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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Discover horrors of a child’s party

THERE are lots of things in the world that are horrible. Stubbing your toe, or finding out you’ve run out of Creme Eggs are just a couple of examples.

EM Peter Grenville column
Peter Grenville

But there is something far worse.

I had an enjoyable few days last weekend staying with my brother, which involved laughing a lot, drinking at unusual times, and agreeing to go to my niece’s son’s third birthday party. It turned out that this was a very bad idea.

This was no ordinary party, but one held at what can only be described as a kids’ birthday warehouse.

On entering the gigantic building we were met by myriad tables with names on – a kind of green room, where the little darlings could assemble, before being led off to the main event.

If 100-plus kids in one space isn’t terrifying enough, factor in one of those indoor play areas on an industrial scale, boost the noise level with sweeties and fizzy drinks, and you’ll still not even be close. Shell-shocked adults surveyed the scene in wide-eyed terror, wondering if they might escape unnoticed, or at least without permanent hearing loss.

Youthful staff dressed as tigers and pirates walked despondently round trying to clear up and maintain order, all shades of dignity shredded.

Like a badly injured pheasant on a road, they looked at us with ‘kill me now’ eyes.

Party time arrived, at which point your group is ushered upstairs, to walk past a dozen other parties in themed cubicles. We entered a nautical world, where they’d thoughtfully provided us with benches so low, I wasn’t even eye-level with a three-year-old.

The kids were distracted by the other parties, small amounts of unhealthy looking party food were eaten, spilt, pushed up noses and mashed into hair, and then the nippers got theirs too.

The staff were soon clearing up the barely touched food, ready for the next round of bedlam, whilst I pondered how we’ve reached a stage where the shocking waste of food seems trivial.

Somewhere in the world, a starving child is crying themselves to sleep with hunger – here, they’re probably a bit miffed at having to fork out for another skip to shovel the unwanted goodies in.

And then we were outside, gulping lungfuls of air, our ears ringing like we’d just exited a Who gig circa 1976.

Whatever happened to jelly and ice cream, with half a dozen mates, in your living room?

My therapy sessions start next week.

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