In class recently, one of the shining hopes for the future was describing a man: "He had blonde hair, Sir, and was really old".

"How old?" I enquired. The response of "around 50" again acted as my kryptonite. I was visibly shaken, when, in effect, it is my job to be the calmest person in the room. Now I’m not there yet, with a couple more runs required for my own half century, but I recall as a teenager classing anyone over 25 as being decrepit and ripe for the knacker’s yard. And so I made my way home last Friday night and got ready to celebrate with the geriatrics, as I had two back-to-back 50th birthday parties to attend on Friday and Saturday.

It kind of felt a little like my short-lived raving days in the 1990s (I gave up as the sound of repetitive pneumatic drills on loop will never, to my mind, usurp the sounds of the Beatles) as I can’t remember the last time I went out, full-on, for two nights on the trot.

But oh, what a splendid time we had! The first 50th was for a friend, Darren, in the local hostelry and was packed with friends and family, all a similar vintage, and all very comfortable in one another’s company, as we sunk a flagon or eight. It was so much nicer than parties of the youth, where there’s always some Herbert trying to outdo someone else as they vie to be the drunkest or foulest person in partyville. The mainstays were still there, including balloons and cake, despite his wife giving up after 20 candles. From egotistical dress some years ago, there was now parity, as we wore what made us feel comfortable, be it Hush Puppies and a golfing jumper, or a tracksuit and bodywarmers: the truth is, it was nice, and non-judgmental, as age showed that the superficial we once held so dear is nothing but fluff and flotsam.

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Suffering the next morning as I wore shades on a cold November Saturday to take my daughter to gymnastics, I was quite happy to hit myself, as we all do more frequently as the years tick by, with the excuse stick. However, this was not a possibility as the final weekend 50th was that of my brother, Scott, on the south coast. Now suffering from sleep deprivation and a headache, once the kids had been packed off to the in-laws and the cat had been fed enough to last him through a nuclear war, we made our way to sunny Hastings.

For a change, and without the kids in tow, we decided against staying with family and opted for the town’s premium hotel, or at least that’s how I remembered it the last time I stayed there some two decades ago. We fell asleep upon arrival and rushed out the door less than fashionably late, to be met in the venue, on the beach, by a wall of people whom I vaguely recognised. There were photos adorning the walls, a lovely spread of nibbles and we stayed until gone 2am, reminiscing with some lovely folk who I haven’t seen since my school days. Through drink-vision, we arranged to hook up again soon, which we sincerely meant but will not see through until the next time we convene when there is no doubt a 60th to attend or a funeral.

Brett Ellis at his second 50th birthday party of the weekend

Brett Ellis at his second 50th birthday party of the weekend

Again, it was uber-relaxed, and as I attempted to dance to Dexy’s and the Village People, the shackles of age came down and I could not help but think back to years gone by when we would be extracting the urine from the drunken failed robot or backspin, whereas now, through age and fallibility, there was little other than love, trust, and mutual respect.

Yes, this week has been a bit of a killer and, as I write this, deep into bedtime on a Thursday evening, I am still not feeling tickety boo, but the next one can’t come around fast enough. I plan to say yes to every invite, to stop making excuses, and to embrace the aged celebration as often as I can, for as long as I can, and that’s all you can do, as one day the only thing you will be left with is the only thing you can never have taken away: your memories.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher