Yesterday’s blog on my extravagant movie experience has clearly touched a nerve. I’d barely pinged ‘send’ when the charity Family Action was in touch to tell me that I wasn’t alone in worrying about the cost of children’s entertainment. According to a YouGov survey, 44 per cent of parents can’t afford to put on a birthday party for their children. With the help of Lloyds Banking Group, Family Action offered some tips to get me out of future pickles next time a birthday rolls round.
– Use free venues such as the park or a friend’s garden to hold a picnic or treasure hunt
– When friends and relatives ask what they can give as a present, rope in their support to buy the cake or chip in to the cost of a swimming party or cinema tickets – so much more welcome than yet more bits of plastic.
– Plan proper games and recruit your extrovert friends to play host rather than hiring an expensive party entertainer who they probably saw last week at Jack/Josh/Nishan’s do.
The advice couldn’t have come at a better time. After all that de-cluttering, we’d had a bit of an Ikea spree and bought a lovely new extendable daybed to replace College Girl’s broken single bed. Trouble is, despite having one and a tenth degrees between us, we couldn’t quite manage the order without a slight mishap.
So, instead receiving delivery of the two compact single mattresses we thought we’d ordered, we spent yesterday evening sharing our not exactly ranch-style kitchen with two brand new, unwanted, newly delivered double mattresses. It wasn’t an ideal evening for company, and I was still on hold to Ikea when Vix, my workaholic Geordie mate, popped in for a cuppa. She was wiped out after a 12-hour shift at the webface and in the mood for celebration.
“Mind the mattresses,” I said as she scampered over them to get to kettle. “Bit of a mix-up with Ikea.”
“What did you mean to order?” she asked drily, “A box of tea lights?”
She knows me too well, but I ignored her, and concentrated on being on hold. “It’s been 23 minutes,” I moaned. “It doesn’t take me that long to put together a Billy bookcase.” Finally a lovely lady from Ikea answered the phone and sorted the problem out in a jiffy. “Oh you don’t want those,” she said, “You want these – all sorted. We’ll pick them up on Thursday.”
“I can’t keep them in here till then, we can’t get to get to the kettle,” I whined.
“Haven’t you got a garage to put them in for a couple of days?” she asked, sympathetically.
“A garage? If I had the space for a garage I wouldn’t be buying a pull-out bed would I?”
“Ah – of course, you’re in London aren’t you – I take your point. Sorry, I live in Peterborough, plenty of space round here.”
“Have you got a tasteful throw?” asked Vix, passing me a mug.