A lovely work colleague mentioned the other day that she was celebrating her 50th birthday at the end of this month.
'Oooh,' said I. 'Have you got anything special planned? I'm 50 at the beginning of November and I'm looking for ideas.'
'Well,' said Lovely Work Colleague, 'firstly, some friends are taking me to posh tea at the Ritz in London.'
'Lovely,' said I. 'Posh tea sounds good. Most refined and genteel.'
'Then,' said Lovely Work Colleague, 'I'm taking a group of 30 friends on a coach up North to see Newcastle United play. I think I may have persuaded Peter Beardsley to say 'hello' to us all.'
Crumbs, I thought. Thirty friends? THIRTY?! At this point I began to realise how insular my life has been. I don't have 30 friends, well, not in the manner of friends I'd load onto a coach and travel all the way to Newcastle with to watch a football match and top it off with a visit from celebrity footballer player chap.
'And then we're all going to my favourite restaurant in Newcastle for a celebration dinner,' said Lovely Work Colleague. (Lovely Work Colleague is a Geordie, by the way. Her plans for Newcastle are not a random whim.)
And I am still thinking, 'Thirty friends? THIRTY??' But I am not surprised Lovely Work Colleague has so many close friends. She is lovely.
'Wow!' said I.
'And then...' said Lovely Work Colleague, 'I am having lunch with Santa Montefiore.'
I am gob-smacked at this point. 'Santa Montefiore the famous author?' I said.
'Yes,' said Lovely Work Colleague. 'She's my favourite. She's taking me for lunch in Kensington. I e-mailed her about a year ago to say how much I love her books and we've sort of been swapping emails ever since.I'm very excited!'
Sort of swapping emails?? Going for a birthday lunch in Kensington??? With Santa Montefiore???? Well!!!
'You've got this all very well planned,' I said, my admiration undisguised.
'Well,' said Lovely Work Colleague, 'I did bugger all for my fortieth. I wasn't going to let this one pass me by without making something special of it. What are you gong to do for yours?'
As Andy said later on when I told him this story, 'That'll be cake at Dobbies Garden Centre, Maidstone United at the Gallagher stadium and dinner at Cafe Rouge, then?' And not a whiff of an author in sight. Not even for a veggie burger lunch at the only veggie eatery in Maidstone (closes at 5.30 so would have to be a lunch date.)
I am going to have to give this some serious thought. It is going to be a tricky one, once I have accommodated my unadventurous, unambitious, introverted nature. Go on - ask me what I did at the weekend...I'll tell you - I read and sewed. And loved every minute of it.
Definitely no birthday football, though. Too noisy. Too crowded. Too spitty. Probably not a party (ditto too crowded and noisy but probably not so much spit - my family and friends are generally well-behaved.) Foreign holiday? Nope. Never had the wanderlust. Bit of theatre maybe? Possibility. I like a bit of theatre.
I don't know. Maybe I'll just let it slip by with a bunch of flowers and a bit of cake.