Our postman, a cheerful chappie, appears to have a pathological fear of bending birthday cards.
It would seem to be a bit of a career breaker, but presumably it wasn't
something they tested out at interview when he went for the job. Maybe it's a topic covered these days at the Postman Pat Academy of Postal Arts? Be that as it may, whenever there are cards to be delivered at our house there will be a loud knock on the door
and there he will be, bless him, smiling on the doorstep and saying apologetically: "I didn't want to bend your cards!"
So deep is his concern that yesterday when Mr B and I returned from our lovely, lazy
lunch with Delia and Jim, we found two birthday cards tucked, not completely out of sight, behind the flower pot on our doorstep. A card pushed through the door explained, predictably: "Cards on doorstep. Didn't want to bend them." Suppose, I said to Mr B,
we were away for the weekend. Suppose it had rained while we were away so that both cards were rendered a soggy mess, so much so that I would not be able to work out who had sent them. Mr B replied, with irrefutable logic, that we weren't and it hadn't.
It is also true that, because of our postman's thoughtfulness, we do not have to make a journey down to the sorting office, where I would probably have to park precariously on double yellow lines while I dashed inside,
personal ID at the ready, to claim my birthday greetings. Once upon a very long time ago there was a long-running saga played out between my sister's family and mine involving a Christmas chocolate log. For months this delicacy was passed between us: they
would hide it somewhere in our house where it would lie, undiscovered, for simply ages. Once unearthed from its hiding place, we would be sure to take it with us next time we went to visit so that we could secrete it away in their house. And so it went on.
On one occasion, I am pretty sure, the Original Log gave birth to mini chocolate logs but, perhaps fortunately, I can't remember the grim details. In case you think I am digressing, I must complete
the tale by telling you that we returned from a holiday abroad one day to find a card saying a parcel was awaiting our collection from the sorting office. Yes, you are there before me - it was, indeed, a squashed and squishy parcel containing The Chocolate
Log. The staff at the sorting office told us they had been eagerly anticipating our return so that they could find out what was in this most mysterious parcel. This story tells you a lot, I reckon, about the relationship between the Balls (as in, our family)
and the Suttons (as in, my sister's family.)
My sister and her fella were the first to phone today with birthday wishes. They sang Happy Birthday in their own, inimitable, tuneless fashion. It took days of
practice, my sister assured me, to sing so very badly. Later in the day, the Little Welsh Boys serenaded me - in both English and Welsh - from their bath. The splish, splash accompaniment was much appreciated from a distance.
The Eldest of the Darling Daughters rang and was perturbed to hear that her card and present had not been delivered. Indeed, it was after twelve noon when she phoned and I was beginning to wonder if it would arrive at all. I promised to text as soon
as it did. There was no sign of our postman coming along the road as Mr B and I set out to catch the bus into town where he was taking me for a slap-up meal in one of our favourite restaurants.
When we returned,
replete from our delicious lunch, there were no birthday cards on the door-mat, or tucked behind the flower pot, or anywhere to be seen. I had a few harsh words to say about the Postal System, the cost of postage, and the Dashing of Great Expectations.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters telephoned and was just as upset that her birthday greetings had not arrived. We were harrumphing about How Things Are Going Downhill These Days when I heard the unmistakable sound
of post dropping through the letterbox. Three more birthday cards, none of them so large that they would have to be bent in order to make it, unscathed, through the letter-box. One of the cards was from the Y of the DDs, she was delighted to hear.
Still no present and card though from her older sister and it's already 4.30 p.m. Presumably it won't be delivered until Monday now and will it come in time before I head off for the airport to join the Middle of the
Darling Daughters on holiday? But what's this? A loud rat-a-tat-tat on the door. It's our postman, broad grin on his face, large parcel held out invitingly to me. I told him how pleased I was to see him - and how grateful that the cards had turned up a few
minutes earlier. "That was me, too!" he said, proudly. I could have kissed him, right there on the doorstep but it's probably better not to scare your postman.
Thank you to everyone who has spared a thought
for me on my birthday, for the messages on Facebook, the e-mails and the birthday cards - both of the bendable and the virtual variety. Thank you to the sun for shining all day. And thank you to my cheery postman for caring about the State of My Post.
I am, indeed, a Lucky Person.