Another year, another birthday … and this one is notable mainly for its lack of festivity and my lack of progress with respect to the previous one. Hey ho.
This time last year, the little guy and I were in Spain. I spent my birthday alone with him and, despite his excellent company, I think it was one of the saddest birthdays of my life.
In previous years, I’d celebrated with a big party and one or more gatherings with friends over morning coffee, afternoon tea, a huge pile of pizza or all three. The contrast between this social saturation and the solitary glass of vino I “enjoyed” while the piglet snoozled in the pram was almost too much to bear.
To be fair to the little guy, he was only seven months old so the concept of ‘birthday’ didn’t really exist for him, otherwise I’m sure he’d have cracked open the party poppers. But as it was, I sniffled into my wine glass then went home to bed.
Fast forward a year and here we are: there’s still no one to shower me with affection or surprise me with cake and that special gift chosen just for me. Yes, I know I’m a fully-grown adult and I do try to pretend it doesn’t matter, but the big kid in me still thinks that birthdays should be special days and that’s that. I just can’t help it.
Anyway, this year I was up for a soothing wander round the arboretum and a slice of cake in the tearoom … but instead a motley group of grandparents and great-grandparents took the little guy to the farm park to throw himself round the soft play area and visit the animals.
We toured the barns and saw fluffy little chicks (“Scary”); huge fat porkers (“Outside now!”); big, greasy sheep (“Baa, baa!”) and a selection of rabbits and guinea pigs (“—”), but the greatest joy was reserved for a bank of brightly-coloured, plastic ride-on tractors, strikingly similar to the push-along cars he plays with at nursery.
The birthday element of the day was saved by evening cocktails in the company of one of my oldest mates. (By which I cast no aspersions about her age; I just mean I’ve known her for yonks. She’s fussy about these things so I have to specify.)
It was nice to leave the house after dark – something that rarely happens these days – and even nicer to sit in the ambience of groovy bar, listening to hipster beats and sipping a Dark and Stormy. I even got chatted up by a man in a tank top.
After pretending to hold a microphone in front of my face (OoooooK?!), his opening gambit was, “I like your top.”
Honestly! That’s what he said.
“Ummm. Yeah,” I replied. “Like yours too.”
My lack of enthusiasm didn’t seem to inspire great conversation, but neither did it deter him.
“Are you from round here?”
Now, I thought my, “NO!” was sufficiently vehement to deter further discussion, but he gamely asked me another question or two before I managed to make my excuses and wend my way back to my mate, cocktails for two clutched tightly in my paws … and, despite the unwanted intrusion, my mate and I had a good old gossip and ended the night by sharing a portion of chips.
And it might not be the same as having handpicked gifts from that special someone, but sometimes gossip and greasy carbs can really warm the cockles of your heart.