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A funny thing happened the other day … no, nothing staggering to brighten an otherwise very gloomy November day, but there were strange items of post delivered by our friendly postman Dominic.

Like us, you are no doubt well used to the flood of junk mail coming through the letterbox, and Spam tumbling into our inboxes, but when you approach 50, odd things happen to your junk mail.  The “fifty-something’s” junk mail phenomenon has finally struck.

We had tried to prepare for the moment, by registering with mailing and telephone preference services, but alas, there was no escape from the “Funeral Plan” mailing.

Yes, Steve has reached the age where junk or spam no longer invites membership of the local gym club, or online offers for Viagra with such strength it could satisfy the lustiest lothario on the X factor.  No, he is now receiving mail inviting him to join an insurance plan without medical, or a funeral plan that allows him to decide whether he wants a Mercedes Benz or a Transit van to take him to his final resting place!

Granted, he doesn’t resemble the trim man I married over 22 years ago, but come on … give him a break.  He’s only just got used to the fact that, the hair gel in the bathroom hasn’t been used for (well), an awfully long time.  Or that ‘classic fit’ in a shirt really means, these are shirts for men who like to think of themselves as snappy dressers, but they are now past Ralph Lauren, and should be looking for “Roly ol Men”

So, how do you appease the man of your life who realised that life began at 30… about twenty years too late!

Simple.  You organise a party.  A family gathering with an air of sophistication.  For those of you who have read Four Finger and Thirteen Toes, you will remember that we like a good party.  When Steve and I reached the lesser of our significant birthdays – the age of 40 – we did just that.  We had a jolly good knees up (excuse the pun!) and breezed into our fifth decade with optimism.  However, ten years on, there is not quite so much wind in our sails, and optimism has been replaced by a visit to the optician.  Therefore a more refined celebration was called for.

Ha … no fear.  Having broached the subject of a party, Steve declared that he wanted a 60’s themed party.  So far so good.  However, not known for a major amount of “je ne sais quoi”, Steve promptly issued invitations to a Chinese takeaway night, with a request to all guests to bring something from the 1960’s.  Needless to say the acceptances came flooding in – after all who could resist the allure of a Chinese takeaway washed down with one or two; or three, or four glasses of good quality wine.  In my mind, the prospect of drinking copious amounts of wine, just about made up for the thoughts of a takeaway on this special occasion, rather than a sumptuous banquet.  But again I came up against the obstinacy of this grumpy old man, who had very definite ideas on how to celebrate his 50th birthday.  Fine wine was out, in favour of a classic 60’s wine – answers on a post card please – but let’s just say, Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch figure pretty high on the wine list!

And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the FedEx man turned up again the other day, with a parcel.  Neatly addressed to Mr. Simmonds, both James and I decided we might have to call upon the help of the Psychiatrist who lives opposite, when the parcel was opened to reveal the entertainment for the party – a Karaoke disc of 1960’s music!

Now I must confess, I have great difficulty seeing Steve’s Dad gyrating his hips to “Delilah”, or his Mum doing a rather bad Shirley Bassey impression of “Big Spender”.  But horror of horrors I have this recurring nightmare of my middle sister doing her Lulu impression to “Shout”.  She used to do it very well before she had kids!

But stick by his guns he did, and only yesterday, the strains of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap could be heard coming from the living room, with Cardiff’s answer to Robbie Williams fair murdering a rendition of “Young Girl”.

So, although his birthday was the other day, tonight is the party, and all I can do is wait and hope…   Hope that the guests turn up.  Hope that the dishy delivery man from Chinese takeaway is able to make it through the snow (yes we have lots of snow in Cardiff which brought the place to gridlock yesterday), and that Mr. Gary Puckett doesn’t find himself with a Noise Abatement Order after his karaoke performance.

I’m sure all will be well, but there is just one thing I forgot to tell you.  The post arrived this morning, and guess what … They’ve now caught up with me too.

My first “Plan” letter has arrived, and for replying I get a bunch of Marks and Spencer vouchers.  How can I resist, after all I’ve just been told of a new line in “inco-pants”.  Nifty at Fifty??  More like damp and dreary, but what the heck … Where’s that wine – even if it is Steve’s party … [singing]

“Get this party started on a Saturday night
Everybody’s waiting for me to arrive
Sendin’ out the message to all of my friends
We’ll be looking flashy in my Mercedes Benz
I got lot of style, check my gold diamond rings
I can go for miles if you know what I mean
I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started
I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started”.