Enjoy your special day! the tacky birthday card reads. Today it’s all about YOU! Yes it is. It’s my birthday so it has to be a special day. The sun will shine, birds will chirp from a reasonable hour (and not at bloody 5am) and everyone I meet will smile and congratulate me on making it this far, especially considering the amount of liquor I’ve consumed over the years. Hurrah for my SPECIAL DAY!
This year, I decided to make my birthday an extra special one. Let’s go camping! By a beautiful sandy beach! Near an enchanted castle! I had visions of sunny beach picnics, romantic country walks, and cosy pubs in which to drink my arse off.
The day had started well – it was only raining gently and the wind battering the tent wasn’t quite up to gale force. So far so good. However, the beach trip was off. Mainly because the ‘beautiful sandy cove’ the campsite blurb promised was in fact a tiny sliver of grimy, seaweed-littered grit, sat at the bottom of a 500ft sheer cliff. Never mind! I’ll take a stroll through the beautiful countryside to the enchanted castle.
On the way I chanced upon that most elusive of woodland creatures – the magical badger! I’d never seen one close up before, what a treat. Rather less magical was the fact that it had been dead for a week, and was now host to an orgy of wiggling maggots. Reeling from the stench, I decided that the romantic picnic would keep for another time.
Never mind, on to the enchanted castle! Well, after another five mile walk in the wind and freezing rain. It was not the mystical experience I’d hoped for. I would also have to share my birthday treat with a group of 2,000 Russian exchange students, who jostled their way up the slippery stone steps and stopped to take selfies every five seconds.
Did I mention the steps? There were 10,000 of them. I’m not exaggerating. The enchanted castle blurb didn’t mention that. I finally reached the top step, wheezing and puking and not feeling remotely special. I wiped the rain/sweat/tears from my eyes and prepared to be amazed.
Oh. The enchanted castle was no longer an enchanted castle as such, more an enchanted pile of rubble. However, there was a very helpful sign explaining what it probably looked like in medieval times, but to be fair it was built on top of a remote windy cliff what the fuck do you expect.
Oh well, at least the village at the bottom of the cliff had some cosy pubs in which to drown my sorrows (and erase the lingering aroma of rotting badger from my nostrils).
Battling wind, rain, 10,000 steps and 2,000 Russian exchange students, I puffed my way down to the village and stumbled into the nearest hostelry. Finally my special day could begin in earnest. As a treat, I ordered the evening special – Summer Risotto! No stodgy fish and chip supper for me, wasn’t it nice that the chef was branching out from the usual pub grub slop.
In hindsight, I should have ordered the usual pub grub slop. The chef, pushing his skills way beyond Jamie’s Italian Cookbook, had produced a risotto, but the main ingredients appeared to be wallpaper paste and twigs.
Oh well, if nothing else I could post a hilarious photo on Instagram so all my friends (of which I have several) could post chippy comments to cheer me up. However, on inspection of my Instagram feed I noticed that my Former Love Interest (well, I was interested) had posted a bunch of snaps of him and his beautiful, slim, stupidyhead new girlfriend having a lovely champagne picnic on the beach. Wait a minute. It was MY birthday and they were having a better day than me?? They got sunshine, champers, and sexy fun in the sand dunes while I got hypothermia, a maggoty badger, and wallpaper paste.
Special day, my wind-chapped arse.
So anyway, I’ve been thinking about Christmas…