Yesterday (29 November) was a milestone birthday in my life - one with an 0 on the end. I don't know why they become such important birthdays, as in theory, you are only one year older than the year before, but we feel the compulsion to celebrate them more than the others. However, apart from feeling joyous, it can make you depressed as you are then pushed from the last decade into the next decade of numbers. In my case, I turned 70, which meant I was starting to descend into what most people consider old age. From now on, I would be seventy-something. You see the headlines "Granny of 71 mugged on way to collect her pension. "Granny of 73 abused in care home". You know the kind of thing. I felt I was on a slippery slope. One Foot in the Grave as characterised by that lovely sitcom with Victor Meldrew. I was therefore approaching this birthday with a certain sense of trepidation.
Back at the start of this year, when Covid was not even a word in the dictionary, Kay and I had been musing on what format my 70th would take. We had grand ideas of a party at a grand venue to invite everyone I had ever known, or as near damn it. But by March, with news of Covid and cancellation of big events, it had become clear that was ambitious if not foolhardy. Not only might the event be cancelled, but the venue might go bust, or getting many invitees in their 70s and even 80s together under one roof would be dangerous in the backdrop of the virus. As the months went by, the event morphed into maybe a small gathering of six people inside or outside and then, with the latest lockdown, not at all. Kay was adamant she would come no matter what, as she is in my "bubble" and did not want me to be on my own for this special day, but to be honest I wondered how realistic this would be as she works in Intensive Care and is facing Covid on a daily basis. I am shielding because of an autoimmune problem called sarcoidosis. The two are not necessarily compatible. I joked that maybe I would just stay 69 for another five years until Covid would allow me to celebrate in, say, 2025. Or start to move back towards the age of 21 like many an actress or film star did in the past. There had to be some advantages to Covid.
Kay's boyfriend, a dentist, has a box of Covid testing kits, as he has to test twice a week for his job. The results are ready in 30 minutes (a bit like a pregnancy testing kit) and are about 75% reliable. So he and Kay tested themselves on Friday and with negative results turned up here in the evening after work. Kay and he busied themselves on Saturday with my access to the kitchen strictly banned. I could hear bashings and bangings, cooking smells wafted around the house, questions were asked "where do you keep the.....?" I was intrigued.
My birthday dawned and I came downstairs at the agreed breakfast time to party poppers, balloons and Bucks Fizz. Kay had set up a zoom meeting in the morning with family. We went for a long walk to our local park at lunchtime. More zoom meetings to friends in the afternoon. Then mid-afternoon Kay laid on the most amazing spread - all hand-made. In our earlier musings we had considered a cream tea of Ritz or Savoy proportions, so Kay emulated this and far excelled what I would have had in those prestigious hotels. The sandwiches and handmade white and dark chocolate tartlets were amazing but the birthday cake alone was a masterpiece and her grandad would have been so proud of her as he was a Chef Patissier at a famous hotel. If ever she should fail as a doctor, patisserie is her way forward.
Although I was somewhat dreading the day, it turned out to be wonderful, mainly because of the hard work and love my gorgeous daughter put into it. So now I am 70 but hopefully not yet one foot in the grave.