In the greetings card section in Tesco's superstore I meet up with Jane and Ian. They are looking for fancy paper in which to wrap a gift for their new-born great-niece. I am searching for similar wrap for a gift for my new-born great-nephew. We marvel
at the coincidence.
Jane and I agree we are somewhat disappointed at the lack of appealing Baby-Related gift wrap. Ian, however, who is considerably taller than either of us, has used his Great Height to look along the top row of gift wrapping
paper and has come across some which will suit either boy or girl. What's more, he crows, it's down to 75p for two sheets of paper and two gift cards. The paper is decorated with smiley clouds and the words "Hello Little One." The gift cards are individual
smiley clouds. We could buy three for the price of two but we are not sure we are going to be welcoming that many newborns to the world in the foreseeable future. It also appears that it is take it or leave it so into my basket it goes. All I need now is a
card and a present.
Jane and Ian's great-niece was born in Sunny Cyprus so they are combining their first visit to make her acquaintance with a fortnight's holiday. My great-nephew was born in Ilkley which is doubtless a Beautiful Birthplace -
but not exactly a holiday location.
His name is Alfie Jack which must have made my sister, his proud Nanna, smile with delight - the Alfie books by Shirley Hughes were her favourite bedtime reading for her trio when they (including baby Alfie's
Dad) were littl'uns. If you have never read an Alfie book then this is all you need to know about him: "He is an ordinary little boy. He has a mum and a Dad and a little sister called Annie Rose. He has no magical powers and does not go on fantastic journeys
into space or anything like that. But some very exciting and interesting things happen to him all the same." I am quoting from Alfie's World which sounds like exactly the same world into which new-born Alfie has arrived.
Alfie Jack's auntie, my
niece Debbie, is quick to point out that he and I share something quite special - a nickname. Years ago, Debs christened me AJ - short for Auntie Jaqui. I embraced my nickname with pride, even when a chain of American style diners opened up across the country.
After all, I was the first, the Original AJ. Now there is another, younger, undeniably sweeter, version. I am delighted to say.
I part company with Jane and Ian. They head off to the homeware section while I make for the fish counter to buy cod
loins, Mr B's Dinner of Choice for today. We will meet again over the brussel sprouts before our shopping trips are done. On my way, I stop to choose a gift for Alfie; the choice of baby gifts is, fortunately, more extensive than the selection of appropriate
gift wrap. I dither for ages before I make my final selection.
The lass on the check-out exclaims rapturously over my gift choice. "I want one for myself!" she tells me. I don't like to say she seems a little old, bearing in mind my gift is clearly
labelled as intended for someone of "0 Months." Hopefully it will be just as well received by its new owner.
So it's welcome to the world, Alfie Jack. What a lucky lad you are! A proud Dad, a beautiful Mum, a Big Sister who can't wait to introduce
you to Life As She Knows It. Plus a Nanna who will love to read you stories about your namesake, Alfie, the ordinary boy to whom exciting and interesting things happen.
Hello, Little One. From one AJ to another. With love.