Friday, 22 October 2010

Driver's Dream Day

Sometimes I wonder who’s the child around here: ‘I want my special 50th birthday surprise this weekend, not six months after my birthday’ said Alan. He was positively pouting! He made a great fuss of rearranging the covers, turned over with a big bang (we were in bed) and made as if to go to sleep.

The Birthday Boy was tired and fractious – too much excitement in one day; work had made a huge fuss of him, balloons and cakes, then a family meal out, the present opening ceremony…and now it was a whole year until his special day came round again. It wasn’t fair! ‘OK, OK,’ I soothed, ‘You can have your birthday surprise this weekend…but now it’s sleepy-time; you’re overtired’ and I patted him to sleep.

The birthday surprise I had planned was a ‘Drivers Dream Day’ – he’d drive a Ferrari around a racing track, then be driven ultra fast as a passenger by a professional, and then we’d both be thrown about in a jeep. A meal out and a night away with his loved one (me) would top it off…a gift of preposterous lavishness in my view, but there’s a history…

In the early years, I knitted him socks, painted him pictures, shyly waiting for an appropriate exclamation ‘Ah! You knitted me socks - they are unique and demonstrate true love’, but instead he’d look confused and a smile would play about his lips, almost a giggle. ‘Thankyou’ he would say, awkwardly (‘you cannot be serious!’) and that was the last I saw of the socks. Some of the paintings made it to low grade walls, upstairs loo or some such, others straight to storage until a polite interval had passed until the frames could be reused; whereas in my austere upbringing, a single modest but thoughtful gift in familiar wrapping paper was a fitting climax to a birthday (thankyou Mother, I was hoping for a new dictionary!), in his, the splurge factor demanded big, posh, shiny stuff – Moet Chandon! Leather bound volumes! Swedish furniture! Thick wrapping paper, curly bows, silken flowers.…

In the event he was delighted with his Drivers Dream Day (though I’m sure he’d have accepted Monaco, if Pro-Drive Birmingham hadn’t been available) and he whizzed around like, well, a 50 year old in a Ferrari. I crossed my fingers - he made a respectable 120mph top speed, upped to 130mph in the retelling - and I took photos of him next to his wheels (cut off his head, but I was forgiven on this special occasion). We were still awash with day; no food loop - fridge, counter, cooker, table, counter, fridge, counter, cooker - to fill the hours; no sweet chirpings - ‘Mummy I’m bored what’s for tea he hit me Mummy Mummy answer me!’ - to fill the silence, so we sat and talked.. We discussed the children of course, the grandparents, which is the same conversation, but also the future! the past! fiscal policy! (joke). We were positively chattering!!

We got back, unpacked and had a cup of tea, and when I heard the adverts in the front room, I thought I’d let the children welcome us home, so went in to see them. ‘Hello everyone! We missed you!’ ‘Hello, Mummy’ they said ‘just move to the side will you? – this advert’s so cool.’

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