“They Fucking Forgot My Birthday” – Samantha Baker, Sixteen Candles.

So far, it’s thankfully not happened to me and people generally remember my birthday, especially in the age of Facebook reminders, calendar reminders and even human reminders. I have one friend in a whatsapp group who is the Queen of calendar reminders: our birthdays, spouse birthdays, anniversaries, kids birthdays, even ex-boyfriend birthdays. NGL, if a key date completely slips my mind, it helps to ride off the back of her well-wishes on the group chat.

When I was a paper diary kind of gal (still am in spirit tbh), I would spend far too long around this time of year buying a new diary for the commencing year. Whilst I do miss the ‘flick-flick-flick’ of a paper diary, I know that the ‘new me’ appreciates the many advantages that my digital diary has. (She says through gritted teeth.)

A lot of people LOVE their birthday. I have many friends like this – usually the ones with coveted summer birthday dates which allow for bbq action and other al fresco fun, tier 2 lockdown or otherwise.

A lot of people LOATH their birthday. (My husband runs the fan club and is always open to more members.)

I’m somewhere in the middle – I like my birthday. I share it with some amazing people that I have met along the way and there is something heartwarming about meeting someone new and discovering that you share the same birthday. I get the same fuzzy feeling when I notice food goes off on my actual birthday.

Happy fishes. x

I’m just pretty low maintenance when it comes to my birthday. I’m not someone who loves to be the centre of attention, but a few dozen social media posts are always nice.

The whole social media thing can get a bit overwhelming though. One friend, went awol on our group chat and hadn’t replied to any of our private birthday greetings. It basically took her 3 days to even notice OUR messages because she was so stressed out with all of the housekeeping of replying to all of her OTHER messages.

Last week, I binge watched ‘Emily in Paris’ along with the rest of the world and I was reminded how it literally feels like yesterday that this photo was taken. Except that it wasn’t. It was five years ago. FIVE!

Debbie in Paris. 20/10/15

I mean, who the hell did I think I was? Carrie Bradshaw?

Goals.

Yup – I really did.

When asked by husband ‘what would you like for your 40th’, I said that I wanted to wake up Paris, with my fam and see the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room balcony…

Not so much luck on the last point.

But! We made it to Paris.

And I so I woke up on my actual 40th birthday IN Paris and we went TO the Eiffel Tower. Definitely a birthday I will never forget.

Aiming for similar stats on the 142 ‘likes’.

Unlike some other birthdays.

By that, I don’t mean they have been ‘forgettable’, but I have very hazy recollections of them.

Working backwards, I can recall the ‘big’ birthdays:

Lockside Bar in Camden for my 30th.

Some bar in Hampstead for my 25th.

And Manchester for my 21st.

At the time I was a student and so a couple of us hustled together to split hire costs and secure the downstairs room in a big enough venue for a guest list of about 200. Students today can only dream of such extended guest lists.

La Tasca, Deansgate. Were you present?

I remember very little. But there was definitely a stripper. Whipped cream. And a banana. Nothing covid-friendly about the evening, that’s for sure.

So at 45, the only stripping will be me getting into bed early doors once we’re kicked out of the restaurant at 10:01.

Wishing all fellow Librans a happy healthy birthday. x

Happy Birthday To Ya…

For as long as I can remember, my dad would annually crank up the record player on my birthday for five minutes and thirty-three seconds of pure Stevie Wonder ‘Happy Birthday’ joy. The opening ‘dn-dka-dn-dka-dn-dka-dn-dnka-dn-dn’ synth sounds would contagiously creep their way upstairs and I would awaken to the ‘big drum fill’ preceding Stevie’s warbles.

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Now I’m grown up (sort of), my kids delight in this tradition and blare out the song for me (albeit on Sonos).

But do I love my birthday? It means I’m getting older. Horrific surely? Well, no. Along with Snoop Dogg, Francis Boulle, Danni Minogue and Danny Boyle, I’m a proud October baby, along with some of my closest Libran friends and I’m embracing my forties, always awaiting my yearly Colin the Caterpillar cake.

