Saturday was a Day of Two Birthdays. One of the Birthday Boys was celebrating his 80th birthday, the other his 9th. No difference between them, then - because both are very, very special to me.
My Boy, father of the Middle of the (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys, messaged me to say that, down there in Deepest Wales (well, okay, in Cardiff) Young James was about to open his presents. If I cared
to FaceTime them, they would sit Mr B and me at one end of the dining room table (virtually speaking) so that we could witness the fun. I'm just out of the shower, I messaged back, can you give me ten minutes?
Answer came there none - except that a few minutes later, FaceTime was calling me. The Great Present Opening Ceremony simply couldn't wait for me to dry my hair. I could see myself on the corner of the screen, all wet and
bedraggled. Fortunately I long gave up the Sin of Vanity as a bad job so I soon forget about my alarming appearance, being carried away by the thrill of being part of the celebration.
The Welsh Contingent have an exciting birthday weekend ahead of them, what with swimming and white water rafting. “Sadly,” confides Young Morgan, aka The Duracell Bunny, “I'm not allowed to do that…”
I express my regret, despite the fact that you couldn't get me anywhere near white water, raft or not, if you paid me.
My thoughts return throughout
the day to the fun my young Birthday Lad and his friends will be enjoying - though I do have other Birthday Related Activity to keep me occupied. Some time after 1 p.m. my brother Tony, his wife, daughter and son-in-law will be arriving, as will my Little
Sister, Maggie, and her fella, Baz. It was Tony’s 80th birthday on Thursday and my sister and I are determined to help him celebrate in style.
been concocting our plans as if for a military operation. We kept messaging and telephoning each other to share progress. My responsibilities (aside from hosting the occasion) included the crafting of the traditional birthday banner - Tony is 80, it reads,
what else? - the cooking of the beef stew with herby dumplings (I forgot to add the herbs so we had to make do with herbless dumplings. Nobody seemed to mind / notice / care two hoots), the sourcing of an appropriate gift and a bottle of champagne. My sister
had the rather more glamorous jobs - the making of her legendary pavlova for our dessert; the baking of a magnificent birthday cake; and providing the birthday balloon and a packet of table tinsel. She apologised, in advance, for the fact that I will be sweeping
up sparkly “80” tinsel for weeks, if not months to come. I am not bothered, I tell her, it will remind me of this special occasion.
splendidly; the Birthday Boy seems thrilled with each surprise, even the chocolate champagne bottle with the slightly melted top. Yes, we did have the real thing too. We talk about Times Gone By when we were littl’uns and I tell my brother how it wasn't
until I grew up that I realised how very seriously he took his role as the Eldest Child. He nods, solemnly. Not for nothing, I congratulate myself, the inscription under the “New Arrivals” section of the framed 1937 poster we have given him: “Tony
Usher - the best of big brothers.”
My niece’s husband, Mark, proves himself ace at transferring Mr B from armchair to wheelchair and vice-versa. Could
I possibly keep him? I ask my lovely niece who explains, regretfully, that she still has need of him. Ah, well, you can't blame me for trying…
open the fizz. We turn down the lights and my sister carries in her fabulous cake, decorated with candles and chocolate buttons iced with our brother’s name. His real name is Leonard but hardly anyone ever calls him that. Everyone chuckles at my story
of being sent on an errand from the Infant School to the Junior School: “I didn't know you were Leonard’s sister,” the teacher said. To which I replied, gormlessly: “Neither did I!”
After our guests have departed, my sister and her fella insist on helping to clear up. They are determined not to leave me with any mess. Well, apart from the sparkly tinsel, that is.
We FaceTime the other Birthday Boy so that Maggie and Baz can sing Happy Birthday to him in their own, special, deliberately tuneless manner. I think he is, well, impressed. Sort of.
At the end of a truly splendid day, I feel confident in saying that a great time was had by all.
After all, why celebrate one birthday, when you could celebrate two?