Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

This is the first birthday ever that I am spending by myself. 

It’s weird, but just a fact of age, I suppose – and having no money to be able to throw a party.
So, I had a long lie-in and was feeling quite content until I woke to my reflection and the longest hair growing out of my chin I have ever found.
I began to wish I had bought the NoNo online - the (allegedly) miracle device that removes facial hair with “virtually no pain”. It’s that word “virtually” that worries me, in addition to the potential damage I could cause if I decided to use the NoNo after a couple of drinks. I have visions of waking up on the sofa with a Mohican and one eyebrow, not to mention a sliced ear. So, I just took the tweezers to it.
In the shower, I thought that my body wasn’t too bad for 54. True, I have not “returned to me original weight”, which is what women always boast about when they shed a couple of stone (that would be silly – my original weight was 7 lbs). My age showed more clearly when I dried my hair, as there appears to be a great deal less of it with each passing year. I felt like Paul Daniels as I tried to manoeuvre strands across the patches of white scalp and wondering why nature could not make what was happening on my chin happen on my head.
As a child, I used to have parties but, being born on November 5th, all the kids brought fireworks to let off. Then, as now, I hate fireworks and used to spend the outdoors part of the evening hiding indoors, terrified behind the sofa, while my guests waved their sparklers in the garden.
They, on the other hand, were probably glad to escape my clutches. When they arrived at the party, I would organise them in order of height and arrange their presents on a chair with similar precision, so they were doubtless only too happy to be de-mobbed to the garden. To be honest, I was always glad to be rid of them at the end of the night, and thrust their parting gift of a “goody bag” into their hands as speedily as I might an unpinned grenade.
I’ve also been thinking back to my significant birthdays. In the photographs of my 18th, I am in a gorgeous turquoise two piece (oh, why did I throw it away?) and boasting a hairdo that looks as if it has eaten my body weight twice over. I look at least 55. 

On my 21st, I am in brown crimplene. 

I spent my 30th in Camden Town, in Chalk and Cheese, a restaurant then owned by my friend Liz, to whom I remain close to this day. 

My 40th - possibly the happiest day of my life – was in Soho House in London. 

I had three 50th birthday parties and, at the main dinner in London, felt blessed that the friends there were the ones who had been prominent in my life for over 25 years. At the party I organised in my Paris apartment, the last guest was taken away unconscious by the pompiers. They were not happy and shouted at me in French that this was not their job. Ha! I wanted to respond. You want to be in Cardiff on a Saturday night, when this would be your only job. Luckily, my French was not sufficiently up to scratch to be able to convey this.
I am not feeling sad at spending a birthday alone; it’s only one day. We all live busy lives; friends have partners, children, jobs. Last week, I was in London, enjoying a wonderful dinner with very close friends; does it matter that it was not on one particular date as opposed to any other? Not a jot.
Tomorrow, I hope to see my mother, who lives an hour away. Does our love diminish because we have not seen each other on THE day? Again, no.
It is the poignancy with which we recognise the nature of time passing that changes how we view birthdays. For me, today, it does not have to be different from any other, but a day to reflect on how lucky I am to love and be loved by so many wonderful friends and my ever-supportive family.
Facebook, too, has overwhelmed me with friends, acquaintances and complete strangers sending their good wishes. For all its faults, social networking is a phenomenal medium for reaching out to people and letting them know they are in your thoughts.
Every day of my life, my family, friends, and even these people I have never met, give me a goody bag, and I am 24/7 grateful for it. 

My birthday is happy because every one of them is in my life.  

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