The demi-century is upon many of my compadres and therefore, a big excuse to party and let it all hang out before it all drops off. Last weekend it was Sue’s Big One in Nantes so, I got my party frock out and crossed La Manche ready for some Gallic action. They came from all quarters to celebrate: the Algarve, the Holloway Road and Watchet so it was a bit of a squeeze, plus the bathroom was a building site so we made do with strip washes in the garage. Oh how we laughed (and cried) and reminisced about the good old days (it was a bit like Peter’s Friends but without the bad hair and chunky knit sweaters). Of course, once the French posse joined the party, the talk turned to existentialism and cheese but we just laughed again and had another Ricard. Sue had laid on some fine entertainment; we had a Belle and Sebastian type combo, a one-man band called Pierre-Claude with a pocket ukele, two ten year old hip hoppers, high on Le Tizer and, this being France, a bit of nasal wailing courtesy of Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf. The next day I rose from my lilo and after a great big fry-up,  threw myself into the pan-European ping pong championship, obstacle race and penalty shoot-out. The lethal combination of hang-overs and hysteria meant, of course, that the grown-ups weren’t operating on full cylinders although there were a few surprises, eg Nigel, despite wearing a cardigan and having slim fingers, can bend it like Beckham while Eddie is quite handy on a Space Hopper. Sadly, amid all the screams and shouts of ‘zut alors’, the kids made steak tartare of all of us. Happy days.