Here’s a story about how the greatest day of all time was RUINED…

Published: 18th Sep, 2013

Gah I was so young and slightly creepy looking…

Everyone’s giving the new Lady Diana film a bit of a kicking because apparently it’s bloody awful, but I’ll never know exactly how it fares on the shit-o-metre because I’m not going to watch it. I’m going to allow that minor thunderstorm to rumble past while I just get on with my life.

It’s nice to just get on with your life, you get to enjoy your visits to the toilet in peace, you have good times in bars with your buddies, you celebrate your birthdays, you go to other people’s weddings, you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner or breakfast, dinner and tea or brunch, tiffin and supper depending on how posh you are. But let’s rewind for a second to something I wrote literally a sentence and a half ago when I mentioned celebrating birthdays, and then let’s pause on that sentiment and pop it in your pocket and then go back even further to the first few words of this piece, specifically where I wrote “Lady Diana”.

So now we’re awkwardly standing opposite one another marinating clumsily on the idea of celebrating birthdays, and the words “Lady Diana”.  Birthdays. And Diana. Princess Diana. Goodbye Norma Jean. Mother of two sons. Died and was buried. Survived by her boys and their fathers Charles and Camilla.

Now picture this, it was my 21st birthday. The morning was hot, sunshine hot, the natural rays of light that beam down onto the planet – in this case onto a remote area called England – were particularly potent that morning like Zeus had yet to unleash himself on his wife Mrs Zeus and was channeling his energies elsewhere. I was sweaty and excited, brimming with joy as I awoke already in fits of euphoric laughter because I was about to embark on the single greatest day of my life. I was turning 21 which meant that all of my dreams of being able to visit America and confidently stride into a bar and order a beer for me and my gal and my mule had been realised. Now I just needed thousands of pounds and a valid reason to go to America, but that’s for another piece. If I were to peer through the mists of time I’d predict I looked something like wispy sideburns, Kappa tracksuit (full), a small mountain of hair, and being that it was before lunchtime and I was just out of bed, there’s a 97 per cent chance I still had a full erection. I was 21 which is about as good as life gets.

Of course back then, because no one had mobile phones, we’d have to ring up each others PARENTS and dictate hand scrawled messages to them about our night time arrangements with their offspring and then we’d blindly head off to meeting points fully expecting everyone to get the message and be there. And FUCKING HELL they would be, bold as brass, because in those days everyone just brazenly walked around the planet like they owned the place without having to double triple or quadruple check things. It was a beautiful time to be a youngster, although yes, sometimes you would get a garbled message from your mum and end up confused in a field of cows, but that’s just how it goes.

So this day I’d been thorough and well prepared, I’d been spreading the word for weeks that it was my 21st birthday coming up, so we were to meet at the ridiculously early time of 2pm at The Royal Oak in Oxford. We’d down a conveyor belt of lagers, occasionally top those up with shifty G&Ts pre-mixed in smuggled-in bottles. We’d stumble around, we’d probably puke a bit, at least three girls and one boy would burst into tears unannounced, people would randomly disappear off to do some light-hearted fingering, we might try to dance, we’d all smear giant dirty burgers into our faces and chuck bits of salad onto the pavement. Then it’d be home to pass out fully clothed.

But no.

“Have you heard the news about Princess Diana?” said my mum as I headed downstairs to demand my presents be given to me immediately. “She bloody DIED in a CAR CRASH.” My dad sat next to her his head in his hands (possibly) my brother and sisters wailed and beat the walls screaming WHY over and over again. My daytime and evening plans were chased into a murky tunnel and the celebration of the decade was left completely obliterated. Tearful cancellations from girls (and boys!) streamed in that day like things linked with grief that you might use in a metaphor about phone calls, and the few of us who did manage to hold down our howling outrage and tearful despair were faced with sombre pubs and even complaints from locals who felt that we “shouldn’t be laughing” at such an upsetting time.

There is no upside to this story. Except that I did get a snog on a bench from a girl who had boobs and a face and hair that smelled of flowers and beer.

Even so, thanks A LOT 31st August 1997! NOT!!

(Although I would also at this point like to say RIP Diana. No hard feelings. ALL TOGETHER NOW, Hail Mary full of grace etc…)

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

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