A 90th birthday celebration
I suppose these sorts of occasion will become more common as time goes on. We are all living longer and healthier lives. This is our second 90th in the family. Uncle Wilf. He was second eldest of my dad’s family – dad was the youngest. Wilf is the sole remaining member. My dad (Ray) would have loved to have been there. He just loved events with loads of people there! So we felt even more obliged to make the effort.
We arrived to the usual mess of cars in a cul de sac. You just hope some of the neighbours have been invited so that you feel far less embarrassed about your parking! And then the polite ringing of the door bell, standing in the cold and wet, with other guests swelling your numbers…until you realise no bugger is coming, because the door is open and unlocked…
We know Uncle Wilf as Wilf. Half of the guests know him as Charlie – which is what he was when in The Fleet Air Arm (which is the part of the Royal Navy that has aeroplanes – for aircraft carriers etc.). And the children of children call him granddad, gramps and other versions. This made the first Happy Birthday invocation a rather haphazard affair after the word “Dear…” in line three. A cacophony of blurred names made it sound like we were singing for many birthdays, or politely covering up that we had forgotten who this was for…
Food. Yes there was food. Loads of it. Wilf was chief meat buyer for Birds Eye Frozen Food – after qualifying as a Master Butcher from Apprentice (Doesn’t that sound wonderfully old fashioned now? I think maybe we should revisit this, and stop calling it Modern Apprenticeships…it could still work). Uncle Wilf asked me to make sure the chicken legs were heated properly. I realised this had been his preparation input, so wanted them to have pride of place. It was a pretty full on buffet – 46 guests in a through lounged 1960’s 3 bed-roomed house. The chicken legs went first, but the pate was a close second. The hardest thing was getting anywhere near the table. We did have to go in polite bunches. It was rather like one of those old plastic kids games with 8 letters in the 9 spaces. You really had to work hard at saying sorry a lot.
An old fashioned cul de sac. 10 of the 26 households have been there since the houses were built. Isn’t that amazing?
Wilf (Charlie) loved it. It was quite a special occasion. Fitting, really.