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

Gah I was so young

Everyone’s giving the new Lady Diana film a kicking because apparently it’s bloody awful, but I’ll never know because I’m not going to watch it. I’m going to allow that minor thunderstorm to rumble past while I get busy getting on with my life.

It’s nice getting on with your life, isn’t it? You get to go to the toilet, you have an okay time in pubs, you celebrate birthdays, you go to weddings, you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner or breakfast, dinner and tea depending on how posh you are. But let’s rewind for a second and go back to ‘celebrating birthdays’, and then let’s pause on that sentiment and go back even further to ‘Lady Diana’.

Birthdays, and the words “Lady Diana”.  Birthdays and Diana.

Now picture me on my 21st birthday. The morning was hot, the normal rays of light were beaming down onto the planet, but they were particularly potent that morning. I was sweaty and excited, brimming with joy as I awoke in fits of euphoric laughter because I was about to embark on the greatest day of my life. I was turning 21, which meant 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. 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. Being that it was before lunchtime and I was just out of bed, there’s a 97 per cent chance I had a full erection.

As you may or may not remember, in the olden days (1990s) no one had mobile phones. We’d literally have to ring each others’ parents on landlines and put on our most sensible voices while we dictated muddled messages about meeting up with their kids. Then we’d blindly head off to various hot spots fully expecting everyone to be there. And (would you Adam and Eve it?) they would be, they’d be there, because in those days you just did things. You didn’t quadruple check. It was a beautiful time.

On this particular day, I’d been thorough and well-prepped. I’d started spreading the word weeks in advance. My 21st was coming up, gentle celebrations would commence at the dangerously early time of 2pm at The Royal Oak in Oxford. We’d stroll to different pubs enjoying a conveyor belt of weak lager, we’d top those up with a couple of shifty gin and tonics, pre-mixed, and smuggled in (probably in Evian bottles). We’d stumble around, slur, puke a bit, at least three people would burst into tears unannounced, we’d have a snog, attempt dancing, smear chips and garlic mayo into our faces. Then it’d be home to pass out fully-clothed.

Brilliant basically.

But no.

“Have you heard about Diana?” asked my mum as I headed downstairs beaming on 31st August 1997 (my birthday). “She 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. My party plans disappeared into a murky tunnel. Tearful cancellations streamed in that day like a maelstrom into a gutter, and the few of us who did manage to squash our anguish and brave having a good time were faced with sombre pubs and complaints from locals who felt we “shouldn’t be laughing at a time like this”.

There is no upside to this story. Except that I did get to snog a girl on a bench. She smelled like flowers. She’s now my wife. She’s not, I just wanted to say that.

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