“What’s the good of a birthday,” my dear Dad used to say, “If you can’t do what you like?”
Which is all very well if, like
me, you are prepared to embrace the whole spirit of birthdays with open arms and a happy heart. If, that is, you love everything about them – the celebratory balloons with their colourful streamers, the cards from friends and family. The cake! The party!
The day out!
Then you have the likes of Mr B, who is the original Man Who Does Not Believe in Birthdays. He explains that when he was a littl’un, nobody ever gave him a birthday present on the
grounds that he would have just received a combined Christmas-and-Birthday present and this should be good enough for anyone. Poor little lad.
But please don’t feel too sorry for him. Rest assured
that, ever since I met him (which will be 50 years ago later this year) I have forced him to enjoy his birthday. Every year. And yesterday was no exception.
We had taken advantage of a great
deal and booked in for “One Night Only” at the rather splendid Shelleys Hotel in nearby Lewes. Lewes is one of those towns we have driven past / through / over so many times without ever paying it a visit. How remiss of us! We drove there in not
much more than half an hour. Mr B drove (he likes to drive and it was his birthday so I was happy to oblige) but as the Official Birthday Organiser, I told him where to go. In the nicest possible way. Being so near, it was economical on the petrol and not
at all taxing for either driver or passenger. We arrived as fresh as the proverbial daisies and at least one of us was ready for anything.
Oh, Larking About in Lewes is just about the loveliest way
to spend Someone Else’s Birthday. Why, you casually walk along the High Street, just like it was any other town, and there to the left is a castle! Yes, a real live, beautiful, ruined castle, just standing there saying: “Visit Me!”
So we did – and stood on the very top of the tower gazing out over the glorious countryside. Spell-bindingly beautiful, even with a January mist swirling in the distance.
I would have liked
to have taken advantage of the dressing-up chests which were available in the exhibition rooms within the Barbican Tower and transformed myself into a knight or a baron or a villein. In order, you understand, to gain a better understanding of the English Feudal
System in Medieval times. Or to have enjoyed a game of quoits using the equipment thoughtfully provided in the garden room. But I could see, from Mr B’s face, that these would have been Several Steps Too Far. Next time I come, I will bring children.
Mr B says they would enjoy the seaside better and I’m sure they would – but what’s wrong with them seeing a bit of history too? Especially if I get to wear the chain-mail armour...
one of the upper rooms in the Museum, four nimble-fingered needlewomen were working away on an amazing Embroidery Project. By the end of this year, their quirky and colourful tapestry depicting the history of Lovely Lewes will be on show for all to see. We
must come back...
Back to the hotel and our beautiful room overlooking the charming gardens. Our room was equipped with everything you could possible need - plus an Everyman book of Shelley’s
poems. Good old Percy Bysshe was apparently related to the Shelleys who owned this beautiful house, once upon a time – hence the literary connection. I treated Mr B to a stirring rendition of “Ozymandias”, one of my all-time favourite
poems. He humoured me, bless him. He could see I was really enjoying his Birthday.
I almost went too far. I’d smuggled a cake and candles into the hotel and entrusted them to the management.
The cake was carried in, at the end of our evening meal, candles blazing by the sweet Spanish Senorita who had served our evening meal and now joined me in singing “Happy Birthday” with great gusto. Fortunately this was not as embarrassing
as it might have been as everyone else had left the restaurant (I always make Mr B linger over his Birthday Meal – you have to make the most of it, you know, it only happens once a year.) The Spanish Senorita planted a kiss on his cheek. It made
I’m glad I can still surprise him after all these years. And did he enjoy his birthday? I hear you ask. Of course, he did.
told him he had to...