I fully intended to politely gloss over my birthday this year – we’re more or less in quarantine with exam fever anyway – Cleo’s in the middle of A levels, Ella’s still away finishing hers at uni and I’m buried under piles of marking most evenings as my students’ course comes to an end, but thanks to Facebook you can’t even hide from your own birthday. And I’d also reckoned without two very secretive daughters and some fab friends. I’d arranged to go for a quiet drink with Vix after work, forgetting that that’s like arranging to go for a short stroll with the marines. Sure enough, I emerged blinking from my last class to find Vix installed in the college reception clad in a pink party dress winking conspiratorially at the security guys as she attempted to conceal herself behind a pot plant. “Happy Birthday!” she cried, leaping out brandishing two fizzing mini bottles of Prosecco, complete with raspberry striped straws.
Ten minutes later we were in a posh pizza place in Covent Garden where, right at the back of the restaurant I recognised a distinctive swishy ponytail at the balloon-bedecked table in front of me. Not only had Ella snuck down from Manchester for the night, but Cleo had abandoned her revision for the evening to join the party. Between them they’d organised the restaurant, the friends and the babysitting.
All I had to do was open the presents and beam for the pictures – which are probably on Facebook already – how does that happen again?