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Recently I went to the 50th birthday party of a very dear, and clearly quite old, friend.

His partner, another very good friend, had had posters made up of him at various stages of his life. As I looked at these pictures, a couple of which I had supplied, I struggled to understand how we had all found ourselves in this room celebrating this particular milestone.

It seemed like yesterday when I was in my second year at Uni and he was a regular Sunday morning (OK afternoon, well certainly after the Waltons, we were students after all) visitor to our shared house, helping me with the crossword. Until he told me the answer to a clue was ‘Spabcharge’ and I, gullible as ever, believed him. I have never lived that down. Or let him help me with a crossword since.

I took Eldest and Youngest (Middlest was at the Cub Scout B(ring) A G(rown up) camp with Daddy (he was the nearest we had to a grown up)). And before we went to the venue I sat them down and explained that they might hear rude words. Or things about mummy that shouldn’t be repeated. To paraphrase the famous film ‘what happens at the 50th birthday party stays at the 50th birthday party’. I think they got the gist.

They were both tired but Youngest went to sleep in the corner on a sofa (much to the hilarity of my old friends who gleefully remarked that she must take after me) and Eldest was determined to carry on and allow me time with these people, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years.

I was grateful to them. It was really fabulous to catch up with my old house mates and role playing mates and sailing mates.

And it was good for the kids to see me for an evening not as their mum but as a person with history and a life before they appeared in the world.

And I guess it is true that although we all look older, with greyer hair and more wrinkles, none of us have changed all that much. It is so so easy to slip back into those habits of 25 plus years ago. The stock phrases. The nick names. The idiosychronicities we were famous for. The mickey taking. Inside we are all still 20.

These friends were with me at a pivotal moment in my life, when I was living independently for the first time, really finding out about myself.

And I am glad they are still in my life.

Although I wish the birthday boy hadn’t tipped an entire pint of beer over my jeans….. Still it will be a talking point at his 60th….