Birthday Barbie

On Sunday as the kitchen clock’s minute hand shifted onto 08.15am, marking the time of my birth 58 years to the day, I sat at the breakfast table reflecting on the circle of life. In particular, pondering that on that occasion how reliant I’d have been on the 22 year old who’d just given birth to yours truly. Nearly sixty years later, this lady now relying on reciprocal support from that same offspring.

GJ Strachan’s current role as his maternal forebears carer his repayment for a childhood of love, security, laughter and unlimited access to knitted balaclavas. Okay, as a kid, having to adorn the latter during cold north east England winters doesn’t warrant favourable mention in parental despatches. However, I reconcile been made to wear such cosmetically distasteful looking headwear with re-assuring notions my mum would’ve meant well at the time.

With tongue firmly in cheek, with that parental calumny in mind, perhaps I should administer retribution on Maggie. Subjecting her to the ignominy of donning a balaclava when wheeling her around the avenues of the West Yorkshire village she calls home.

A scene perhaps playing out with Maggie receiving the pitiful gazes yours truly encountered as a young child navigating Dartmouth Avenue and Chowdene Bank, my destination Oakfield Junior School.

That. being said, I wasn’t the only school kid who sported these crimes against millinery in the 1970’s; and probably aren’t the only wearer suffering from subsequent mental scars. No doubt, though, sight of me in the knitted dark green must’ve manifested passerby notions of “He must be trying to hide his massive lugs.”, “I wonder if he’s disfigured?!“, or “If I’d a face like that I’d wear the balaclava the other way around!”

Anyhow, I didn’t dwell on the topic of balaclavas for long. After all, it was my birthday. My breakfast concluded with smiles at thoughts my two adult children and their partners were arriving at midday for a socially distant barbecue……. Or at least, adhering to COVID protocols was the excuse used by them for leaving me isolated by the bbq grill to cook all the fodder.

That being said, I’m being unfair to my daughter Rachel and my son’s fiancé Jenny who prepared the salad……. Well, opened the bags of pre-washed lettuce, quartered piccolini tomatoes, chopped a separate onion salad side and served the coleslaw.

Seated in chez Strachan’s back garden, after devouring a meat smorgasbord of burgers, sausages, along with skewered beef and chicken kebabs, my son Jonny commenced the planned post meal entertainment by revealing his ten favourite pasta recipes….. At least yours truly thinks there were ten; I kinda zoned out halfway through number three (an offal penne).

Later, whilst Jonny and my mum Maggie argued over whether linguine or prawns made the best house pets, Rachel and partner Brian provided further after meal entertainment by singing a medley of songs from my favourite musical West Side Story…… Few of the refrain lyrics were correct, however, I appreciated the gesture.

Witnessing these captivating alfresco diversions, I was deeply moved by my family’s efforts at making yours truly’s special day one to remember. At the conclusion of the younger members ‘party pieces’, my octogenarian mum upped entertainment brio levels even higher by relaying to a now nodding audience her last two spectacle prescriptions.

As the Yorkshire sun shone on the righteous, not to mention us six reprobates, as Sunday afternoon progressed the matriarch enlightened the twenty/thirty somethings and I with her eyesight Sphere, CYL and axis prescription data. An episode in which you have to partake to appreciate its compelling nature.

Shortly before this birthday bash concluded, Jonny and Rach arrived at the garden table with a candle lit cake for their erratic pater. It was a gesture which moved me to tears…… Waterworks consequential of the cake being a large peeled onion with a candle wedged atop.

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