DUTY AND THE FEAST

“HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY YOU OLD GIT!!”

My husband opens one reluctant eye and glares at me over the crumpled duvet.

“Could you not have waited just 10 minutes more before dragging me out of oblivion? Kylie and Danni will not be happy that I’ve had to remove myself from the naked locomotion at such short notice. What time is it?

I look at the clock. It’s only 7.30am. The ‘surprise’ party doesn’t begin until noon but I need a few hours to remould my pillow face back into its pre-sleep position. By the time Piers Morgan has offended most of the British public and Lorraine takes over the helm the creases should have ironed themselves out (marginally) so I can be allowed out in public.

“I’ve got a surprise lined up to celebrate you still having your own teeth and hips dear husband. Granted it’s not Miami as previously planned, but hopefully it will be fun and will involve friends, food and alcohol. You need a shave and Brian needs to be walked”

The greying haired form opens his other eye and yawns. “So basically, it’s like any other normal weekend pre Covid but I’ll be officially inaugurated into the SAGA club along with all you other oldies”. He suddenly pauses mid sentence, reality dawning, “Ooh do you think they’ll bring me presents?”

I leave the man child to ponder the merits of Tonka toys and trifle and head to the bathroom to wash away my misgivings. Organising a birthday party in lockdown February hasn’t been the easiest of tasks. We are forbidden to leave Mijas so the only guests I can invite are from within this allotted area. Old friendships have been resurrected and spanx have been dragged out from the back of the dusty knicker draw. Luckily for us, a good friend has offered us the use of his wonderful restaurant in the hills ‘The Carob Bar’ and has decorated 5 socially distanced tables with balloons and frivolity. Party food and a compère will be provided alongside a cake baked by a willing accomplice.

Surprisingly, all 18 people accepted the invitation to celebrate this landmark birthday, no doubt relieved to be able to step out of the confines of their sunny prisons to pretend that covid hasn’t as yet destroyed their sanity or livelihoods and the past year had been nothing more than an MSG induced hideous dream.

I look at myself in the steamed up mirror. I guess it’s time to resurrect my party face with the help of Mr Rimmel and Mrs Revlon.

“Are you going to be long mum? I’ve got to clean my teeth for school!”, yells the 15 year old from the teenage pit.

Sighing, I place the trowel back on its stand. The facial grouting will just have to wait awhile.

A few hours and several layers later I’m adorned in my disco spangles and gripping my husbands hand for dear life. My trotters have been crammed into a pair of 4 inch heels that haven’t seen the light of day since Bros were in the charts. I feel like the worlds oldest drag artist as I step into the restaurant alongside the smartly attired birthday boy. Masked faces turn in unison and wave greetings of recognition, ageing elbows are banged together in the new socially accepted way and laughter embraces the room. My husbands face lights up like Blackpool illuminations on a November eve, and he grips my hand tight in a way I haven’t experienced since this whole pandemic began.

Friends I haven’t seen for almost a year smile with optimistic eyes as laughter is muffled behind an assortment of elasticated fabric. Everyone searches for their allocated tables and embrace the freedom that this special birthday allows.

The room is alight with animated chatter and glasses are raised in celebration. I internally breathe a sigh of relief and remove my mask to inhale the vodka that has been placed before me. A game of ‘Singo bingo’ suddenly erupts and all of us who remember life in the 1980’s are suddenly transported back to the days we were allowed to gyrate alongside hormonal strangers and kiss whoever appeared wiling after several Pernod and blacks during the 2am erection section of the local disco.

I turn to my husband. He’s having a whale of a time. Yelling the lyrics to a Bon Jovi tune and smiling at his friends scattered around the room. Another glass of jack Daniels is placed in front of him and he removes his mask to take a sip. I catch his eye and he mouths ‘thank you’ and nudges my knee with his.

I smile and congratulate myself that I took the chance to embrace this day, to look forward to the future we will all hopefully achieve and enjoy the remnants of the past we were privileged to live.

“Time to waft out the cake”, yells a voice from behind the bar and my husband rises and smooths down his shirt. No one is allowed to blow candles out anymore. That was the privilege of yesteryear. All eyes are on him, today is his day. Applause ripples around the room and I can feel the man who was reduced to a husk not so long ago, embrace his new found stature and march over to the sugar laden trophy.

“Go waft em cowboy”, I whisper to his retreating form and raise my glass to our future, whatever that may be and more-so, wherever it may be.

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5 Replies to “DUTY AND THE FEAST”

  1. Quite brilliant! You are a truly fantastic writer! Yes, I will buy your book too! Who wouldn´t!?

    We are based in Estepona for 16 years and have a business here having moved from the UK and sold up.
    The trials and tribulations you detail and capture so well are so absolutely on the button and so true! Sometimes, we don´t know whether to laugh or cry but the giggles reign, the sun shines, I can have a fag without upsetting people and conquer all the bad bits. I´m going to a wedding in August in Elche to witness the marriage of my husbands nephew.
    Terrified of the “heels I have to wear” Flip flops are going to be a big “No, No” They are marrying in the Basilica and Im not sure if “He must be Obeyed” will look on me with a kind eye dressed in a multi-coloured kaftan and Primark flips!

    Great and thank you and belated 50th to your husband.
    Hope Brian is keeping well X

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