Last Saturday night my parents celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary.  My sisters and I organised a surprise party and invited their families and friends.

This is the invitation we had printed, using one of their original wedding photos as an illustration (and I’ve just taken a photo of the invitation stuck to my fridge, which explains the slightly weird perspective in this shot):

We had to give Mum and Dad a bit of warning that something was up, as Dad was intending to spend most of October abroad – I rang Mum when I heard that news and told her that she had to ensure that Dad was in town for that particular weekend (which was also the weekend of both of their birthdays, and the Rugby World Cup final, so it was a good time to be around).  She sorted things out and Dad flew in from Iceland the day before the party (and flew out to Mexico a couple of days later).  We actually told them about the party on the day itself and then packed them off for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon, so we could get everything organised.  Mum went shopping with her friend Sue and Dad played golf and watched the Senna film on DVD.  Meanwhile, we cleaned the house, rearranged furniture and decorated the party rooms with flowers and candles.

We’d arranged for our friend Russell to do the catering, so all we had to do was to keep everybody’s glasses topped up on the night and make sure that Mum or Dad were near the front door at all times – to retain some element of surprise we decided not to tell them who we’d invited, so they never knew who would be knocking each time.  We managed to track down friends they hadn’t seen for decades, which was fantastic.

Here are some more shots from the night.  The party in full flow, with some of the 45 or so guests enjoying themselves:

My sister Victoria, Dad and me:

My sister Philippa and Denise, our Auntie Jen’s lovely partner:

Mum with Graeme, a very old friend (Mum’s kneeling in this photo; she’s not actually a midget):

The happy couple at the end of the night:

And – the next day – Dad with his friend Richard, who he hadn’t seen for around 30 years:

It was funny to be at my parents’ party as an adult.  A couple of their friends who had known me as a child asked me if I still walked everywhere on tiptoes, as that was one of the most distinctive things they could remember about me (and Tristan confirmed that I do).  And Richard, that friend of Dad’s who hadn’t seen my parents for ages, responded to me opening the door for him and his wife with, “My God, you look just like your mother!” – something I get a lot, and I suppose that it was particularly noticeable for him, given that my mother would have been my current age when he last saw her.

All in all the party went really well and I’m so glad that I was able to be in NZ and organise it!


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