I said I would start at the beginning and what better than on a birthday! Because we live in the facebook age the number of wishes seem to equate with the number of friends you have gathered over the years! Well I was overwhelmed by the number of messages (most of whom I know!) so thanks for making me feel really special and remembered! And through technology it’s so easy to remember, no senior moments allowed! So 69 years ago today ( I am proud of my years!) I was born near London. An inauspicious occasion for all but my nearest and dearest, but Bushey Middlesex – so yes, born under a bush, was the place recorded on my Birth certificate! If I think back birthdays never seemed to be very important. when I lived in the UK.. I don’t remember major parties other than maybe going to some and being struck dumb by all the kids there and feeling very much the oddball.
Perhaps that’s where I should begin.
Every choice we make in life has a consequence, good, bad or indifferent. My Dad chose to move from London to live in a small seaside town called Bognor Regis (there, I’ve admitted it!) in 1948. Famed for the dying phrase from King George V (or was it VI?) who apparently loved Bognor for its recuperative properties he died saying” bugger Bognor” or so the urban legend goes, this small town was where Dad chose to open a business and bring up a family.
We came from the Jewish ghetto of Hendon in London to a town that boasted three Jewish families, two of which were family! But since my Dad was in the rag trade and opened a high class ‘dress shop’ suitable for the wealthy matrons of the Aldwick Estate, we were accepted in the main.
That is until it came to coming to our house.
There are only two of my birthdays that stand out. One at primary school when I thought I should follow the lead and invite kids home to my place for a birthday tea. Mum made jelly, a rabbit shaped blancmange and cookies and we waited….it was soon apparent that none of my schoolmates thought fit to turn up so I gorged myself on the food and learnt the lesson.
I suppose it was then that I realised I was seen as ‘different’; small towns were not very integrated then and the Brits can be very bigoted. A black or brown face would have elicited shock, horror and appalling abuse in those days and those of other persuasions… the devil incarnate! My father was liberal and his advice to me was ‘Don’t discriminate – you have no right to.’
So that is the lesson that I have tried to follow through life.
My 21st birthday was rather different. My aunt Nina, who was the ‘lady of the family’ and had a florist shop in Mayfair, took us all out to dinner and a show: Fiddler on the Roof with Topol – such magic and sophistication and an experience I never wanted to end.
On the ‘homefront’ in Bognor I went out with the current boyfriend, his mate and girlfriend and we had a dinner at some ‘posh’ place!! Very grown up.
So for me birthdays were not that much of a landmark other than measuring the passage of time – until I came to SA!
Since living here I have celebrated with the best; thrown surprise birthdays and enjoyed recording each ‘0’ that I have reached with much revelry! (and hangovers); memorable 30 – the era of communal houses and a ‘kids’ party complete with jelly and blancmange and a drive home through Hillbrow with matted hair full of the jelly etc and smarties; sophisticated 40 with a small family group; crazy 50 with a Mexican theme and masses of tequila which included the hangover next day and then four parties to celebrate my 60th – Chile, Barnyard, wine farm lunch and a home sort – of surprise party! Watch this space for next year, by which stage I will have filled in the gaps of the decades.
Birthdays are a good excuse to get together with loved ones and simply enjoy company and good food – but why would we need an excuse…every day is a good day to be together. So celebrate everyday in some way – the fact that we are still alive, healthy and can enjoy waking each morning is not about a number – it’ s an attitude. And attitude is sexy – so from a 39 year old head I am toasting my 69 years and all of yours too!!