Turning 35 is potentially a big thing. In theory, it's the last 'big birthday' before the epic 4-0. For me, I was thinking after last year's horrendous 'special day', this year was 'to be sure' much better.
The week before we went out for a team meal to one of our favourite European restaurants in Changzhou, Summer. It was a quadruple celebration for Assistant Academic Manager Nick Wallbank (he always insists on being referred to by his full title), brother Andrew, Uncle G-man Gareth and my good self - all being March babies.
It just so happens this restaurant was holding a special 'western/American traditional celebration' of St Paddy's Day. The cocktails were green and, perhaps more interestingly, so was the beer. I think we all instantly knew: tonight would be far better if nobody threw up.
Before the 'Irish-styled cuisine' there was an obligatory drinking competition. I didn't enter as it involved downing a bottle of Guiness in the shortest time possible, and I'm not a fan of the black stuff exactly. Our South African hunk Gareth G-man Goodman won the competition easily, polishing off a whole 75cl in approximately 25 minutes.
After that we all got invited up on stage to receive a cheer and a complimentary beverage - of course it was the black stuff. And yes, naturally we had to down it in one. Gun bei (empty glass) people! It's the Chinese way you understand. Normally we're all very respectable teachers.
We made some new friends too - another cool British teacher Ishan and a smooth Brazilian businessman El Carlos. Ironically, the only Irishman in the city we know - Peter (Irish in Asia 2012; yes I did pinch his wicked graphic) - wasn't there.
Regardless, I heard this amazing saying recently and I'm sticking to it: "If you haven't grown up by the time you're 35 - you don't need to." Amen to that.