“What’s going on over there, then?” asks the Birthday Boy, curiously. I look over towards the door leading from the kitchen into the restaurant where three waitresses are gathered. “It’s the
lemon possets,” I say. Memorably. I haven’t noticed that the third of the waitresses is carrying a tall glass containing a delicious-looking chocolate dessert, topped by a Flaming Candle.
Fortunately I catch on (I’m quick like that) when my sister and all three waitresses start singing “Happy Birthday To You” , while the Birthday Boy turns the colour of beetroot. It’s a memorable moment
in a truly lovely day.
I am here at the Chichester Festival Theatre with my sister Maggie and her fella, Baz, to help him to celebrate his birthday. Regular readers
may be feeling a trifle mixed-up because wasn’t I writing, just the other day, about my sister’s birthday? Yes, indeed, but these two celebrate their birthdays within days of each other. They clearly live by my mantra which is, why have one birthday,
when you could have two?
Tomorrow you will be even more discombobulated because I will be writing about yet another birthday, as the Middle of the Darling Daughters
will be celebrating her 50th birthday, for which I have planned a few surprises. Which is only as you would expect from Yours Truly.
In fact, there is a
historical link between the two birthdays in family terms. It was today, fifty years ago, that Baz turned up on the doorstep of our flat in Uxbridge where he was due to meet up with his then girlfriend, my sister. He recognised me immediately even though he
had never seen me before and I was heavily pregnant because he thought I looked just like my sister. Apparently he has never again, from that day to this, seen the resemblance.
He was welcomed into our Humble Home and immediately introduced, by Mr B, to the Scalextric layout which had been carefully set up in our bedroom, weaving around our double bed. Mr B had decided not to wait for the birth of Child Two before investing
in his Toy of Choice. One day, he assumed, our children would grow into All Things Scalextric - and in the meantime there was no reason why he shouldn’t put in some practice on the race track.
The two fellas bonded so completely over the racing cars that it was a considerable while before my sister realised that her boyfriend had turned up and that it was a little late for her to introduce us properly because we
were already well acquainted.
We always joke that it was the shock of meeting Baz that persuaded our Second Born to make her entrance to the world. She was,
however, three weeks overdue so it probably didn’t take too much friendly persuasion…
I didn’t actually register that today was the 50th anniversary
of my Meeting Baz. I was too excited by my delicious meal ( chicken supreme and blueberry cheesecake should you need to know. No, not on the same plate, don’t be silly, that would be a step too far even for one such as I who is Always Thinking About
Her Stomach) and too enthralled watching Duet for One on stage. It’s a play that’s funny and poignant by turns and thought-provoking throughout.
the interview my sister and I visit the facilities and discuss how on earth the events happening on stage in the doctor’s consulting room can possibly be brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the end of the play; Baz, meanwhile, is checking the score
of the Spurs versus Arsenal match with a couple sitting in the row in front of us. Were Mr B with us, he would be doing the same.
The end of the Spurs match is
not what our menfolk were wishing for - but the ending of the play is strangely satisfactory in that it offers, not a happy ending as such, but hope.
that word - hope. It sums up so much in just four letters, don’t you think? I hope you have had the happiest of birthdays, dear Baz. I am so very pleased I could share it with you - all these fifty years on since The Day We Met.