I go to a 40th birthday party.

“Here you go,” I offer, handing over my present and wishing that I’d made a bit more of an effort. The host takes my gift with enthusiasm.

“It’s some kipper pate,” he exclaims, maintaining a front of delight and excitement, in a very professional way, like a prostitute.

“It is Norfolk kipper pate,” I admonish. This is important, as preceding any noun with the name of a county instantly transforms it from just a common or garden ‘thing’ to a more impressive ‘locally sourced top-end product’.

“Yes,” he says.

“I got it from the Village Shop,” I explain, truncating the story of its origin to omit the period during which it had sat in my fridge waiting to be eaten, only to be rediscovered during an emergency “fuck, I haven’t got a present’ session. “The eat by date is quite soon.”

“Although,” I add thoughtfully, “to be honest it has been in my pocket all morning, so you might want to use it up pretty well straight away.”

He mutters some grateful thanks, and disappears to do some important mingling.

I am not on top form at the party. I am a bit down that I am at a time in my life when I am invited to 40th birthday parties at all. I have always thought of myself as very young and reckless at heart, e.g. I have a fan assisted oven and not only do not adjust the heating time according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but have actually thrown the instructions away.

I strike up some conversations, despite the fact that I do not drive a Volvo or own any Mike and the Mechanics CD’s. I have a nice chat about house prices, and get very drunk.

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