Everyone knows that if your birthday has a nought on the end, then it can be classed as a Significant Event.
This year already, three people in my near circle have turned
80, while my friend Lucy turned 70 last week (combining such a momentous occasion with a Silver Wedding Celebration which earns her double points of course.) Tomorrow Young Sam, the Oldest of the (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys moves into Double Figures and
celebrates his very first Significantly Noughty Birthday. Ten years old! Where did that last decade go, for goodness' sake?
Sam and I have a long conversation on the telephone during which I quiz him on Present
Preferences. I know what you are thinking: haven't I left it a teeny bit late? Never fear, Sam and his family will be here next weekend so that the Ten Year Old can enjoy what we like to call a "Worthing Birthday." So long as I've bought our present by Friday,
all will be well.
Sam provides me with a list of ideas, all of them Lego-Related. Some Lego sets, he tells me, are really, really expensive: "And I don't want you to spend too much money on me," he says, gravely.
At the other end of the line, I melt a little inside.
I've been trying to contact the Almost Birthday Boy over the last few days via FaceTime so that we can have this Most Important Conversation - but apparently
he has been banned from using his IPad for two days. I don't enquire as to the reason for the ban; in my view it is better not to dwell on matters which are none of my business. Sam says maybe we will be able to FaceTime tomorrow, it being his birthday and
all. Presumably the ban will be lifted by then? Even if not, I can always telephone, I suggest, just so long as Grandad and I can sing Happy Birthday. Sam is non-committal but then he has heard us sing before.
have a fun weekend ahead of us with Sam and Co, culminating in our Family Beach Day on Sunday when around thirty of us are expected to gather on Littlehampton beach. What shall we do on the Saturday? I ask. Sam says he'd like to go into town with me. On the
bus. "I like going on the bus with you," he says. It strikes me that it's not going to take too much to please this particular visitor.
I always wonder, however, whether my grandchildren do really want to
do "All the Things We Usually Do" or whether they are simply keen to keep me happy. Do they secretly hanker after Something Completely Different? Eleanor, the fourth eldest of the Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren, who is coming to stay for a few days of
post-GCSE pampering, reminds me that there is such a thing as Tradition. I sometimes think that Eleanor and her elder sister Katie are even bigger on tradition than I am. And, believe me, that's saying something.
My cunning plan is always to introduce a few new pastimes, well mixed with the traditional, so that they can be instantly assimilated without ever appearing to threaten the status quo. After all, nobody would want still to be playing My Dog Has Fleas
or baking Sparkling Rocket Cakes or performing puppet plays once they'd reached A Great Age, now would they? Well, unless they happen to be me, of course, introducing each new grandchild to the delights of cooking, performing and catching fleas. Of the yellow,
blue and green plastic variety, I hasten to add.
So in between making beds, writing long shopping lists, planning meals and fashioning a whole new "look" for the Giant Penguin, I need to come up with a few
surprises suitably exciting for a Significant Birthday.
After all it's not only a birthday with a nought on the end, special event though that always is. It's Double Figures too. Between now and Friday, when
the Welsh Contingent arrive, I will be in overdrive. Mr B will despair of me, I'll be absolutely unbearable. It will be SUCH fun! I'm off and racing.
At the double...