The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Embracing 40……..With your very First Birthday Party Ever

on October 12, 2013

I know! It’s hard to believe but I kid you not that my friend Mrs Imperturbable had her First Birthday Party Ever last night at The Cufflink Club, Singapore. We were out shopping earlier this week for a party frock befitting the host of a 40th birthday party. Little did I know it was her first ever party host frock. When I asked her if she had anything in mind, her reply was ‘I have no idea about dresses. Other than something in a light fabric with slightly oriental features and either red or black, v-neck with short sleeves’. Those are quite specific requirements don’t you think? We didn’t find a dress like that.

Quite casually she throws into the conversation that she has no childhood recollection of celebrating her birthday. No photographs, no parties, no presents from friends. But apparently her eldest sister has wonderful memories of very happy birthday celebrations. It seems being the youngest of three, by the time it came to Mrs Imperturbable’s birthday, everyone was partied out.

Now, at this point any good friend would express deep sympathy and ‘Oh you poor thing’. Except I always fail to grasp the seriousness of a situation when talking to Mrs Imperturbable because she is by nature very measured and matter of fact. So what did I do? I laughed because I thought she was having me on! We walked around the shops some more until very calmly she says to me,’Were you just laughing at my tragic childhood past?’. Oh.

I’ve known Mrs Imperturbable for almost four years now. We used to live in the same condo and I used to see her with her eldest son by the pool and wondered whether she would like to be my friend. So I took the direct approach and passed my number to her husband to see if she would. And she did.

You always need someone much more grounded than yourself. A voice of reason to calm the chaotic thoughts in your mind. Someone who listens to the chaotic thoughts without judgement because sometimes, like therapy, you don’t need someone giving you the answers. You have the answers already but you need someone to listen whilst you get to the answer you’re looking for. This is what I like about Mrs Imperturbable, she lets you decide for yourself what’s best. Even during a time of great personal loss, she still had the ability to listen to my troubles without making them seem trivial.

I really felt I needed to make up for my insensitivity about her childhood Birthday memories (or lack of) and get her a thoughtful gift for her 40th Birthday. So I turned up to the party with this…..


Never ever buy anything on impulse. Luckily by the time we arrived at The Cufflink Bar, Mrs Imperturbable was fully embracing her First Birthday Party Ever to barely notice the wording.

Thankfully for her, she has far better friends in others than in myself. Like Hen and Stag dos, a 40th Birthday celebration is no longer a one night affair. Last night Mrs Imperturbable said she felt lucky to have such caring friends whose excitement over her 40th made her feel all the more excited about it. She has had, by her own admission, a fantastic week.

To kick off the celebrations, her real kind and caring friends took her out for dinner to Haji Lane on her Birthday Eve; they queued in the ridiculously long queue at Tim Ho Wan for dim sum lunch on her 40th birthday; they took her shopping for shoes and make up when shopping is not a particular pastime of hers. Although I think Mrs Imperturbable has rather surprised herself on that front, that shopping can actually be rather fun. A very special dinner with her husband was organised at The Tippling Club, Dempsey for a gastronomic assault on all the senses worthy of Heston Blumenthal.

Then last night was her First Birthday Party Ever. I think she rather enjoyed it too. What is there not to love about a birthday party? Your friends coming together to make sure you have a really fabulous time. I could definitely see that was going to happen. There was the friend with the new baby on her first night out since becoming a Mum, it’s no small thing to make that first evening outing. There was the good time friend who would have stayed up all night if Mrs Imperturbable had had the stamina (I did not). There was the friend who kept her glass topped up with champagne. A really good effort for someone who never took much notice of their own birthday before.

When the time comes (just 10 months to go now), I may not be able to celebrate my 40th with much the same group of people as I did for my 30th but I’m glad to know that there is a special group of people in Singapore I would happily celebrate with too.

One final note for Mrs Imperturbable (who is also quite stoical, I seem to know many such people), I’ve seen the effort you put in for the Birthday celebrations of both your boys. The handmade decorations; the detail of the home baked cakes; the care and attention put into every aspect of every party. I can guarantee you that in the future, neither of them will have anyone laugh at any tragic childhood birthday stories because quite simply, they will only have excellent ones to talk about.

Happy 40th Birthday to you Mrs Imperturbable. I’m sure a lot of people present and afar, are very proud of the grown up you are and to see you happy and enjoying all that comes your way.



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