My second eldest granddaughter, Hazel Bagel, celebrated her eighteenth birthday today - with a ballet exam.
It is the third
birthday in a row where she has been called to the barre. This is fast becoming a family tradition, I tell her when I text her with the usual Happy Birthday greetings.
Have you noticed, incidentally, how much more complicated it is to send birthday greetings these days? In the Olden Days a carefully chosen card with appropriate wording would suffice. These days, in addition to the card, you are required to text a
personal message, following this up by announcing to the world on Facebook (if possible with a sweet, or funny, or downright crazy photograph ) that you have remembered the Birthday Person. Obviously, being - as regular readers know - a boringly compliant
type, I do what needs to be done, trying to think up slightly different ways to pass on the same message.
Our present to our granddaughter on her Coming of Age
was a personalised print incorporating all manner of words, phrases and sayings which sum up, for Mr B and me, our relationship with our lovely girl. It took some doing, getting everything we wanted to say down to just fifty words but we managed it. I do wonder
what the person whose job it was to take our words and form them into a print, thought about our choice. He or she must surely have pondered on the inclusion of chicken nuggets, bagel, and sparkling mineral water. Yet there, in words, is the Story of
“Holiday songs” refers to the verses we penned at the end of each wonderful summer holiday week in Worthing when Hazel and brother Jack were
knee high to a grasshopper. Oh the nights I lay awake, desperately composing rhymes in my head, ever conscious of the approaching deadline, aka the last day of the holiday, when the song would have to be performance ready. Somehow I always managed it, though
just how I really don't know.
“Make mine chicken nuggets” is a line from just one of those holiday songs, when Hazel was about three years old. “We
said we'd eat so healthily / No picking up bad habits / But Hazel said each time we asked / Just make mine chicken nuggets!” Always sung with great gusto and conviction by the lass in question.
“Sparkling mineral water”? Ah, yes, an early evening meal at Shafiques, our favourite Indian restaurant where Hazel, then around eight years old was asked her choice of drink and, fluttering her long eye-lashes
at the handsome young waiter, asked in her poshest voice: “ Could I have a sparkling mineral water, please?” Her mother and I were convulsed with laughter - we weren't sure she had ever tasted mineral water, sparkling or otherwise.
Then there was the day she played Dorothy in the Hook Junior School’s production of The Wizard of Oz - commemorated in just two words: Ruby Slippers. This is also a passing
reference to the fact that I wore my red shoes to the performance I attended, a gesture of solidarity which wasn’t totally appreciated, being filed in my granddaughter’s virtual memory box as one of many “Embarrassing Moments Involving Nanna.”
Fast forward to another performance not so very long ago - Hazel as the Narrator in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, appearing at the curtain call in a stunning dress
of gold. So fitting for my Golden Girl.
There's reference to the Annual pantomimes where Mr B aka Grandad was famous for always securing the best seats in
the house, and to the Christmas tree decorations we have lovingly chosen for our grandchildren each year. When you celebrate your first Christmas in the first home of your own, I tell them, you will have a supply of decorations for your tree! It has only recently
occurred to me that their adult tastes in interior decoration might mean our baubles stay boxed up in their lofts each festive season.
In compiling my list of
fifty words I nearly forgot “Enchanted Forest”, commemorating the bedtime stories I conjured up for many years, tales of a little girl called Hazel who lived (how did you guess?) in a cottage in an Enchanted Forest where the trees had magical properties,
Guy Fawkes came alive for one day only and the Mad March Hare’s vehicle of choice was a unicycle.
It goes without saying that most of the words will only
have meaning for Hazel and her nearest and dearest - but everyone who knows her will surely recognise “Songbird” and “Water Baby”. Likewise “Love” and “Laughter” - two words my Hazel Bagel lives by.
I like to think our present is “The Story of Hazel Bagel in Fifty Words”, from the loving perspective of two grandparents who have proudly watched her grow
from babyhood to adulthood. She has changed so much over the years - yet in some very important ways has stayed just the same.
Ever - and always - my Golden Girl.