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Breaking my birthday rule

Happy birthday to me, and to all the people I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post from exactly two years ago.

This year I am breaking my birthday rule, the one that states that you should have a party whenever the day falls on a Saturday. I thought about it but couldn’t be bothered to organize anything. Many of the people I would like to celebrate with are many miles away: my brother in Spain, my favourite cousins in Ireland, a mate who moved to Hong Kong last year, good friends in Melbourne Australia and Christchurch New Zealand. If any or all of them were around, we would have some kind of get-together.

Instead, I haven’t planned much and am taking it easy, typing these words just after 10am. There is an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” in the background. My wife and daughter started working their way through every series of the show on Netflix during the summer holidays and are near the end of series 8.

The main thing I want today is a Leeds United victory in the lunch-time kick-off from Elland Road. I hope that the home game against Derby County will occupy my time between 12.30pm and 2.30pm and then the four of us will stroll down to the Argentine Steak House that has become a regular venue for birthday meals during the last two years.  The weather is due to be sunny, reaching highs of 25 degrees Celsius. Maybe we’ll take advantage of that, and our membership of Kew Gardens, and take a stroll around the Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon. If my son has his way, we will probably stop off at a pub or two and be home in time for “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Leeds currently sit top of the Championship, and as in many pieces over the last nine months I offer this screenshot from the BBC website as evidence.


Unless Leeds lose by 2 or more goals (as they did in the play-off second leg back in May) they will still be top at 3pm but I am hoping for more, a victory to ensure that the team are still top on Monday morning.

Monday is my brother’s birthday. It’s a big one, a number ending in zero. He had big plans for this year, a party arranged for last weekend with family and friends from across the UK and Ireland all flying in for it. Unfortunately, his part of Spain was hit by storms and flooding and the whole thing was cancelled. Even his children were unable to get there from their homes in Madrid and Barcelona.

My wife, children and I were in Spain last month, getting the party started early, and I didn’t feel able to get back this month during term-time. I woke up this time last week wondering if I should have made more of an effort to go, before we’d heard how bad things were. Instead of the planned celebrations my brother and his wife spent the weekend shovelling mud and trying to minimize the damage from floodwater. The local river had burst its banks. Six people in the local area died over the weekend. Fortunately, he, his family and all of his friends are safe.

The events in Spain last weekend have made it easier for me to answer questions about what I was doing for my birthday. When asked, earlier in the week, I was able to say, “Well, my brother had big plans for his birthday, and look what happened”. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you’d planned.



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