diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 09, 2010

a house in EnfieldIn this Enfield house, precisely 75 years ago today, a baby girl was born. She didn't live here for long - the family moved a short time afterwards - but within these walls were her first breaths, her first gurgles and her first "oh thank goodness she's slept through the night".
I went up to Enfield to visit this house for the very first time last Christmas. It struck me I'd never been before, to what was an extremely important place in my Mum's life, and I thought I ought to finally make the effort. It being less than a week since her death, I may not have been in the most stable emotional state as I walked up the unfamiliar street. I located number 52, then stood on the pavement across the road and looked the two-up two-down up and down. I'd just got my camera out when the front door opened and the current owner emerged. He immediately walked over and demanded to know what I was up to, having spotted a highly suspicious middle-aged man giving his property the once over. I explained that my Mum had been born here, and that she'd very recently died, and undoubtedly sounded a bit weird and quite incoherent. He wasn't interested, except in me moving on as quickly as possible, so it didn't seem worth prolonging the conversation any further. I did at least catch a glimpse of his hallway before the door closed behind him, but a bit of a social disaster all round, truth be told.
Precisely 30 years later, to that same young woman, a baby boy was born. He was her first child, a tiny dark-haired thing, emerging into the world kicking and bawling in the early hours of the morning. Of all the things to be doing on your 30th birthday, giving birth probably doesn't come near the top of the list. But my Mum never complained, even though I was about to grow into the most demanding birthday present she ever had.

Over the years that followed, one of the defining bonds between my mother and I was that we shared the same birthday. When I had my schoolmates round for jelly and candle-cake, she got to slave away in the kitchen sticking sausages on sticks. On the day I hit double figures, her scarier milestone of turning 40 passed relatively unnoticed. For my 21st she drove across country to my university bedsit and attempted to reheat a specially pre-cooked meal on an under-performing utility hob. At 32 I'd failed to complete my deep clean of the bathroom before she came round, so she helped me finish scrubbing before we got round to opening our presents. In more recent years I've always made a point of taking our birthday off work and heading up to Norfolk, because I never knew how many special coincidental birthdays we had left.

This year, alas, is different. Today would have been our joint 120th birthday, except it isn't. Instead I'm headed up to Norfolk to celebrate what would have been my Mum's 75th in a very different way. The family are gathering together somewhere in the vicinity of Norwich, somewhere around lunchtime, to scatter her ashes over somewhere green. Then we're all heading off for the usual (yet not at all usual) birthday meal, at which glasses will be raised and memories shared. For me today is to be one last joint anniversary, one ultimate day together.

And then next year I'll finally get the ninth day of March to myself, a birthday wholly for me, shared with nobody else. That may be how most of your birthdays have always been, but I wonder what it's going to feel like for me. I'd happily have waited to find out.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream