So there we were, yesterday morning, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I, knee-deep in preparations for Hazel’s Birthday Barbecue Mark 2.
Organising the food? Setting out chairs in the garden? Checking the barbecue? Sweeping the floor? Well, no, actually we were sorting out the Candle Tin.
I am sure most households own one. A Candle Tin that is. It’s the tin in which you save all the birthday candles which have ever (i) graced a birthday cake or (ii) failed to make it onto a birthday cake or (iii) been saved up for “next time.”
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters has a tin crammed full of candles and it is this tin which, completely ignoring everything else that needed to be done, she decided we simply must sort.
It started as a relatively simple task to find 14 candles which were either completely unused or, at the very least, hardly used at all so that, once lit, nobody would know the difference. The Darling Daughter tipped
the contents of the tin out on the kitchen work surface for me and then couldn’t resist trying to bring some order to chaos. Nothing else would do but we had to sort out the entire contents of the tin. First of all we picked out all the candles
shaped like figures. Some of them were a little burnt down but all more or less recognisable so back into the empty tin they went. Next we found, after much searching, thirteen unused candles and one candle which played “Happy Birthday” to
you when lit. We tried it out a few times to make sure. It was note perfect.
The next step was to decide which of the used candles were redeemable and which
of the candle holders should make it back into the tin. Some of the candle holders, we were ashamed to see, still bore the remains of the chocolate cakes into which they had been thrust on previous Birthday Celebration(s). Finally we consigned to the rubbish
bin a number of burnt down candles (can’t think why we saved them in the first place) and several others which were so thin that they couldn’t stand upright in any of the candle holders. We had to try them all out to make sure which was a time-consuming task.
“See, that didn’t take long, did it?” declared my darling daughter, adding wasn’t there something satisfying about sorting out tins of stuff.
For one scary moment I thought she was going to look around for something else we could sort – maybe the basket with all the coloured pencils and felt tip pens in it. Now that’s a real Exercise in Sorting. You have to try out all the felt
tip pens on scraps of old paper to see if they still work and then turn out all the drawers in the search for a pencil sharpener so that you can sharpen all the coloured pencils which are blunt (i.e. all of them.) Fortunately the Y of the DDs seemed to have
satisfied her Sorting Complex for the time being and was happy to return to the party preparations.
The barbecue was a great success. Young Faris turned up (like
his mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, he never misses a party if he can help it) and was passed from teenager to teenager to be cuddled and admired. As always he handled the demands of his Adoring Public with quite outstanding equilibrium for one
who is but four months old.
Initially the party crowd divided into two – those desperate to watch Andy Murray win his first Wimbledon and those who
couldn’t care less and preferred to laze in the sun-soaked garden. Each to his or her own. Teenage parties may be loud but at least different interests can be accommodated. It used to be much harder trying to persuade a dozen or more five year olds to
play “The Farmer’s in his Den”, knowing that there was no way you could let a single child loose in your house on account of the havoc which might be caused. “Come on,” I used to carol, in a crazy tone of false enthusiasm,
“If you play, you can be the farmer...” If ever I tried to take refuge in the kitchen, Mr B would thrust me back into the fray, urging desperately: “You can’t leave them ALONE in there!”
As you can see from the photo illustrating today’s Blog, the candles I rescued from the Candle Tin didn’t burn brightly for very long - but only because I had to carry the cake into the garden where a sly breeze
blew out all the candles before the Birthday Girl had summoned up enough puff to tackle the job herself.
The clearing up was surprisingly easy. The Birthday Girl
went off to bed tired but happy. I came home on the train this morning, content that I had played a small part in helping make the weekend a success and happy to know that, for now at least, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters probably has the tidiest
and best-organised Candle Tin in the whole of Hampshire.
If not on the planet....