We were a little late taking our places in the big barn (known colloquially as "The Bloody Barn" on account of any number of blood-thirsty battles and other spine-chilling events in a long and mainly glorious history dating
back to King Henry VIII himself.) Yesterday's event, a concert by the local operatic society and their associated youth group, promised to be a more peaceful affair.
We had been delayed by a Dogs and
Ducks Diversion. Sitting in the pub garden over a coffee and / or beer, we were about to make a move when two excitable puppies took the attention of our equally excitable youngest boy. Young Faris is exhibiting all the signs of being just as much an animal
lover as most of his older cousins. Having introduced himself to the puppies through a combination of shrill shrieks, much pointing and occasional lunges for their tails, Faris was only coaxed away by the sight of a small girl feeding the ducks. The girl's
mother offered Faris a piece of stale bread and showed him how to throw it towards the beaky ones. Faris, who as regular readers know is an Ace Thrower, probably destined to be a champion shot-putter of Olympian standard, refused to let go of the bread, but
chased after his new friends instead. One could not help but notice the distinct similarity between Faris's waddle and that of the ducks.
Arriving outside the barn, we were surprised not to find any
picnickers outside. Perhaps we were early, rather than late? No such luck. Entering the barn it was already more than half full of camping chairs, picnic tables, rugs strewn on the floor, cool bags and flasks - not to mention a good few bottles of wine. We
were going to be well back from the stage when the performance began. Some people had brought high-backed chairs which didn't bode well for the poor unfortunates in their low-slung deckchairs behind them. That would be us, then.
My fellow grandmother, the really rather wonderful Jean, somehow managed to be wearing exactly the same clothes as me. Once again, I found myself looking like one of twins. If the Youngest of the Darling Daughters had only
had the courage to wear her beige trousers and black top, we could have looked like triplets. It would not surprise me if she hadn't made a quick, strategic change of clothing when she saw the lie of the land. As it was, Jean and I contented ourselves
with being the Twin Grannies.
The day was a special one for more than one reason. Not only because of the concert but because it was Hazel's fifteenth birthday. Her friend's mother had made her a fantastic
birthday cake. I didn't understand the decoration on the top but apparently this was because I haven't either read the book or seen the film of that new teen-weepie The Fault in our Stars. One day, when they are not too busy somebody may explain it to
me. Anyway, we transported the cake along to the barn where everyone sang Happy Birthday in a tuneful fashion and the Birthday Girl carried it around offering absolutely everyone a slice, whether she knew them or not. Generosity is her middle name.
The concert went well. Team Baldwin excelled, as always. We arrived home just in time to catch the end of the fourth set of the Wimbledon final and had just about time to watch the rest of the match before setting off
for the curry house. Hazel and her friend Zoe decided to wear exactly the same dress, so looking even more like twins than Jean and I. Maybe we are setting a trend?
After our meal at the Gate of India
(the restauarant not the actual, well, gateway to amother country, you understand), we were on the point of leaving when one of the staff arrived carrying an Egg Man ice cream, complete with three lighted candles, and singing the most out of tune rendition
of Happy Birthday you have ever heard. It was a kind and thoughtful, if not particularly musical touch to end our birthday meal. The Egg Man reminded us of cousin Eleanor (who will be the next to celebrate her birthday) who was renowned for always studying
the dessert menu with diligent attention at our local Indian restaurant before announcing: "I think I'll have an Egg Man!"
Back at home there was no rest for the Birthday Girl as she had to prepare for her
final interview at school today for the much coveted position of Head Girl. I was given the task of asking her the questions she might be asked the following day. How would she feel, I asked her, if she didn't make it to the top spot? She responded that she
would be proud of herself for getting so far in the process and for achieving as much as she had done. "And I will be the first to congratulate the new Head Girl and will say that I will be behind her all the way!"
Dear Hazel, you have indeed achieved so very much already in your fifteen years and who knows what the future will hold? On stage and off it, birthday or no birthday, Head Girl or not, you light up my life - and everyone else's.
My sweet, my beautiful, my Golden Girl.