To the badlands of Solihull last night for my friend Mike's birthday shenanigans. Actually, although I say "badlands", I think most Silhillians (that's what Solihull inhabitants are called - it has nothing to do with Tolkien, honest) would consider running out of sun-dried tomato as hardship and privation.
The night went very well. We went to a place for food that seemed to have taken the whole concept of fusion cuisine to the next level. You've not lived until you've been presented with the option of Thai chicken, lamb rogan josh, sushi and pizza on the same plate. But funnily enough, it seemed to work well. I certainly pushed the concept of an all-you-can-eat buffet to the nth degree.
Then onto the Coach House for drinking and other levity. Normally the pub empties around 9:30-10ish as the bright young things go off to a club, leaving us old farts with plenty of room. This wasn't the case last night - perhaps the clientele were making the most of pub prices before going off and paying omigod money for drinks elsewhere. Anyway, it meant that the place was heaving. It was five-deep at the bar, and a trip to the bathroom meant serious consideration as you'd be a good ten minutes pushing your way through the crowd.
I'm happy to admit this isn't normally my favourite drinking environment. I like a lively atmosphere as much as the next person, but there's a limit on just how much humanity I want to deal with on a night out. However, there was a solution - we simply moved outdoors.
Looks like fun, doesn't it? We could move away from the worst excesses of the music being played by the DJ while still enjoying a great atmosphere. But there was one problem - this is England in March, don't forget, and it gets a little chilly on a clear night. OK, my Canadian readers may scoff a little, but some of us were insufficiently anaesthetised to shrug off the cold.
As we sat huddled around the patio heater, we watched the garden around us fill up. And this is when the advancing years of our social circle came to the surface. There were girls. Lots of girls, all dressed up for a night out. It seemed like a competition to see how much flesh could be put on display. How short the hemlines could get. How diaphanous the material of each garment could get.
And the conversation among my friends went like this:
"Look at her."
"I see her. In the blue minidress and heels. Wow."
"I know. She must be freezing."
"She'll catch her death. She'd be much better in sensible jeans and a woolly pullover."
"Just what I was thinking."
We are so old.