We were out for a birthday meal last night to celebrate grand-daughter Hazel's sixteenth birthday (albeit a day early.) Mr B, Hazel's dad and I had arrived first and been shown to our table. The other four making up our
party, including the Birthday Girl, were being chauffeured by her older brother Jack who has recently passed his driving test.
We could see the rearguard action arriving through the pub's picture window. Hazel's
Dad duly waved at them, after which I took over, jumping up and down and waving excitedly through the window. I am, as I have told you several times before, one of Life's Wavers.
The Youngest of the Darling
Daughters pointed out as she took her seat at our table that my over-enthusiastic greeting had not been well-received by Miss Sweet Sixteen. Her Dad's wave, which could have been described, charitably, as purely directional, had been greeted by a "How embarrassing!"
While my bountiful greeting had led her to hide her face in her hands and mutter: "Social suicide!" If she were my teacher and I her pupil, she would have had me writing out: "I must not be annoyingly embarrassing" a hundred times in my very best script.
Obviously she could not be too cross with me for had I not made her birthday cake with my Own Fair Hands (albeit guided at every point by the Almighty Delia)? While she and her brother were performing on stage at The
Anvil Theatre yesterday afternoon (that is, Hazel, not the Almighty Delia, you understand), I was mixing up buttercream icing and positioning chocolate stars and candles atop my cake creation. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters, texting her friend Wendy,
let slip that we were engaged on Cake Decorating Business. This was a mistake because Wendy came back immediately, requesting pictures of the "amazing cake" she assumed to be in the making. My daughter loyally sent a photo or two and dear Wendy, gallantly
hiding her disappointment that my cake was notable for its ordinariness, texted back: "Fab cake!" Or words to that effect.
While it may not have won prizes for sugar craft, my cake did taste delicious, though
I say so myself as shouldn't. So good was it that Jack had not one, not two, but three crafty slices. Like his Nan, Our Jack is Always Thinking About His Stomach. Delia would have been delighted had she but known.
Our present, hastily opened this morning before Hazel set off for her ballet exam, also went down well but then so it should have done as she chose it herself. Our birthday dress, she pointed out, looked just like the one worn by Amanda Seyfried in
the film of Mamma Mia. I knew it reminded me of someone.
Fancy having a ballet exam on your birthday! What exquisitely poor timing. I suggested that Hazel should pin a couple of "16 today" badges onto her
leotard just to make sure the examiner did not spoil her day but I should have remembered that such frivolity would be frowned upon. Turnout is as important in a ballet exam as it is in, for example, dressage - which is rather like a ballet exam for horses.
I'd never thought of that before. Not that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about dressage, you understand, but I'm just saying. I still remember when the Middle of the Darling Daughters took her ballet exams - invariably with a large plaster
on both knees covering up the latest scrapes.
If it had not been Hazel's birthday today, then I would have been out with the Birdy Group this morning. I never like to pass up on a morning bird-watching with
the Lovely Linda and Co - but it's important, I always think, to get one's priorities right. Besides, listening to the Birthday Girl singing on stage last night and watching the video of her previewing her role as the Narrator in a forthcoming production of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, I reflected on the fact that I had my very own songbird, right here, right now.
One day, much too soon - but not yet, not yet! - our beautiful, sassy, crazy songbird
will fly the nest and soar high, like the larks ascending on Highdown Hill.
For now as she opens her presents with squeals of delight at each and every one; or practises for her ballet exam with exaggerated
grunts to make sure we know how very hard it is; or makes elaborate plans, right down to the colour of her nail varnish - party girl that she is - for tonight's birthday shenanigans with her school friends, she's just a Crazy Kid at Heart.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen! Keep singing and soaring, my darling songbird, like the lark you are.