diamond geezer

 Saturday, March 09, 2019

You don't get a birthday on a Saturday very often. This is my 8th, and I'm unlikely to see twelve.

Saturday 9th March 1968 (age 3): I don't remember this one, or at least I think I don't. My very earliest memory is of a birthday party in the back room at home, but it might not have been this one, and it might actually have been my brother's, and it's perfectly possible I'm entirely wrong in my perception. Whatever, my Mum would definitely have made sandwiches, cheesy cubes and sausages, possibly on sticks, and there would have been a cake topped off with a blue plastic number '3' holding three candles.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 1974 (age 9): This was just before we moved house, so my last birthday before I got a bedroom of my own. I don't know what I did in the morning, but BBC1 was showing Mary, Mungo and Midge, Josie and the Pussycats and Casey Jones, so they may have featured. Later in the evening Doctor Who was fighting the Daleks, but I probably missed that episode because a birthday tea with carefully-invited friends would have taken precedence. What I do remember is that in the evening we went out to see Captain Pugwash, a swashbuckling musical show for kids in central Watford, either at the Palace Theatre or the Town Hall Assembly Rooms, and I thank my parents for their forbearance.

11 year gap
Saturday 9th March 1985 (age 20): I was at university for this birthday, living out, and passed from teenagerdom at midnight while playing Frogger on the in-house BBC Micro. Altogether I received 23 birthday cards, the envelope from my grandmother having to be retrieved from a wrongly-addressed house up the road. Amongst the day's treats were putting the bins out, going to Tesco to buy Creme Eggs and tackling the prize alphabetical jigsaw in the paper. In the early evening I was treated to a new Doctor Who episode, except it was Timelash, widely regarded as one of the worst stories ever broadcast. And then a large group of students went out for my birthday meal at the restaurant above Debenhams, where I had a cheeseburger (because I didn't fancy going Italian) followed by chocolate profiteroles. The bill came to just over five pounds each, including the bottle of wine they almost forgot to charge us for. I decided to skip the collective invitation to watch to late night films at the arthouse cinema, and headed home alone.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 1991 (age 26): I was woken by my Mum, who wanted to open her birthday cards, so I quickly scribbled in hers and crossed the landing to join the rest of the family. My gift to her was a chopping board, and her gift to me was a cross stitch tapestry of Windsor Castle. I spent the morning eating bacon sandwiches and watching Going Live, then lunch involved eating battered corned beef and enduring Saint and Greavsie. I spent the afternoon stapling the Red Nose Day project that'd get me onto the front cover of the local paper, and climbing up into the loft to retrieve boxes of readymade nostalgia. In the evening the whole family went out to a Beefeater for a joint birthday treat, where I enjoyed soup, steak and profiteroles, and the bill came to £49.95. Back home we played some of the now-embarrassing cassettes my parents had recorded of my brother and I when we were very young, and somehow ended up discussing the music we wanted played at our funerals.

5 year gap
Saturday 9th March 1996 (age 31): Arrived home very late, after our team came first at the annual workplace quiz night. Woke up early to open not many cards, one of which (embarrassingly) was from a unreciprocated secret admirer. Then took the coach to Cambridge and the train to Norfolk where I was picked up by my eighteen-month old nephew and his parents. Wished Mum a happy 61st. Her brother and sister and their respective families turned up for lunch, which was serve-yourself chicken, and obviously I picked lemon meringue pie from the selection of four puddings. For reasons I do not remember, one of my presents was a kettle. Spent the afternoon being amused by the under-2s and not going for a walk because it was raining. Nobody felt hungry enough to eat much birthday cake, relations gradually drifted away, and I ended the day watching a video of Gina G winning last night's Song For Europe.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2002 (age 37): I kicked off my 37th standing in the coat queue of a well known London nightclub. My birthday was toasted with plastic bottles of Smirnoff Ice and a floorful of nostalgic tunes, until at 3am I was aghast to discover I'd lost my coat check ticket. Thankfully they handed back my jacket anyway. Got the nightbus home. After not enough sleep I urgently tidied the flat, dashed to the dry cleaners and then went to meet my parents at Stratford station. This year's swapped gifts were candles for my Mum and another cross-stitch tapestry for my collection. It was then time to meet up with my Dad's side of the family and go for lunch at Garfunkels. We had a booking on the London Eye at three, which was the last thing I ever thought my Mum could be persuaded to do but she coped just fine. Afterwards we headed downriver to walk across the Millennium Bridge (ditto), then tubed back to my flat where Dad hung some curtains. And once everyone else eventually left, BestMate drove round and I ended my 37th birthday on the threshold of another London nightclub. Cheers!

11 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2013 (age 48): The thing to do when you haven't had a birthday on a Saturday for ages is take a day trip to France. That meant an alarm clock set for 4, a nightbus at 5 and squinting to read my seat number aboard Eurostar at 6. London was grey, cold and wet, but Paris thankfully proved mild, dry and sunny. First stop was the Eiffel Tower, before the queues got too long, walking up to the 2ème étage for €5. My second destination was Père Lachaise cemetery, to track down Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, plus as an excuse to ride the 3bis. Next I went to the Musée d'Orsay to enjoy the impressionists, then did a lot of cross-city flâneuring until it was time to get the late train home. I was very impressed when the customs officer checking passports wished me a happy birthday. But you know most of this already, because this is my one Saturday birthday since I started blogging.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2019 (age 54): tbc

5 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2024 (age 59): A five year gap is the shortest possible (and comes round every 28 years). At least I still get to be in my fifties for this one.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2030 (age 65): Here's my tenth Saturday birthday, fingers crossed. When I was younger, this was the day I was due to receive my state pension and become old. It is no longer either of those things.

11 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2041 (age 76): An eleven year gap is the longest possible (and comes round every 28 years). 6+5+6+11=28, and repeat.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2047 (age 82): I'm not due to reach this one. I checked on an actuarial website, and the average life expectancy of a 54 year-old man in 2019 is 81 years 7 months. Even tweaking all the additional risk factors (never smoked, doesn't over-drink, not especially overweight, walks quite a bit) doesn't yank the calculated estimate past my 82nd birthday. That doesn't mean I won't reach it, of course, but it does put the probability below 50/50 so it's more than likely I won't. Never try this kind of calculation yourself, especially on your birthday, because it's mildly depressing.

5 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2052 (age 87): Ahh.

6 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2058 (age 93): Hmmm.

11 year gap
Saturday 9th March 2069 (age 104): Nah.

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