A man knocked me up yesterday morning - with a large M&S box containing flowers from my oldest friend who couldn't be with me in the evening. Then eldest daughter Louise phoned and sang at me, while baby Gus shouted in harmony. This was interrupted by Miles and partner Clare knocking on the door, with arms full (how did they manage that?) of flowers, balloons, POURED bucks fizz, pains au chocolat and croissants. After a lovely breakfast, I checked the emails to find loads of good wishes from my writing mates, and a great e-card from Philly, sent just before she embarked on her trip round the Whitsundays. She then managed to phone from her mobile, at ENORMOUS expense from mid-ocean.
Hairdresser at 12, and there aren't many of us who receive a bouquet from the hairdressers! Off home to try and find more vases, then Miles, Clare, Louise, Jarrod and Gus came to join Leo and me for lunchtime fizz, presents, cards and olives. I was touched beyond belief that the children had picked up a passing reference of mine to a limited edition facsimile of John Betjeman's Archie and the Strict Baptists, a story he wrote and illustrated for his children in a Windsor and Newton sketch book. It had been gift wrapped - beautifully, in recycled wrapping paper and rosette - by Long Barn books and included a postcard reproduction of the book with a suitable message. They all contributed, but Louise's was the guiding hand. Baby Gus bought me a new hat box (for old costume jewellery, not hats) and Miles and Clare bought me another terrific book, about Alfred Bestall (he of Rupert fame) by his god-daughter, and a beautiful Aveda Candle. Leo bought me Glenfiddich.
Leo's best friend Alex moved in during the afternoon, following a split with his girlfriend. As the poor lad's parents have gone back to New Zealand, I'm substitute Mum. Philly's bedroom now has all the stuff pushed to the walls and all Alex's stuff on top of it! Trust he and Leo will have found a flat together before Philly comes home to reclaim her space. So much for me saying no-one could stay...
Philly's ex arrived on his motorbike at 6, had a cup of tea and went off to Miles's house, then I went to change and get ready to celebrate.
Despite my saying many, many times I didn't want presents, no-one had taken any notice. Bling and booze was the recurring theme. Miles and his duo partner Martin, known as Bona Tunes, provided musical entertainment, augmented occasionally by Leo on keyboard and one song from Lou. Another friend sang, too, and what with the food, the music and the added bonus of the lunar eclipse, the joint was jumping. It was my best birthday ever, especially as a friend who had a stroke and is only recently out of hospital made it, thanks to his indefatigable wife, who, due to a selfish streak, she says(!) is not about to let him sit about and degenerate. He's going to be talking, walking properly and back playing the guitar if she has anything to do with it.
Managed to keep the spectre of Brian at bay most of the time, although it is difficult, what with everybody saying how like him both sons are, and especially when Miles is performing. And of course, Miles does some of his songs. Also, inevitably, one group of friends who were intially Brian's. Over the years, obviously, they became my closest friends, but since Brian's death we have drifted apart. But, bless them, they all came (including aforesaid friend with indefatigable wife) and stayed overnight. Hope to see them briefly this morning before lunching with cousins and children - thirteen of us, or fourteen with Gus.
I had the best time. Nearly 70 (apparently) people all having a good time, not necessarily with me, but with each other, my family and music. And I was so pleased with my outfit for the occasion I didn't want to take it off.
No hangover this morning as I was sensible last night. My first drink lasted an hour and three quarters! Finished up watching recorded episode of Primeval with a Glenfiddich and went happy to bed.
And thanks to my friend Mary, I have changed the time of this post to BST!