It's a sickness, breeding a future race of spoiled brides and pampered tinies who want ice-cream with everything or else. In the shop's archive, stiff cards for ancient Republican fund-raisers were kept under acid-free tissue alongside invites to the cocktail parties, bar mitzvahs, Hollywood weddings and birthday bashes held by long-forgotten senators, film directors and mothballed actresses. Liz leads the way as Britons learn to party. A string of ceremonies and celebrations from Gloucestershire to Rajasthan will mark her marriage to businessman Arun Nayar, in the kind of ostentatious style that would make a Byzantine despot blush. I'm not the type to shy away from tough assignments.
Last night on The Madness of Modern Families, a new BBC2 series produced by Madonna Benjamin, some weary parents expressed their exasperation at the upsurge in birthday extremism.
Polly braves the polar chill
It's strange, isn't it, that we are a nanny state until the Government gets the scent of loot in its greedy nostrils. These are different times, but Scott and Shackleton would no doubt approve of Polly Hatchard, the year-old Royal Navy aircraft engineer who has just successfully trekked with a sledge to the South Pole. Certainly, it takes a brave woman to insist that male guests wear turbans, but the year-old bride is so thrilled with herself and forthcoming marriage that even her usual faint grasp of everyday reality seems to have evaporated. No wonder the British Medical Association says excessive gambling should be treated as an addiction, like smoking and drinking. Scientists devise method to gather water from fog, condensation.