THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
For me a party to celebrate my birthday was a non event coming as it does
just after the Christmas festivities. I say ‘was’ because so little notice of
the event was ever taken of it; after all with so much emphasis on
Christmas there is little time to consider anything else. Harassed
housewives are people to avoid and to ask the question “what about
my party this year?” is asking for trouble. So with the passing years
I have accepted my lot and have sunk into a state of resignation. After all there is always New Year and Spring yet to come.
But this particular year was to be different. My lovely wife suddenly announced in an unguarded moment that for my seventieth birthday she was going to arrange a party for me, and since it would not be costing me a penny I could sit back and enjoy my birthday. All the family had promised to come and arm twisting was kept to a minimum.
The house was turned upside down, furniture being moved around or stacked up where it would cause least inconvenience to guests. My wife was by now in top gear and was busy arranging tables along the wall with beautiful tablecloths arranged to maximum effect. The event was to be celebrated by a buffet meal as you will have surmised and questions were being directed to me as to what dishes would be acceptable . How should I know?! What a useless individual I was proving to be. Lack of experience was offered but this was received rather coldly. What about cousin Chris coming from Dover? He was known to be difficult with his food – medical reasons were cited and of course Phyl his wife was beyond the pale, impossible! There again my other cousin coming from Surrey knew absolutely everything about everything and had the reputation of being able to spot the slightest error in presentation. Politely of course, making sure everyone around heard his commanding word.
By this time I was beginning to wish that birthdays were once a century, though now it was too late to call the whole thing off. Cards were beginning to arrive with messages and slogans congratulating me on the magnificent achievement of reaching the age of seventy. I didn’t care a hoot, for me it was just another milestone. However I did appreciate all the effort being put into the event, particularly by my wife who was being ably assisted by my two daughters, accompanied by their respective husbands, who had arrived early to help with the arrangements so I suggested that we men might get out of the way by going off to the nearby pub for a short while. Surprisingly this suggestion was accepted with universal approval by the women present, and with some relief we made it to my local. By the time we got back more guests had arrived and the atmosphere, helped by a few drinks, was much more convivial. I was beginning to enjoy my birthday.
So we arrived at the time when ‘happy birthday’ is sung and a toast to the embarrassed person in offered, the dread speech has been achieved. At last what a relief. Everyone said what a great day it had been and having said farewell to the last guest we fell back exhausted, but happy that all had gone well.
My next birthday party would be my eightieth, although actually it would be best held say in June, that would make me eighty and a half but, “hold on” said my wife, “that would mean that you get two birthdays, though not in the same year!” How could this be possible? There was only one precedent which I knew of ….HM the Queen had two birthdays – her normal one and her official one. After all if it was good enough for the Queen, why shouldn’t this humble subject also be entitled to so indulge. My wife reluctantly agreed!
And so it was some ten and a half years later on a bright sunny day we were able to make use of the garden this time and enjoy its warmth and the balmy atmosphere. It was clear to me why I should have two birthdays.
It will take another six years before I’m able to celebrate my ninetieth but that will be another story.