On Saturday it was my wife’s birthday party. We took a week out from the narrowboat and our sons rented a cottage for us in Barley, a little village in a very pretty part of Lancashire. The party was mainly organised by my two brothers in law (Andrew and Stephen) and me. Mandy had asked for lots of family and friends in an informal setting. Andrew had found a village hall in Roughlee and had used WhatsApp over six months to send out invitations, chase people up, and ask for music choices. Stephen sorted a barrel of ale and hired glasses. I had a birthday cake made and organised a hog roast. Lots of others got involved and brought food and drink. In the end we had about 60 guests enjoying themselves.
Everyone seemed to relax. But I felt quite stressed during the day. I was worried about everything that could go wrong. Would the rain hold off? Would everyone turn up? Would the pig arrive in time to be cooked? Were we making too much noise for the neighbours? Was everyone happy? Would there be enough food and drink?
It was an odd situation for me because before retirement I had a high pressure job and had a natural ability to stay calm and relaxed amongst the stress. I wonder if the difference is delegation. When I was working I had ultimate trust in my team. My job was just to see the big picture and make decisions when needed. At the party I completely trusted what Stephen and Andrew had done, but I felt that anything I had organised, and the overall party were down to me. Mandy is usually the organiser of events like this, and I knew she would judge me against her standards on anything that went wrong.
Well the good news is that it was a big success. At the end of the evening when everyone had gone home and most had gone to bed, I sat with one of my sons and a glass of Talisker malt whisky and reflected on what a great time we had had. Was it stressful or fun? Perhaps both in equal measure. But it did feel good.