Is it time for a Birthday Retrospective?  Y’know, one of those “what were you doing 1, 2, 5, 10, 15 etc. years ago?” things?  I think so.  Game on!

1 year ago – 2010 (34) – Hannah, Paul, Kathryn & I went for a frightfully civilised dinner at The Athaeneum on Piccadilly, quite a lavish hotel with a quite extensive whisky selection.  As it happened, the people working that night didn’t know their whisky-arses from their whisky-elbows, so that part of the evening was a shambles.  But the rest was lovely.  Also, that morning on the way in to work I ran into Tim Minchin in Starbucks on Tottenham Court Road.  Chickened out of saying hello though, for reasons I don’t fully understand.

CORRECTION – vis-a-vis Michelle’s comment below, she’s utterly correct. Last year I *did* convince a load of friends/subjects/victims to participate in a no-holds-barred karaoke extravaganza.  My only excuse was that I’d paged back in my google calendar to see what I did the week of my birthday, forgetting that I’d organised karaoke for about 3 weeks afterwards (for some reason).  This however ties in with a fairly important correction relating to my 30th birthday as well.

2 years ago – 2009 (33) – Very nice afternoon lunch session at The Old White Lion in East Finchley, where we took over most of the main room and generally had a splendid elongated Sunday chill, pint, lunch & dinner.  I’m going to get the list wrong, but I think Dave, Michelle, James, Libby, Bushy, Rach, Brett, Rachel, Richie, Hilary, Kat, and Belinda were definitely there.

And the Saturday was a bit of win too, with a few beers with Lizzie at The White Horse on Parsons Green, and a night of cabaret with the statuesque and amazing Hannah Waddingham & Friends accompanied by Belinda & Tom.

5 years ago – 2006 (30) – A merry band of folk (from memory: Charlie, Dan, Hannah, Richie, Craig, Kate & Paul) accompanied me to the rarefied surroundings of Boisdale of Belgravia where we had a delightful meal accompanied by some live jazz, and the odd whisky or 3.  It was notable for being an excellent meal, a grand old time, and being the first meal I’d perpetrated that resulted in a bill for an amount greater than the cost of a car I’d bought.

ANOTHER CORRECTION – whilst the above was what we did on the actual date of my birthday, things have been more complicated of late with my penchant for celebrating the damn thing whenever I like (and sometimes more than once a year), and it occurred to me that despite my birthday being in June I held a joint 30th with the ever fabulous and long suffering robo-babe Roie Paris in Adelaide in the November of that year, as well.  Seems odd to forget a party which coughed up a gallery of 130 photos.

10 years ago – 2001 (25) – In June 2001 I think I was living in the flat in Torrens Park.  I’m pretty sure this was the one where we went go-karting out at Dry Creek, but typically my birthday involved a slap-up Mexican binge, and I’m a bit stuck on detail of whether this was the one where we rocked along to Montezuma’s (where DB was working at the time).  Might have to confer with the others.

15 years ago – 1996 (20) – so 2011 isn’t the first birthday I’ve had in the USA.  In 1996 I was working at Camp Binachi in Mississippi when my birthday took place.  The lads were awesome and we had a cake & bit of a shindig in the dining hall, and hooked the Playstation up to the massive TV for a Tekken tournament.  Only frustrating aspect of this year was that the local paper did a story on me (they don’t get many Aussies in Meridian, MS) and so I found it impossible to get a beer in that town, because they’d all seen in the paper that I was under 21.

Camp Binachi 1996 - when I still had a waistline, and a leather bumbag to go around it (as all good International Travellers did have at this point)

20 years ago – 1991 (15) – holy shit, what was I doing at 15?  1991 was my first year in Gang Show Cast, first year in Venturers, year 10 at school…  My guess is that it was probably something like a video night with a bunch of folks from Cross Road Bowl.

25 years ago – 1986 (10) – I’m pretty sure that to commemorate the highly significant milestone of reaching an age with double figures, my Mum finally acquiesced to my relentless campaign of harassment and let me hold a birthday party at Downtown: the video game arcade palace on Adelaide’s sophisticated entertainment drawcard boulevard, Hindley Street.  At the age of 10 there was no place cooler than Downtown.  Bizarrely, I’ve got some pretty clear memories from this day – there was my repeated frustrated playing of the Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom video game (which I was rubbish at), a failed attempt to play the massively ambitious & justifiably unpopular roleplaying game Thayer’s Quest (which had a full keyboard as control input – rare for an arcade game – and was completely bewildering to my 10 year old eyes), and getting grease all over my hands & tracksuit pants after tripping over on the dodgem car rink.

30 years ago – 1981 (5) – at the age of 5 you’re pretty easy to please, so par for course is to invite a few mates around, load up on sugar, and run around the backyard breaking things and shouting.  In many respects, this is what birthdays after about 33 involve, as well.

I loved that mustard-coloured velvet waistcoat.

So, there you have it.

By way of completeness – this year’s birthday effort was to go into New York City and meet up with my esteemed colleague Dr Love at a modest little steak emporium called Keens on W36th St (recommended by Mr Colin Dunn – a chap who can reliably figure out which direction is up), for a couple of slabs of meat and a cheeky ale or 3, a wee dram or 2 (Talisker 18 and Longrow Gaja Barolo), and some enlightened free-ranging discussion.  Classic.  And also working on responding to the 196 birthday messages I got on Facebook.

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