And so, it was on this weekend of mixed weather fronts that I turned the insignificant twenty-two. Gone are the days of the big parties with all those friends and family (who you rarely ever see) and roll on the birthday evenings in the pub.
These are the kinds of evenings that you know will end up abanding your car in the carpark for the night, and you resolve yourselves to commence an evening of visits to the bar and an ever growing collection of empty glasses. The heavy rain had passed, finally. I apologise to anyone who had weather permitting plans that were ruined by precipitation - I should have publicly announced that June 10th never passes without a rain storm of sorts.
Frank, Miss Hendo, Miss USA and my little fashionista sister (who made the trip down from Birmingham) joined me on my birthday and saved me from the shame of lonesome drinking. We drank a lot of gin/southern comfort/beer/vodka cranberry juice. And it was quite a lot.Too much some might say, but we wouldn't agree I'm sure. Much of the evening was spent laughing ( my cheeks were very sore on saturday morning) and teaching my friends how to play 'FIVES' - a 'game' that is, oh so quintessentially Exeter. Used to determine who will be making the tea, rides shotgun, takes out the rubbish, or just a drinking game played by every sport team/department on campus. It was surprising how quick it was picked up. Well done ladies. Question is, do we still remember how to play it? Or did the rules disappear with the onset of a hangover?
Papa Dodd played the role of 'ever-obliging cabbie' and picked up a rowdy group of friends. Very much appreciated Papa!
Upon returning home I realised the full scale of my intoxication and forced myself (and Frank) to drink 3 pints of Robinsons orange squash. I also took two painkillers, which is why I was able to get up bright and early on saturday morning without any struggle. I also managed to tie up my trainers, collect the pooch from her cosy warm bed and run back to the pub to collect my car before Family Dodd (minus Mumma Dodd - who is currently sunning herself in Cyprus) packed themselves and a picnic into the car and journeyed to Sandown Races for a sunny day of gambling.
Mr Quiche, my unofficial Godfather (on account of not being religious) also joined us for a glorious day. How many people won pennies? Well I am sure that plenty of people went home with pockets bulging, however we (like the majority of other racegoers) had very light pockets. Frank backed many losers, and lost many pennies, then won it all back, was £2.50 up and then lost it on the last race. Oh well, such is the unpredictable nature of odds and horses. Sometimes you just shouldn't trust either, and pick the name instead - oh "Mr Rainbow" if only you'd run a little faster.
And so the evening began with a fantastic Irish band playing on an outdoor stage. Now, everyone knows that Irish music makes you want to dance and jig and move those little feet. Apparently the English by generalisation are not aware of this musical understanding. Not only was there a 5 metre perimeter between the stage and the audience but no one was moving. (Not even any foot tapping.) No one that is, until Frank grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out into the void. Originally, he 'wooed' me with his dancing, so I was no stranger to 'the moves'. But a year ago it was in a club full of very drunk students dancing wildly to 'Summer of 69'. This was a little different. We had an audience. Had a drunk a combination of wine and very nice Champagne, but this did not stop my overwhelming sense of self-awareness. Not actually a lover of the spotlight apparently, as it turns out.
I am so grateful for my decision to wear 'posh' sandals rather than towering heels. I was able to control my two left feet, while blushing madly and avoided my bottom meeting the concrete. Frank did have hold of me, so I don't think I would have slipped anyway.
Well, until the heavens opened and everyone was soaked. Including the unfortunate lady who had chosen to wear a slightly too large bandeau dress and experienced a fashion mishap. It goes without saying that the gentlemen in the audience were more than appreciative of the increased amount of body that was exposed. They were of course, ignoring the glares of their wives/girlfriends/female best friends who have secretly been harbouring feelings for them for years.
We left, not because we were soggy (I'll never understand how to achieve the alluring 'caught in the rain' look), but because we had to keep our dinner reservations. But as we left the now dancing crowd, enjoying both music and rain, the band struck up a rendition of 'Galway Girl'.
This song will now forever remind me of my 22nd Birthday at the races, getting soaked to the bone dancing with Frank and has created an unexplainable desire to go to Ireland, drink Guiness in a tavern, and jig until my little feet can't dance anymore.