I did initially decide to hide under my bed weeping for the year but luckily have been convinced a celebration of survival, friendship and family might be appropriate and would certainly involve more sparkling wine.
I had wonderful birthdays as a pre boarding school child. My mum and dad would organise amazing fancy dress parties with themed food and remarkable cakes. Once – when I was obsessed with The Arabian Nights – we had a party with Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Sheherezade (my own personal spelling) , Turkish delight, storytellers and pink and blue rice. My pal Sasha, dressed as Sinbad had a long wooden recorder attached to a huge stuffed snake in a man sized reed basket. He would play the recorder and gradually pull the string and therefore pull up the snake and we would all fall about with hysterics.
When I turned 30 there was a total eclipse of the sun. In Zambia, in the bush on dad’s hill, with a motley collective of marvellous friends and several tourists weighted down with binoculars, cameras and special glasses, we waited and sure enough at 3pm in the afternoon a huge eagle and flocks of birds suddenly flew towards us to roost and the sun was eaten. It was a mind blowing, terrifying, humbling three full minutes of unearthly shadows and the strangest silence and even the dogs stopped howling. As we gazed at the blackened sun with its flaming, exploding aura there was a slight coughing sound and then a man behind us started singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ Dad had chosen that very moment to light the candles of my melting birthday cake.
The sun came back (phew) and the euphoria carried us for weeks.
Tomorrow my big sister is preparing lovely food, my Mum and John will be over from France and the garden will be full of friends and family. In the evening those still standing will go to the pub.
All images (c) T. Bush and family