The last of the quiet birthdays

Thursday August 12, 2004

I have a feeling that this might be the last year when I shall be able to get away with celebrating my birthday quietly and with as little fuss as possible. There are moves afoot which, over the next twelve months, may lead to a considerable change in our social life. Which is, admittedly, a little too constrained for comfort right now.

It was a funny old birthday. For my main present, despite my protestations that a new digital camera was all the birthday present any reasonable man could want, I received a new DAB digital radio. Which didn’t work. I was delighted with the gift and opened it with all the excitement that ought to attend a wished for but unexpected gift. Plugged it in, turned it on, and waited for it to run through the tuning sequence. Then it gave a loud and distressing squawk and subsided into a sullen silence.

“Oh, bugger,” said Graham, with feeling.

“Not to worry,” I said. “These things happen. We’ll have to go and exchange it.”

“But that means…”

“Yup. We have to go to Lincoln.”

“Oh. Do we have to?”



“Yes. If we don’t do it today you’ll mope and meep about all day, feeling bad about it.”

“You know me so well.”

And off we went, heading for Lincoln for the second day running. I’d sort of planned a birthday lunch either at the RAF Heritage Museum, just up the road, where I fancied a traditional NAAFI ‘oggie’ and mug of tea, or, alternatively, at the chippie in Skegness. That’s no problem—I can claim droit de birfday on both outings at some future date. [‘oggie’ is RAF slang for a Cornish Pasty.]

The sun shone, it was cooler and much more bearable, and Lincoln was not itchy and scratchy today.

The store that had sold Graham the digital radio was perfectly happy to give him a refund—they didn’t have a replacement—and we very soon found a perfectly acceptable alternative in another store close by. Actually, and don’t tell anyone this, I prefer the alternative, a model by Panasonic which is rather less flashy and tinny-feeling than the Sharp that squawked.

So my birthday present was sorted, and I claimed a MacDonald lunch as my birthday treat. And then, of course, a double espresso in Starbucks to follow.

Graham had need of a new backpack and, strange to tell, my legs gave out on me just then. Convenient things, wonky legs. They have this habit of giving out on you just as some unwanted task comes along. More so, as the years advance.

So I sat in the sun while he went off shopping. I got my pencam out and snapped happily away. Got some fairly decent shots, too, particularly a small series of a young photo-journalist out photographing Lincoln citizens doing silly things with stick-on moustaches. Fair game, I thought, and took several shots of her at work. I even went so far as to pull the Fuji out of its case and bag a higher quality picture. I was gratified to find that no-one noticed me working with the larger camera but that might just have had something to do with the enormous lens the young woman was wielding with such panache.

And then, all requirements satisfied, we headed for home, a short nap, a pleasant evening and my choice of birthday dinner.

“You don’t seem to have had much of a birthday,” Graham said, all quiet and concerned.

“Don’t be silly. I’ve had a lovely day. And it’s liable to be rather different next year.”

“Well, so long as you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

And that’s the truth. Some people make a big fuss over their sixty-fifth birthday, marking the change over to official ‘old age pensioner’ status. I’ve thought about that over the past couple of weeks. The fact is I don’t know how to be sixty-five, so I’ve decided not to try. From this point forward, I shall celebrate my birthdays with joy and with gratitude but I’m not going to count the years any more. There doesn’t seem much meaning to the figures from here on out.


pencam photo



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