I think it is safe to say that when it comes to social distancing and the principles of shielding, Mr B doesn’t have a clue.
That’s despite following all the news bulletins since the start of Lockdown and being an exceptionally faithful follower of the Downing Street press briefings when they were a daily occurrence. I could always count on him for a pithy comment about
the utterings of the various ministers chosen to trot out the latest government message. The trouble is, he has chosen to believe, like a goodly few of the population it seems, that none of it applies to him...
Hence when our granddaughter Hazel Bagel appeared at the patio doors yesterday, holding out her arms in what I gather is called an “air hug”, her Grandad was most put out, demanding that she should come indoors
and treat him to a proper hug. Her explanation as to why this was not possible, fell on stony ground: “ Well, I won’t tell anyone!” he protested. “Oh, my heart, my heart!” Hazel mourned.
Our granddaughter had arrived with her mother, brother and boyfriend in tow so that we could join in the extended celebrations for her 21st birthday. Even though it is now the 18th birthday which signals adulthood, there is
still something about the 21st. “She’s got the key of the door / never been twenty-one before!” I carolled - to everyone’s barely-disguised amusement. Hazel’s mother, Youngest of the Darling Daughters, made me sing it all over
again so that she could capture the happy moment on video. Why I agreed to this, I can’t imagine; I fear that the clip will be played and re-played on many an occasion for maximum embarrassment.
Apart from Mr B’s disappointment at the lack of a warm embrace from the Birthday Girl, there were a few small things which didn’t go to plan. I was still trying unsuccessfully to pin up a Happy Birthday banner
over the front door after the wind had blown it down three times, when our visitors arrived. My daughter took a photo of me standing on the front path, arms outspread, holding out the banner and grinning like a merry maniac, after which we took it out into
the back garden and spread it across the table. My daughter had brought along the official banner, proclaiming “Hazel is 21” which we strung up across the awning where it stayed in all its festive glory for the remainder of the afternoon.
There was no such easy remedy for my second small “fail” which concerned the number sparklers I had bought to replace candles on the birthday cake I had baked.
My reasoning was sound in that, where outdoor ceremonies are concerned, the candles are always blown out by the wind even before the assembled crowd reaches the second line of Happy Birthday. How much better sparklers would be to withstand the breeze, I reckoned.
Unfortunately I chose to light the number 1 sparkler before the number 2 sparkler - which meant that 1 had fizzled out before 2 began to sparkle. I confessed my error to Hazel’s brother, Jack, who agreed (though kindly) and said he had been thinking
the same thing....
I don’t know why I am stressing on such minor matters when the whole afternoon was simply splendid in every way. Fish and chips for lunch
- reminding me of another similar celebration before our Golden Wedding party when once again we sat round in the garden sharing that quintessentially British food. Our birthday presents for Hazel included the Grandparents Journal which has been one of my
many Lockdown Projects, a blend of old photographs, family history, and stories of my childhood and that of Mr B. It has been a true labour of love but well worth the time spent on it, I reckon. I have a whole year now until the next of the Tremendous Ten
turns twenty-one and I’m going to need every minute if I am to keep up the tradition. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself - then yesterday I looked at Hazel’s face as she pored over the photos of the great-grandparents she never knew and
had my answer.
We seized the opportunity for my first trip to the local beach since Lockdown began, a sunny walk to the Bluebird Café where we devoured
ice-creams at a suitably social distance. Meanwhile Jack, bless him, kept his Grandad company watching the Formula One qualifying laps for the Styrian Grand Prix.
toasted our Birthday Girl in Prosecco and invited the rest of the family to join in wishing her well via the weekly Family Zoom. I nearly locked everyone out by failing to change back the password to let them in - but I just about got away with it.
This afternoon, my granddaughter’s birthday celebrations continue as friends gather in her back garden. I hope they have a fabulous time. After all, why have one 21st
birthday celebration when you could have, well, several....