Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Birthday Bingo Part Two

When you don't take the time to re-read and edit your posts, when you allow your writing to become something of a stream of consciousness, and when the pages like the days are merging into one, it can be disconcerting to get to the bottom of a post and realise what you have written bears little or no resemblance to the title you started out with.

The earlier post was supposed to be about my 61st birthday. Which happened to be yesterday. I have heard it said on good authority that this year's birthdays don't count, so I am in fact sixty for another year. Which is actually quite nice when you consider "over 60" apparently puts you at greater risk of complications from the Coronavirus. The very fact of the pandemic cancelling out my birthday has made it statistically less likely I will be badly affected if I contract it. Dream on...

Waking up on a lockdown birthday was a little weird if I am honest. The messages on social media started shortly after midnight from friends on the other side of the world. And they are still coming from some who may have been alerted by a friend's post perhaps. So I have heard from literally hundreds of people. Unlike last year (my actual 60th birthday) I don't have lots of actually cards. Instead I have many many messages some of which are from people I haven't seen or heard from for ages.

Coming downstairs yesterday it was especially special to see the room bedecked with banners and bunting wishing me a happy birthday, which seemed somehow a contradiction. How could a day set apart from family and friends be a happy one?

However that was to change as the day went on. A parcel arrived - the fluffiest new dressing gown! A bottle of Salted Caramel Baileys! Baileys Chocolates! A few cards did arrive and the sentiments were so lovely. Home crafted cards from people with tine on their hands, lovely long messages from folk no longer in a rush. And to top it all the most incredible five piece card designed and created by my children. I need to take a very good photo of that and post it on here!

The doorbell rang as I was making another pasta bake (lockdown dinner if ever there was one) and wondering if I could somehow make a cake. I've been limiting trips to The Kitchen as much as possible, only for essential supplies and to check on the property. Looking through the kitchen cupboards here was like walking into a crime scene from five years ago where things were five years out of date. That baking powder was definitely NOT going to make plain flour rise and the only sugar was granulated, not the fine caster sugar that makes the finest sponges!

As if on cue the front door bell rang and on the step was a bag of surprises. I will take and edit in photos but for now suffice to say a luscious fruit cake, the cards described above, a beautiful isolation pamper kit and a LOT of love!

Rachel of course was at the bottom of the drive, having used her daily exercise allowance to walk over from her flat with this wonderful bag of treats. She was looking thirsty so I hastily assembled a gin and ginger ale with a slice of frozen orange and left it on the doorstep for her to pick up as I retreated into the hallway...

We arranged a call with Kim and Anne at 5pm, prior to which we sang and cut the cake with Ian and Dave. Drinks and chat later it was time for  the pasta bake! I am so grateful that I can cook. And not just cook, but also create something tasty seemingly from nothing. It's a bit like Ready Steady Cook here, trying hard never to waste anything and working out how to use up whatever is in the fridge or freezer. We're so fortunate to have the supplies of food at The Kitchen and I have been bagging up flour, sugar, margarine and other ingredients for anyone who is desperate. We're also gradually emptying the freezers of cakes, as treats for neighbours, ICU staff and others which does of course beg the question why I didn't just grab one as a birthday cake but let's be honest Rachel's was just the best!)

Party time was at 7.30pm. As we assembled on Facebook Messenger I was instructed to open a brown envelope that had also been dropped off. Inside - bingo! With Rachel as the caller, in her sequinned top no less, we enjoyed a rousing game of regular and then birthday bingo. With Gin, Prosecco, Gary Barlow and other such treats being pulled out of the bag!

One more person joined the party as Rachel played us a video message from Adrian Mariappa. Any Watford FC fan will know him as an absolutely lovely player who's been with the club for ten years. In fact we were due to attend his testimonial dinner. He said really lovely things as his son sang Happy Birthday to me - icing on the cake!

A glass too many of the salted caramel Brownies rounded off a very lovely day. I wonder how many more people will be enjoying lockdown birthdays this year as I cannot see ahead to a time when gatherings will again be permitted. But for now we really are learning to take one day at a time.

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