This week I joined a club. You don't have to pay membership subscriptions to become a member, in fact you are given money to join. Not everyone is eligible - you have to meet certain criteria - but most people don't really want to join in the first place. I am talking about the club of OAPs (Old Aged Pensioners). I have reached my 60th birthday (yikes, how did I get there?).
I must confess to dreading it beforehand - one foot in the grave, God's waiting room etc. "I'm too young to die", I thought. I don't feel sixty. Nearly everyone I know or meet, says I don't look sixty, more like forty. I am still energetic, have all my own teeth and marbles and am a dab hand with a mallet or a paintbrush. I don't wear furry hats which have flaps over my ears and I don't push bits of rubbish into the kerb with a walking stick. However, am I now supposed to push my decrepit way to the front of the bus queue waving my free bus-pass or hopping on a coach for a day-trip to Bournemouth? Am I destined to watching back-to-back editions of Flog it or Escape to the Country to fill up my days? The approach of my sixtieth birthday (particularly without Greg) did not fill me with enthusiasm.
My two best friends from University days came to the rescue. One couldn't be there at the beginning of my birthday, the other could not be there at the end, so between them they devised a plan. One with her husband arrived the day before, accompanied me to my favourite national heritage site here, then we spent a lovely evening together, with them staying over. She brought me breakfast in bed the next day on my birthday, then decorated the kitchen table with flowers, balloons and breakfast things. They treated me to a lovely lunch in a local Italian restaurant, then once home again, they broke open a bottle of champagne and, together with my other friend who by now had turned up, sang Happy Birthday while I cut a cake the second friend had brought. The first friend and her husband then had to leave mid-afternoon, but the second one carried on showering me with presents, her lovely company and photos of her recent holidays to Vienna and Prague. We chatted non-stop and didn't get to bed until nearly 1 am.
We woke up to the first snow this season in London. My second friend needed to get back before the snow made travelling to Brighton impossible, so I waved her off mid-morning. It went on to snow all day and we are now under a white fluffy blanket of about 6 inches. Thankfully, I am in the warm and truly thankful for wonderful friends, who not only helped me to get through my first birthday without Greg, but made my transition into OAP-dom thoroughly memorable. Is Escape to the Country on yet? No fear.... I might even start training for the next London Marathon! That is, when the snow melts.....
View from my window this morning