(**Update**. I am aware that so many people are spending birthdays alone today, or worse still, in hospital. This post is not meant to suggest that either Julie or I are badly off, in any way.)
Most of us feel something different about birthdays that announce a new decade. Whether it is 30, 40, 50, or even 80, there is undeniably something special about them. When you are 20, you are no longer a teenager, and if you see your 90th year, you are doing pretty well even in this day and age.
My wife Julie is 60 today. Bad enough having a January birthday in winter weather and so soon after Christmas in any year. But in one of the worst periods in living memory, a lockdown birthday when you have to go to work puts the tin hat on it.
When I was 50, Julie treated me to a long weekend in Rome. It was mid-March, and we enjoyed exceptionally warm weather. When she was 50, I took her to Prague to celebrate. Cold but dry, and very interesting. A couple of years ago, we started to plan where to go for Julie’s 60th. A few days in a place neither of us had ever been. Perhaps Valetta in Malta, or Gibraltar. Our neighbour kindly offered to take care of Ollie in our absence. Our plan was to book that holiday in January 2020, a year in advance.
Well, we all know what happened.
On the 26th of December, the second lockdown arrived. I couldn’t take her into Norwich to choose her special gift from the jeweller’s shop, as it is non-essential. And the restaurant where we had hoped to celebrate can only supply a takeaway meal. The one we had chosen doesn’t offer that option.
That leaves Julie celebrating her big Six-O with no gift from me, and an Indian takeaway that we could have any other night of the week. And she has had to go into work. As she works for the NHS in a local doctor’s, it would have seemed rather lame to request holiday leave because it is her birthday.
And just to remind us that we live in Beetley, and it is January, it has been raining solidly for 24 hours.
Happy Birthday, Julie.