Happy Not Dead Yet Day

When does Happy Birthday become Happy Not Dead Yet Day?  Is there a cut-off age for birthdays, or should men become like women and become just 21 again?  Are birthdays just for children?    Why am I talking about this anyway?  Today is the anniversary of my birth.  I was born on this day in 1972, 51 years ago.  When this article will be published my birthday will have passed so don’t try finding my date of birth.  Some people love their birthdays and enjoy them and just go for it.  I, surprise, surprise, am not one of those dreadful people.  Noooo, I am just in a foul mood, and despite receiving happy birthday wishes with good grace, I remain, under my breath, just an angry old man.  What is wrong with me?!

It could be because my birthday isn’t even being celebrated on the day itself.  Well, it is but it isn’t.  I expressed the wish for a beer and pizza night.  So, of course, I’m the one who has to go out and get the effing pizzas and get the beer.  I’m not even allowed to choose the effing film, because I am a sucker for a Rom-Com, and my family members aren’t so we won’t be watching one.  My daughter chose a birthday cake, a chocolate cake, which I am rather partial to, but it has that sickly sweet icing on it and is a unicorn rainbow cake.  She’s basically taking the piss out of me.  This isn’t me being paranoid since she actually admitted everything!  I’m even more pissed off with myself as I should be grateful instead of being selfish.  Damn you conscience!!!

I don’t like being the centre of attention and feel very uneasy about it.  If any bugger sings happy birthday to me, I just want the ground to swallow me up.

There were actually people last year for my fiftieth who actually came around for a party!  The utter gall of it!  Apparently “they,” say you have to be made a fuss of and receive presents.  It was awful.  You have to sit there pretending to have a good time.  The thing was a disaster and I still have a wine stain on my favourite shirt!

I told my son last night how I generally love my fellow man, and he promptly replied with the word bollocks!   You hate people!  I don’t necessarily hate them, and I do like them, far away, and on my own terms, i.e. not in my house wishing me a happy birthday!

How can I be like this??  I have no idea.  I remember my childhood birthdays with great affection, and I can’t blame booze for giving me just partial recollections.  My mother always went the extra mile, and I remember various styled chocolate cakes with great affection.  Even when I was at boarding school birthdays were fun.  I would get some cards, and Thornton toffees from my grandmother, and Matron would come round asking me if I wanted a chocolate cake or fruit cake?  I generally asked if I could have a chocolate cake, and at the end of supper, the cake would be brought out of the kitchen and divided up amongst the whole school which was a great way to do things. 

Even when I came back into the state school system, you would get the bumps which never really hurt, and one would have to pretend to struggle and just take it, but it was a laugh.  Now it would be classed as bullying and possibly assault!  How times have changed!

So, thank you to all who have wished me a happy birthday. Thank you for not picking me up by my hands and feet and not kicking me!  Thank you for taking a moment to have a thought for me on my special day.  I really do love you all!

À la recherche du temps perdu…

At the moment I seem to be suffering from nostalgia. A longing for things past that I wish were present. Not in the sense of the good old days in the way certain of my countrymen seem to feel Brexit will bring. It is of course impossible to bring back the past. And in some respects I’m very happy about that. Those of us who have been through puberty will be quite thankful not to have to repeat the experience.

I’m talking about the nostalgia where the mind wanders. Where the mind meanders through the memories that are stored there. Some, quite rightly too, are suppressed, and not to be delivered on a plate to some head shrinker. Others rock us like babies in our cribs. Days where things seemed to be different and before we made those decisions, wise or not, that made who we are today. And those decisions that were made for us by others, and that we wished had been made differently.

My mind is in the past. That past can be yesterday where I was very grateful to have the warm air from the car heater hitting my face, or it could be my very origins, where a 16 year old girl was forced by her elder brothers and sisters to abandon her child and give him up for adoption.

Smells can trigger these memories that seem to jump back at us and surprise us. The smell of ink for fountain pens, bees wax, and incense, that take me back to boarding school. Or the smell of lasagna that takes me right back to sitting in front of the TV when I was a teenager, avoiding tensions with my parents. The smell of bitter beer that accompanied those first visits to pubs. The woff of cigarette smoke that reminds me why I gave up smoking. The smell of ground coffee and hot pains au chocolats which signalled breakfast on a Sunday. The smell of military clothing. I’m sure mud has a smell. The smell of cordite and gun oil when out on the ranges. The smell of nappies from when I would change my son. The smell of good pooh and bad pooh. Yes, it does exist. The smell of wood when I worked on machines making door frames, to the smell of metal. Yes, metal does have a smell. I work in a store in the factory where I stock hinges, screws, etc

Taste can work in the same way. If you’ve read any of the other articles, you will have heard about my weakness for cheesecake. But I was just trying to recapture a dessert that my mum used to make and would sometimes disappear from the freezer. If anyone says anything I will deny everything and blame it on my imaginary friend…

But I think the moment that brought it on this time was when my old German teacher, known to everyone as Slick Rick, and even to this day remains particularly slick, sent me a section of an old school photo that I appear on. I was 16. About to sit my GCSE’s. And thought that I could still do what my mum wanted me to. I didn’t of course know what she wanted. To be honest, neither did I. I had an idea, but it wasn’t set in stone yet.

A right motley crew, and it seems so long ago…

At 16 I would never have imagined the life that I have now. I now live in France but at the time saw myself living in Germany. My German was better than French thanks to this brilliant teacher who managed to install a rare passion for the language. At the age of 18 my German was practically fluent and I felt so much at ease. But time has a strange way of sending you down another path. Some call it destiny, some karma, some a vocation. I have no idea. But here I am in 2019 transported back to 1988.

Yup, nostalgia gets me everytime and I wonder where that lost time went.