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If it’s good enough for him…

I have great memories of my birthday parties complete with ‘St Michaels’ marshmallow teacakes and orange squash in a corrugated plastic container, that you pierced with the accompanying straw.

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Did someone say artificial sweetener…?

Little parties turned into bigger parties, evenings in, discos and hiring out pubs. I am still great friends with many of the people I grew up with, including one who loves her June birthday so much, she celebrates annually with a monumental ‘tea party’ at her house. Almost like Glastonbury (albeit less muddy), the old faces would reunite and new faces would be added. Over thirty years later, it’s still an annual pilgrimage and the atmosphere is just as warm and wonderful.

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(AFP/Getty Images)

 

However, I married a man for whom his birthday is a no-go zone. Whilst the kids and I are conveniently booked on a flight to Spain, my other half sees out his birthday at work, with the minimum of fuss made, under the radar, no-one the wiser to this momentous day in August. He then conveniently joins us a day later in the sun.

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(Not my husband.)

Each year I call him at work on his birthday and ask “has the cookie basket and strip-o-gram arrived yet?”  He threatens divorce.

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A couple of years ago for his 40th, I convinced him that he had to be with the fam in Spain on his actual birthday (or I would threaten divorce.) He conceeded and a wonderful (low-key) time was had by all. To keep him on his toes all day, I kept him guessing if I’d really arranged a birthday banner on one of those aerial advertising planes.

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“Heads up at 3pm!”

I have a very dear friend who, on approaching her big 4-0 there was much fanfare and discussion about how it would be best celebrated. This planning began well over a year ago …it’s still going on.

Oh the decisions for the birthday girl or boy about what to do, how to celebrate, the food, the drink, the invites. But what about the pressure for the friends, whereby you are obliged to fulfil at least one, if not all of the following, depending on friendship status:

  1. Facebook post –  totes oblig. You get a notification FFS. All you need to do is a quick ‘Happy birthday x.’ Maybe a private joke, caring message, etc. Just don’t piggyback someone else’s wall message. That’s considered lazy.
  2. Photo upload – if it’s easily accessible, it’s a nice touch, but be wary of friends posting seemingly well-meaning wishes where they look fabulous and you look ropey.
  3. Photo collage – now we’re talking. A random three or four pic selection is all well and good, but you may as well go big or go home. Mosaic nine-grid minimum, black and white plus colour selection and if you’re tech savvy, a video inclusion within the grid is highly acceptable
  4. Duplicate all of the above for Instagram, where it’s acceptable (IMO) to piggyback a wall post and give well wishes.

That’s it surely?

Think again. If you’re dealing with a milestone birthday then drop everything, as there’s even more pre-prep to consider when you get messages like this in your inbox:

Hiiii……!!!!

It’s so-and-so’s birthday coming up in a year so please can you email so-and-so in two days time with the following:

  • A photo of you
  • A photo of you and the birthday girl
  • A photo of you and birthday girl aged five or younger (if you were friends)
  • A photo of you and the birthday girl’s second cousin, twice removed

nB. Photos needs to be landscape, 300DPI minimum, no compressing or genetically modifying.

Thanks. x

P.S. One more request: a poem or message (not too long, not too short) using times New Roman 14 point, saved as a PDF file with a greyscale filter set to a saturation of 39%. xx

P.P.S. Actually really need this by tomorrow afternoon, but the day after is ok if you’re blood-related. x x x

—-

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
‘Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be
Happy birthday to you….

Words and Lyrics by Stevie Wonder (the song, not my blog. Stevie Wonder did not write my blog.)

Happy birthday everyone x x x

 

 

 

There’s a Poop in the Pool…

As Soul II Soul once said, back to life back to reality.

My Summer fun is pretty much done and I can almost smell Rosh Hashana in the air. (In case of confusion, that’s the festival celebrating Jewish New Year which usually falls around mid-September and you can just smell an Autumnal change in the air).

