It finally happened.
Despite the best efforts of goats’ cheese, the gypsies outside Gare du Nord, a rudderless Republican party and possibly you, I turned thirty on the weekend.
All in all I feel pretty good about it. In fact, when my father got up to drunkenly say some nice things about me which I immediately followed by drunkenly saying nice things about everyone else in the room we both agreed on something.
It’s just a number.
This is not how I saw it at the beginning of the year. But having sailed through relatively unscathed (except in terms of weight gain, liver damage, fatigue and expense), there are a few tips you may appreciate.
1. Respect Your Craziness
A friend in New Zealand, someone I respect more than most people I have ever met, told me that she freaked out when she hit thirty. She left her partner minding their kid and vanished off to the Gold Coast on her own for a few days. She spent them by the pool drinking cocktails and quietly freaking out. (To be honest, that was my Plan B.)
Like all humans, I freak out less when I can maintain the complete delusion that I am in any way in control of life -mine or others.
We achieve this sleight of mind by planning furiously for six months.
Planning tricks your brain. Whenever you realise that thirty is bearing down on you, you start to feel anxious but then you start to really panic because there is so much planning that needs doing.
By the way, this is my theory as to why men freak out more than women in the lead-up to their wedding day. Because the bride to be has been able to distract her mind with floral arrangements and how to keep her slut of a cousin away from the married groomsmen.
If you know you’re going to freak out, start planning like an OCD-sufferer on the run from the law right now.
2. Marry Yourself
If you follow suggestion 1, you’ll see the marriage metaphor was chosen not just for hilarity’s sake but because flying a few dozen of your nearest and dearest to a remote, unfamiliar, picturesque location for a weekend of eating, drinking and shame is exactly what a wedding is like.
So think of it like marrying yourself. (Note: This is the only possible way I could marry beneath myself.)
In effect, this is your opportunity to be unique and do what you want to do. Gifts, however much I enjoy giving them, are nothing compared to good company somewhere carefully chosen. So happy engagement to you!
3. Get Lost
New locations are wonderful.
Your brain is taking in new information which means it’s less likely to betray you.
Also, new, distant locations mean people (mostly) confirm attendance well in advance. It also leads to heightened interest, especially if you can get people involved early on. (I got mine to choose their amazing, delicious food in advance.)
Basically, turn thirty somewhere new. It’s something you only do once per incarnation, anyway.
4. You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat
Always, always go for the bigger boat. It
- Reduces the risk of death by giant, crazed shark
- Allows you to do things like picnic at a stone circle in large groups
We had the rental choice between a large minivan or two sedans. I was initially hesitant about the large van because Somerset’s roads were built for horses and carts. Plus I was presumably going to be driving it back into London traffic the weekend of the Glastonbury Festival while being massively hungover/still drunk.
But no. We went for the van. It was fun. Muppet fun.
The other meaning of ‘bigger boat’ in this case is a strong advisory to scale people’s involvement.
Some people joined us from the other hemisphere. But there were also those who made it just for the lunch.
You get a much better attendance if you allow people the option to get as involved as they want. No one likes stag weekends being forced upon them. Same for Gordonmases.
5. Know The Best People In The World
There are 24 castle-enthusiasts in the world willing to travel from all over the planet to drink near me while I slip into my third decade. That’s frankly amazing and possibly my best achievement in the last thirty years. (A quick glance at the trophy cabinet would indicate this really isn’t saying much but it is.)
Thank you to everyone who came. For those of you that didn’t, just like it says in the Bible, may you too find your own 24 castle-enthusiasts.