. Pity you weren't around.