Monday, July 13, 2009

Minor Miscalculation

Women and birthdays. Just... putting the two together like that is enough to make grown men shudder, if they have any sense at all.

Natalie has never been particularly sensitive about her age. But neither has she made much fuss of birthdays, and she's been kind of snarky about the big fuss made over things like 21sts and 30ths and so forth. In general, I arrange for the kids to find cards and presents for her, and she gets a bit of a lie-in and something nice for tea, and a bit of free time and a cake, and everybody goes away happy.

So. Natalie turned 40 in February. Very nicely, I might add. She still fits her wedding dress of fourteen years ago. Both of us have lines we didn't back then, and streaks of silver here and there, but on the other hand, as I mentioned quite forcefully to a friend just a few day ago, we have three children. Silver is a thing you can earn.

Anyway, I took a look at that whole '40' thing, and I thought long and hard. And in the end, I made a judgement call, and kept it all very low key indeed. Because I figured -- you know, she's not such a one for birthdays anyway, and if ever a birthday was going to give a woman pause, it would be the 40th.

Unfortunately, the judgement call was out. By quite a lot. Remember that Harmison first ball in the last Ashes series? Yeah, it was that far out. Second slip. Apparently, what I should have done was organise a large and thronging crowd for cocktails, music, barbecue, and roistering.

There's a thing, right there. As anybody who knows my wife will point out, cocktails and roistering, noise and crowds are not on the list of things she's likely to sing about when confronted by a family of Austrians trying to escape the Nazis. In fact, she rather goes out of her way to avoid such shenanigans. (And escaping Austrians - as does any sensible person.)

Thus it was that I have to profess myself extraordinarily grateful to Uphill Neighbour Mad Mike the Historian and his marvellous wife Eddy. They just sort of... decided... that there Would Be A Party. And be damned if it was July.

See, I could never have done that. If I'd tried, it would simply have been 'too late', as it is for every husband who gets the signals mixed up like that. And it would have been 'too late' for the next ten years or so, I reckon. But Mike is a man of Certain Energies, and so invitations were made, and food was prepared, and the very fine House Uphill was made ready...

... actually, it was a pretty decent party. Mike cooked his not inconsiderable arse off, providing a range of tasty Greek main courses. Anna the Wondermum brought her brood, and also provided the most amazingly beautiful Trad Swedish gingerbread house, complete with Trad Swedish M&M decorations, and there were desserts and lemon squares and kids underfoot and wine and bubbly, and all manner of good things. Of course, the weather was shabby which kept the Launceston musical contingent in check... but that just meant there was more tasty stuff to go around.

And yours truly prepared a remarkable array of toothsome hors d'ouevres, and has therefore hopefully redeemed himself to a degree.

Therein endeth the lesson, gentlemen: if you've screwed the pooch and missed a birthday you should have feted, best hope you have an emphatic, energetic Greek-cooking comrade to bail you out...