It didn't seem quite fair to be enjoying a lovely lunch out - without the Birthday Boy.
There we were, two of the Darling Daughters, my best friend Pat from schooldays,
her daughter Pip (my god-daughter), the Twinkles (aka Tala and Lilia), Mr B and me. We had taken over our favourite corner in Bill's at Wimbledon where we meet, two or three times a year to enjoy lunch, cuddle babies and exchange news. Young Faris was at nursery
and therefore notable by his absence. It was strangely quiet without him but doubtless he was having a great time, ruling the roost in Toddler Two.
The one person
who should have been there but wasn't was My Boy, brother to the Darling Daughters, who was celebrating his birthday yesterday, miles away in Cardiff. I had it firmly in my head that we needed to FaceTime him so that we could all toast him on his birthday.
Apparently this needed to be before 1 p.m. when he would be enjoying a birthday lunch.
So we settled ourselves down with our first round of drinks (I had a coffee because I was a bit chilly after walking from
the train station even though it wasn't that far) and the Middle of the DDs tried to connect us via her mobile phone. "He's not picking up," she warned me - but "Keep trying!" I said. This is what mothers do. I remember one Christmas holiday, many years ago,
when my eldest grand-daughter, Katie, was staying with us. Her mother was trying to get in touch with us but for some reason was having trouble making contact. "Don't worry," said Katie, "Mummy never gives up!" I have always thought that was, perhaps, the
one of the sweetest compliments a daughter could pay her mother.
Patience was rewarded. My Boy was there, on his sister's mobile phone, where we could all raise a toast to him and wish him a Happy Birthday.
So where was he, do you think, on this most auspicious occasion? A beach in sunny Barbados? Wandering Las Ramblas in beautiful Barcelona? No, he was in TKMaxx in Cardiff. Now that's what you call style.
passed the phone round the table so that we could each add our birthday greetings. The Twinkles didn't have a lot to say but they both looked completely adorable, truly scrumptious and with that their Uncle Steven had to be content.
Lunch was most appetising, for One Who Is Always Thinking About Her Stomach. I wasn't going to have a pudding but the Youngest of the Darling Daughters said why didn't we share mini cinnamon doughnuts with strawberries and chocolate
sauce? I couldn't say no, really. If I had declined then it was perfectly likely that she, too, would have denied herself. I couldn't have that on my conscience, really I couldn't.
One of the best things about
Bill's is that nobody ever rushes you. I honestly believe that you could book a table for a breakfast of Eggs Benedict, linger on over lunch, order toasted tea cakes for Afternoon Tea, then settle in for the evening with steak and all the trimmings. We haven't
actually put this theory to the test but give us time. Maybe I could "Eat All Day at Bill's" for charity? I could open up a Just Giving page and post pictures of the various dishes I would sample. My one reservation - and I think it is a sound one - is that
charity fund raisers are generally supposed to involve some kind of self-sacrifice or feat of endurance. However, I think I may just have hit on a Great New Idea here. Inviting donations for doing something thoroughly enjoyable. Like breakfast, lunch, afternoon
tea and dinner at Bill's. I wonder how much I could raise? And how many people would join me in a Thoroughly Enjoyable Fund Raising Initiative. Comic Relief without the red noses.
Throughout our three hour lunch, the Twinkles were passed round the table several times. It was just like Pass the Parcel but instead of unwrapping a gift, each lucky recipient delighted in trying to coax smiles out of the girlies. There was a lot of
tickling, making funny faces, smiling and cooing going on. Tala and Lilia took it all in their stride. Apparently they reserve their broadest, sunniest smiles for their Hero, Big Brother Faris. Even though, from time to time, his loving administrations are
just a touch, shall we say, heavy-handed?
Reluctantly we eventually had to call it a day. Pat and Pip made a run for their train, the Darling Daughters and the Twinkles decided to pay a visit to Tesco Metro,
and Mr B and I took a more leisurely stroll to the station. There were lots of farewell hugs and kisses to be shared around and promises to set another date when Pip's sister, Cheryl, is home from the US of A.
Middle of the Darling Daughters warns that Young Faris will probably join us next time. We won't be able to play Pass the Parcel with him as we did with the Twinkles. Can Bill's cope with a Rampaging Toddler?
may soon find out.