After a few weeks on the Costa (Mill Hill-on-Sea), I am most definitely home, trapped (albeit happily) in my utility room, dealing with the wash load upon wash load that is a sure sign of a good holiday. You can spank money on the hotel laundry service all you like. You can hand wash to your heart’s content with your travel wash from Boots. Fact is, it will never convince me it looks or smells good enough, so I usually end up re-washing most of it. Although I did return home with a much hyped (on Facebook’s My Best Product Ever (#addicted) fabulous cleaning spray from the local hypermarket:

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For cookers, cars  ..and clothing

No two summers are ever the same and a big plus for 2016 was that both of my kids were fully swim proficient and could handle their own on a Taylor Swift-style inflatable. And this year it was definitely all about inflatables: crocodiles, unicorns, lemon slices, swans – I saw it all.

On top of the variety of inflatables this Summer, the ice cream consumption was off the clock. Like an enormous flash card, we all stand and point at the ice cream board and readily hand over our Euros. (A reward card would be nice, Walls. Just sayin’.) Yes, there are Peanut Butter Magnums, Negratons and Fantasmikos, but Sandwich de Nata is still my favourite 6pm sampler. Biscuit. Marshmallowy-soft ice cream. Perfecto.

 

Every day starts much the same – a promise to do some cardio just to ‘keep things ticking over’ – maybe a You tube Pilates video (“Hi I’m Christy, let’s work that booty…”), or some lengths in the pool? By 11:30am I’ve done half a pack of rice cakes (the ‘healthy snack’) and I’m like quality control on the kids’ crisps. It’s a job – somebody’s got to do it.

This year, I said to myself that I would be the ‘Mum that said yes’ when it came to the kids.

“Will you come in the pool with us?” Yes. And this time I wore goggles. Not my best look but I leave that to the messy bun, fresh-faced, slick of clear gloss brigade.

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I know who I am…

I borrowed eldest’s spare pair as I have super-sensitive eyes (cataracts, detached retina.. but that’s a whole other blog). Plus, if you saw the colour the pool water turns our swimwear, it’s no wonder my eyes sting. Chlorine catastrophe. Diving competitions, handstands, roly poly’s and the occasional pool evacuation for poop. Sometimes it was a stone. Sometimes it really was poop. Mass hysteria as we try to ignore the fact our kids are swimming in 90% urine as it is.

“Will you come in the sea?” Yes. And this time I wore my beach shoes as Marbs beaches can be rocky. It always fascinates me that I am on the ‘edge of land’. Like, literally right on the edge of Earth’s surface. Stepping into the blue bit of the light-up globe in my kids’ bedrooms. You get my point.

Once all the activity and excitement is over, Mama deserves a chill out with the grown ups. That’s when the inevitable ‘Dragons Den in the Sun’ begins. What can I invent to make me millions whilst lying here aiming for some semblance of a tan?

Post-it notes? Done.

Towel clips? Done.

Even the sure-fire winner of a suncream applicator booth was veto’d as apparently, according to Facebook (gospel).. done.

We were getting nowhere fast and it was time for a break (ie. more snacks). You know that programme Springwatch? Well, move over Bill Oddie. Round my pool, at a certain ‘time of the month’, it’s ‘Stringwatch’. Girls have all got each others backs (or fronts..) and give a knowing ‘nod’ as we palm one of ‘Mummy’s special carrots‘ and head off to the ladies.  I just wish the boys could look out for each other more. The amount of times I had to avert my eyes. You might think you are modest in your swim shorts, but with your excessive manspreading on your sunbed, the netting bag of ‘fresh plums’ is still very much on show.

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Close your legs, gents

I shouldn’t be unkind as I am most susceptible to ‘pitminj’.  I don’t think I need to explain, but most of my photos require careful editing.

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My armpit. My pitminj. My god…

Right, back to the ideas board for 2017. I’m hoping for something a bit better than my tan if I’m going to get that call from Peter Jones. “I’m in.”