Today is Somebody's special day. Happy Birthday, Mr B!
As regular readers will doubtless recall, Mr B is not the least bit bothered about his birthday. That is true for
this year, next year and all the years, past and future. At least I know where I stand.
"Are you having a good day?" the Youngest of the Darling Daughters wanted to know, when she telephoned to wish him well
this afternoon. "Oh, yes," he replied, "it's lovely and QUIET!" Personally, I didn't think that was the general idea, where birthdays are concerned.
I came downstairs this morning bearing gifts, like one of
the Three Wise Men who'd managed to get left behind and was hot-footing it to the stable before it was too late. I'd already accumulated a stash of birthday cards delivered by our new postie over the last several days. He doesn't push them through the letter-box
because, he says, he doesn't want to bend them. He is clearly seeking to Make his Mark with his new customers. "Someone's popular!" he commented today when I opened the door to gather in the latest crop. I felt like inviting him in to wish the Birthday Boy
a Happy Birthday. I reckon he would have accepted the invitation too.
"When do you want to open your cards and presents?" I asked, innocently, sitting at the table beside his little pile of assorted birthday
greetings. I am agog with excitement, even though it's his birthday, not mine. Mr B waved at the TV where the latest cricket match in something called "The Big Bash" was being played out and responded, with some exasperation:"Not for at least another three
Which tells you all you need to know about the priority he places on the entire Birthday Business.
Nevertheless, when the first innings was over and
he finally turned his attention to ripping open cards and presents, he did express sincere pleasure at being remembered by so many people. Our Boy and his family had sent him a card with a lugubrious looking bulldog on the front, accompanied by the words:
"Another birthday ...and Brian could hardly contain the excitement". Someone knows his Dad only too well. The card from the Eldest of the Darling Daughters depicts a man sprawled out on a sofa, eyes shut and newspapers strewn across his body. "Dad was expert
at watching TV with his eyes closed..." read the caption beneath. Inside our daughter has written: "Sorry - another of those cards that you just HAVE to buy - it even looks a bit like you, years ago!!" I take another look at the comatose chap on the front
of the card and, yes, he does look a bit like Mr B when he (i) was much younger and (ii) had a lot more hair.
I tell Mr B that I will walk down to the shops to fetch his daily paper. It will give me an opportunity
to pick up a birthday cake for him, though of course I don't tell him that. The sun is just peeping through when I set off but by the time I head for home, having run my errands, the sky is looking very black and the wind is cruelly whipping through my hair.
Why do we talk about "running errands" by the way? You won't catch me running, or even skipping, from shop to shop these days. Far too dangerous.
We have our lunch, after which - on the pretext of
making yet another cup of coffee - I closet myself in the kitchen to prepare the cake. I wanted to buy a chocolate cake but the Co-op only had a carrot variety. With only two of us, it needed to be small but perfectly formed. I didn't even realise till I reached
the check-out that it was reduced in price. A Bargain Birthday Cake. Mr B would approve, I am sure. In one of the kitchen drawers I know there is a set of candles which spell out the words Happy Birthday. They have been used once before but I don't think anyone
would know, not once they are lit.
Unfortunately, when I come to position them atop the carrot cake, I realise that I am missing two letters - an "H" and a "Y". My greeting therefore reads: "APP BIRTHDAY"
which sounds like something the grandchildren might find on YouTube. Mr B, bless him, doesn't even notice the strange wording, being blown away by this unexpected treat. At least I think he is, though he does point out, when I insist on taking a photograph
of the Happy Birthday Scene, that the candle wax is dripping all over the cake. This may possibly be attributed to the fact that these are Second Time Around candles, I suppose, but I'm not going to let on.
Tonight one of our lovely U3A friends is hosting a birthday dinner for him. I am touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. Her invitation also neatly lets me off the hook of trying to work out what he might like for dinner and whether it's something
I can cook. Plus it will be a bit more of an occasion than just the two of us, sitting at home watching TV - even though Mr B would almost certainly be perfectly content with that.
"I'm afraid this is a very
low-key birthday, isn't it?" I say, concerned at what I could have done and haven't done, rather than what I have pulled out of the Birthday Bag.
"Just the way I like it!" pronounces Mr B.
And there you have it - what's the good of a birthday if you can't do (exactly) what you like?