Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Fifty and Counting

Welcome to a 50th birthday celebratory blog posting written by me, using my trusty old stylus and an iPad. Extraordinary as it may seem I have made it to 50. There have been a number of occasions over the last fifteen or so years when that achievement had seemed a trifle optimistic and so it was with some relief that the 13th of July arrived without the accompanying sound of sirens and the flashing of blue lights. In fact the bulk of the day passed uneventfully what with the children at school and Polly having an appointment at the hairdressers. I had been told that my mother-in-law, Pam, had booked a table at a local Harvester and that we were all going out for a meal that evening. I was a little suspicious of this because Polly had put out socks for me to wear and so I suspected we were going somewhere slightly more upmarket, Pizza Express perhaps.

As we turned off Wimbledon Park Side I had an inkling that we were heading upmarket of even Pizza Express and that our destination was Cannizarro House, the hotel where Polly and I had spent the first night of our honeymoon nearly 18 years ago. On that occasion our little red self-drive hired van had squeezed between S class Mercedes and Porches to take pride of place opposite of the main entrance. This time our VW Caddy looked slightly less incongruous but I was grateful Polly had had the car cleaned recently. She apologised for the deceit and hoped I wasn't too disappointed that I would not be availing myself of an all you can eat salad bar. In fact, she explained, we were meeting Pam here for a drink and then she would take the boys on for a burger leaving us to have a cosy, intimate meal for two. (Polly and me that is, not Pam and me. That would be weird under the circumstances.)

On entering the hotel we were led by a member of staff away from the main dining room and through a private dining room laid out for a large private do and on to a patio overlooking the park. It was at that exact moment that I realised I had been throughly suckered for there before me was my entire family. My mother, whom I'd been told I would be seeing next week, was there. My brothers were there and both my aunts were there. All my nephews were there. Most surprisingly my sister Helena was there when she really should have been in Texas. She, Andrew and her two boys had all flown in especially.

We were served canap├ęs on the patio and then retired to our dining room where we were served a pork and cherry pate followed by cannon of Romney Marsh lamb. We finished up with a chocolate birthday cake (with 5 symbolic candles) and petit fours. By the time coffee was served I was sated. It was a fabulous evening and I greatly appreciate the effort that was made on my behalf.

Oh, and in case you are interested, among my gifts I received the promise of a new flat screen TV and a genuine little apple tree already growing apples.

On Saturday Polly arranged a drop in birthday and house warming party. She had cooked enough chilli to feed an army laying siege to the Alamo, a greenhouse full of salad, a gallon or so of Pimms and three huge cakes. I sincerely hoped people would turn up or my choice of meals was going to be somewhat limited in the forseeable future. Thankfully people did come, many bringing plants for the garden including, to my delight, an ornamental Japanese tree, an Olive tree and a vine. We made my friends Paul and Harvey plant the trees because they were dressed in kilts and it was therefore both funny and useful.

I had a great 50th birthday. Thank you so much everyone who made it special.

Next we are off on holiday. Not to Wales and the rain but to Cypress and the Mediterranean sunshine. All we need to do is to get from Carshalton to Polis via Gatwick and Paphos with two children, my mother-in-law, a large electric wheelchair and enough medical equipment for a small respiratory ward. What could possibly stand between me and a relaxing holiday? I will let you know.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Congratulations Stephen! Fifty years old! It doesn't really seem possible, but then I'm sure there are times when you feel much older than that, what with all your problems. Glad to know you had such a great day.

    Well and truly suckered indeed! And what a lovely way for it to happen. It just goes to show how much your family think of you, that they went to so much trouble to arrange it all and be there. These days so many families are not only "not together" because they've gone their separate ways, they actually don't care for each other.

    I would love to be there at Gatwick to see the expression on the ailine staff when you & Poly turn up wih all the assembled equipment!

    DO let us know what transpires - I'm sure it will make wonderful reading. Oh! And enjoy the holiday as well. :-)

  2. And we had a lovely time on Saturday. I am glad you did. I will happily come round in my kilt again and do some more planting if it is that funny. In the mean time the British weather is being kind to all those green presents with enough rain to avoid the need for the watering can - so Polly's prayers are clearly being answered.
    I wish you all a great trip and hope to see you soon on your return.

  3. tree-planting in kilts?? The mind boggles!

  4. I'm glad you had a great time and it was a shame that I couldn't get along to see my 'OLD' friend celebrate his half century.

    I'm also glad to see (read?) that you have blogged again. We have missed your louche musings, so I hope you give up the life of an erstwhile wordsmith and return from the Cypress experiment with a full and frank review..!

    Your public awaits...

  5. The Stewart family3 August 2011 at 10:14

    Well, we hope the sun is still shining in Polis and it was an honour to meet you and your family. I am sure the boys will hear from the girls before too long!

  6. I logged on to see what was happening as we hadn't heard from you. Delighted to hear you have a new house. Having more space must make a hell of a difference.

    It doesn't always rain in Pembrokeshire, but even so I'm willing to be the weather will be better in Cyprus. I hope you all have a great time.

    Best wishes to you all from Sophie and everyone else at Paul Sartori

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  9. Congrats on the big 50!

    Hell, reading this was like I wrote this myself, as a tetra wheelchair user of the ripe old age of 53! and injured at 16 I feel lucky to still be here every day I wake up, lifes getting a struggle but hey i'm still kicking lol.

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  10. Congratulations for turning into 50th well and sound and Happy 50th Birthday! Glad to see at such age you're enjoying life and blogging with us. You're my inspiration and so much enjoyed reading this wonderful blog post. Thanks.
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