and it was an experience I do not wish to repeat. Allow me to explain?
The Senior Cat and I were invited to a birthday "party" for a friend of ours. She was turning 40. She isn't married and her mother is not that well so she did the simple thing - she invited a few friends to "drinks" at one of the local hostelries during the afternoon rather than have a party at home.
So, off we went. I went into a Downunder "pub" for the third time in my life. I know. Wowser. Anti-social. You can add a long line of other derogatory and rude terms if you wish. Finished? I did go into more Upover pubs than that.
I don't drink alcohol. It brings me out in a rash. I don't like the taste or the smell either. The Senior Cat is the same. We know we could go to a pub and have lemon squash (which is what we had yesterday) but we don't bother.
The reason we don't bother was very clear yesterday. The place was crowded. One half of the outdoor "beer garden" was roped off for a "boutique" beer tasting.
Because the Senior Cat could not negotiate the steps at the other end we had to negotiate our way through the crush. Everyone at that end was young. Some of them were already inebriated. One of the staff was very helpful and got us through to the other end. It was not quite as crowded but the noise flowed over. People were smoking. The Senior Cat was wheezing by then - and I felt as if I was gasping for breath. I loathe cigarette smoke and so does he.
We found our friends however and sank thankfully into a couple of chairs. And that was when the even bigger problem hit home. There were the nieces of the birthday girl. They are aged 5 and just 4. They were sitting at the table with their parents who both had their i-pads out and were desperately trying to entertain the two with a simple game they had loaded. Their father looked up and said quietly,
"This is no place for children."
He was right. They may grow up to participate but, right then, they were much too young to be surrounded by adults they did not know drinking alcohol, smoking and - at the other end - getting very noisy with it.
They stayed a little longer so as not to disappoint sister and aunt and then left. It was clear their parents could hardly wait to remove them from the venue.
There are people who claim to enjoy the sort of thing that was happening at the other end of the "garden". They will have spent the afternoon drinking beer and talking to people. Some will have a hangover today. It will be described as "great" afternoon.
I really don't understand it. A good afternoon for me in similar circumstances would have been being able to sit quietly, lemon squash on the table beside me, chatting to people.
I'll rest the vocal chords today and try to work out why other people think of it as "fun" - but, if anyone can tell me I'd welcome an explanation.