The Eldest of the Darling Daughters admits to feeling a trifle tired. I manage - but only just - to stop myself suggesting that this may be due to the fact that today she has reached A Great Age.
Except that fifty isn't so very old these days, now is it? You could say that 50 is the new 30. Whatever that means. It is, however, well worth having a Signature Birthday, especially if you can make it last for several weeks. The
Eldest of the Darling Daughters, like me, believes in Spinning Out Celebrations for as long as possible.
Mr B and I phone to wish her a Happy Birthday. This involves holding the receiver between us and singing
that most traditional of birthday greetings down the phone. Mr B is tuneful while I put lots of expression into my singing. The Redoubtable Muriel would have been proud of me. My Little Sister and her fella, Baz, have their own, inimitable, way of singing
Happy Birthday - Les Dawson style. As in, all the right notes, but in all the wrong order. Or, quite possibly, all the wrong notes in all the right order.
I need to hear all about her birthday weekend which
has included a visit to Windsor Castle, a day at the Ascot races, watching a performance of "Annie" at the Windsor Theatre Royal, all punctuated by gastronomic interludes. At Windsor Castle, my daughter tells me, there was an exhibition of some of the Queen's
clothes - not the Seriously Grand Ones like her wedding dress and Coronation gown which have been on display at Buck House, but one which particularly caught the attention of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters. This was the Queen's Girl Guide uniform, brown
with age but quite clearly wearing the badges to prove that Her Maj - like both the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and Yours Truly - was once Patrol Leader of the Swallow Patrol. You didn't know, did you, that we have Royal Connections?
Over the coming week, the Birthday Girl has several lunch dates planned with various friends keen to help her celebrate. Then on Saturday all three Darling Daughters and I are meeting up for yet another celebration, including
a visit to something called The Ice Bar.
Norma, who sits next to me in church, second row from the back (we know our place) tells me that her daughter took her to the Ice Bar to celebrate her 70th birthday.
As in Norma's 70th birthday, not her daughter's. Norma isn't ok'd enough to have a 70 year old daughter and would probably be offended to think anyone might think otherwise. Or maybe not, Norma being one of life's Sweet Souls. I am going to love the Ice Bar,
Norma enthuses, but I must remember to take my gloves as I will be drinking from a glass made of ice.
I relay this important piece of my information to my daughter who says she thinks gloves will be provided
along with a woolly cape to protect us from the cold. I decide I will take my gloves anyway on the basis of being Better Safe Than Sorry. You would have thought the Eldest of the Darling Daughters, now that she has turned 50, would have embraced her Inner
Cautiousness. But then again, the news bulletins are full of people who hurl themselves off cliffs with only a bungee rope between them and disaster or go wing-walking at the age of ninety.
I always say that
birthdays are for mothers, too. I remember the day my Anne was born so very well. A home birth, in the bedroom of our ground floor flat - we didn't have a telephone so Mr B had to leave my side to hare next door to hammer on our next door neighbours' door
at midnight and beg the use of their telephone. I remember the ten minutes or so that he was gone as being among the longest and most frightening of my life.
Four hours later she was born - so beautiful, so tiny,
so absolutely perfect in every way. How many memories of that day to treasure, the funny, the fearful, the unforgettable.
Happy 50th birthday to my darling Anne. My own Mary Poppins - Practically Perfect In