The Sultan spent millions on caviar and the finest champagne. As part of his momentous celebration he flew in Michael Jackson. The total bill for his 50th birthday party topped £18 million. It was one of the most elaborate celebrations and Prince Charles was among the guests.
The Sultan’s 60th birthday ten years later in 2006 was much less decadent, but it still featured a military parade, a canon salute, foreign dignitaries, a fireworks display and huge posters bearing the monarch’s likeness which decorated city buildings. Aside from actual royalty and Hollywood stars, the only folks eligible for extremely lavish birthday celebrations are the ones who can foot the spiralling bill.
One American billionaire celebrated his 84th birthday with a 12-hour bash. Musical performances from Christina Aguilera and Bette Midler and a stand-up routine from Robin Williams entertained a crowd of nearly 500 guests.
With no gold reserves in the basement or locked in a vault in the big smoke, I opted for a less extravagant birthday party. There was no diamond encrusted fruit cake designed by a Tokyo chef, no electronic invitations, no galloping horses, performances by superstars, lavish cars or jewellery. Instead I opted for a day out on the river at £9 per head. Eight of us paddled along in kayaks and two of my friends, eager to stay dry, opted for a canoe. Thirty minutes later we docked on a grass verge and sat with cider in hand.
The return journey was rather more eventful with six light headed twenty somethings ending up in the river after capsizing each others boats. Who needs a performance by the King of Pop when you have cider, kayaks and canoes?