I recall my mother mentioning years ago, when I started getting older, that I was making her look old too. I heard myself say the same sort of thing the other night at a party. I was over in Sydney to help celebrate the 30th birthday of the daughter who lives – and loves it – there. I felt she’d want her father present for such a momentous event.
I’m not sure why I felt that. I hadn’t thought it through. I hadn’t considered the fact I’d be twice as old as almost everyone else there, or that kids party hard these days and I’m not quite the party boy I used to be. Still, I gave it a go and I survived.
Everyone seemed awed and impressed I’d come all the way to Sydney to see Gemma turn 30. Gemma’s brother and sister and their partners flew in from Melbourne, and various friends turned up from other places.
There were 29 of us at the pre-party dinner at a Mexican place in Kings Cross, and 80-odd at the party. I’d heard my children had put together a plan to look after me. It was called the Daddy Roster. Jamie, the only boy among my six kids, was supposed to escort me safely back to my hotel when I felt I’d had enough partying for the night. They seemed to assume I’d drop out before they did – and they were right.
They also knew I get lost easily. The birthday party was held in a vast nightclub dedicated to hosting parties. It was pulsing with awful music and packed with cool kids and I probably stood out in my new pink jacket and old grey hair, but I didn’t care. I was too busy socialising, though I swiftly gave up asking people to repeat what they’d just shouted at me. The few bits I did hear were alarming.
An ex-boyfriend of one of my other daughters was there and he was extremely excited to see me after so long. I didn’t quite share the feeling at first. The last time I saw that particular boyfriend I was chasing him down our road.
I don’t think I liked the way he used to sneak into the house without me knowing. Fathers of teenage daughters can be sensitive about such things. He hugged me, bought me a drink and said I’d made him a better person, which made me wonder if I should have spent more time chasing boyfriends down the road.
By the time I left, Kings Cross was a seething sea of party people and super-sized security guards. I dismissed all offers of an escort and walked confidently in what turned out to be the wrong direction.
Eventually, after a period of confusion, I found my hotel and my room and plunged deep into the sort of sleep only an older party boy can enjoy. Birthdays are a big deal in our family and I’m glad I made it to that one. Sydney was sunny and exciting. But it’s a long way to go for a party.