I’ve never seen my best friend look quite so stunned. It was her birthday and instead of walking into Carluccio’s for a quiet dinner with her husband she was greeted instead by a noisy crowd of family and friends. “I had no idea,” she kept saying over and over again – completely staggered that we’d pitched up from all over the place to celebrate her big day.
For some reason I’ve been to lots of birthday parties recently. Some have been very posh – one was in a marquee, complete with speeches and a fancy menu – while my favourite was held at a working-men’s club in Lancashire, with hot pot and mash and a live band.
But right now I’m agonising over my daughter’s 21st and my son’s 18th. They want to throw a joint bash but can’t decide on the venue, let alone the music (electrofunk or blues) or the guest list. But one thing I do know is that it will be very different to my own 21st, a very sedate affair in Dorset. My dad ordered a keg of beer, we played Gloria Gaynor nonstop on my mum’s old tape recorder and most of my friends slept under the stars.
The one thing I won’t be doing is consulting Pippa Middleton’s new book for party tips. The Duchess of Cambridge's younger sister has come in for a lot of stick following the publication of Celebrate, which she was paid £400,000 to write. I haven’t got a copy but I sneaked a look at Waterstone’s and while the photography (by David Loftus) is stunning, the words leave a lot to be desired. I don’t want to be mean, because Pippa sounds lovely, but they’re along the lines of “tea bags should go in a teapot, rather than individually in mugs” and “flowers are a traditional Valentine’s token and red roses are the classic symbol of romance.”
No wonder a spoof Twitter account called @Pippatips has attracted 9,000 followers. Recent @Pippatips tweets include “a good way to keep warm when heading out into the cold weather is to wear winter clothing like jumpers and coats and hats” and “save time by doing things more quickly.” Take a look – it’s hilarious.