“What’s the good of a birthday,” my dear Dad used to say, “if you can’t do what you like...?”
Hence yesterday, which was my birthday, I suggested to Mr B that I would like to watch “Mary Poppins Returns” to mark the occasion. Mr B wasn’t all that keen (there was cricket on TV) but conceded that, as it was my Big Day, I was
entitled to watch what I wanted.
It was clear that Miss Practically Perfect In Every Way wouldn’t have been Mr B’s choice. I added the DVD to my shopping
basket while picking up a few essential at the garage way back around Easter time, carrying it home and declaring, happily, that I had bought us an Easter present. Mr B’s response was classic: “What other films could you have bought?” he
asked, just a trifle grumpily. Since then, Miss Poppins has sat, sad and discarded, atop the DVD player while I waited for this very moment.
Mr B does occasionally
take against a film for no apparent reason. He reserves particular opprobrium for the children’s film called “Stuart Little” - a favourite of granddaughter Eleanor over many childhood holidays with us - even though Eleanor and I are doubtful
that he has ever watched it all the way through. Stuart Little, for those who don’t know, is a delightfully kind and gentle mouse who is adopted by a couple who fall in love with him when they visit an orphanage to find a brother or sister or their small
son. I am quite sure that Mr B would enjoy the story of Stuart Little if he could only bring himself to watch it from beginning to end, it being all about the importance of family and unconditional love - the basis for our life together over all these ever
so many years.
Still, I digress. Mary Poppins returned to our television screen in honour of my birthday and I settled down to enjoy my treat. I had already had
a quite splendid birthday. Cards, phone calls and birthday greetings a-plenty, made me feel much-loved. Even Lloyd the Postman carolled “Happy Birthday!” as he walked down our garden path. How did he know? I thought - until he handed over all the
cards he was carrying. At precisely noon, driver Tony arrived in the Dial-a-Ride minibus to transport Mr B and me to one of our favourite local restaurants called Food. You know me, I do like a restaurant that does what it says in the tin. What better way
to celebrate a birthday for One Who Is Always Thinking of her Stomach than enjoy a birthday lunch with good friends?
The other two members of our Meals and
Wheels Club, friends Ian and Sallie, arrived at the restaurant at almost exactly the same time as we did. Sallie was bearing an extremely large, pink box containing a Birthday Balloon - let’s start the celebrations as we mean to go on, she hardly had
to say. Then, as we enjoyed cups of coffee at the end of a delicious meal, a member of staff carried a cake over to our table, candles alight, and what felt like everyone in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to me. It took me by complete surprise, as captured
by the photos of the moment when I twigged what was happening - and that it was All For Me.
Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns? If not, I won’t spoil it
for you but one of the things I noted (and remember well from reading the books aloud to my Little Sister when we were young) is the idea that while children remember all the magical events that happen around them, grown-ups have forgotten them by the following
day. I seem to recall in PL Travers original books, that babies had a particular capacity to understand where they had come from and what was going on around them - a gift they slowly lost as they approached their first birthday.
On the one hand, I like to think that childhood is a time of magic, with or without a Mary Poppins in your life. On the other, having reached an even Greater Age yesterday, I really
don’t want to lose the Power of the Magical.
Not even when I’m really, really old...