Three Score Years and Ten.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 27 March 2019

70, Seventy, Seven Tea, however you cut it 70 looks less like that and more like this. What with everything going on in the world; climate change, dolphins dying, bees buzzing off, what with everything we all have to deal with like early springs and unmitigated summers, hitting 70 seems more like a blessing than any kind of problem.

So the skin thins, and lines deepen. Hair greys and bending double aint as easy as it was last year, but what with everything else going on 70 seems more like a blessing than a shame.

Our next door neighbour drove me and him and the dawters Godma to the 18.12 train, and handed us a paper carrier bag with Champagne, Beer, crudites, chocolate and a tea cup and glass, we were sozzled by the time we reached Charing Cross. After two changes on the tube we reached Brixton by 7.00

One hundred people were invited to a surprise party. Some couldn't make it; driving, working, lying in hospital, celebrating elsewhere, so whilst the 40 sent their best wishes the other 60 turned up from all corners of the Cosmos. And I knew nothing about it. Not one thing. We were instructed to just wear fancy for Friday, cottage wear for Saturday and something for sleeping in. Well that was easy both me and him sleep in our birthday suits, so I took mine along to my birthday party. The 'oosbind knew nothing, The Godmother did, as did everybody else, they all lied to us. From friends in Kent to nephews in Belgium. They all lied through their teeth, and I'm so happy they did.

When I was allowed in under the shutters, I dropped my bag and eyeballed a room full of well-wishers, all brought together by my organisationally gifted daughter and her sibling team. It looked like an old Dutch oil paining, a huge canvas of people leaning forward, eyes gleaming, teeth bared, back lighting in a perfectly choreographed moment of love.

People from my early, middle and late past. There were more tears than a room full of babies waiting for their first feed. Hugging and wailing, squealing and weeping, after an evening of celebrations and greeting everybody that had bothered I blew out the candles on the dawters blueberry sponge with purple icing. I dropped birthday cake on my fancy patent leather boots and fell onto a bunch of balloons, my body so full of Prosecco and delight.

She had organised taxi's and food, timings and booze. We were shipped out to a fancy house in Stoke Newington. Nine of us sleeping from front room to attic amid a house full of cushions and bathrooms. The street lined with white and pink cherry blossom as impressive as Hanami in Japan, as beautiful as a Gozomatsu Tree painted by Hokisai, although he didn't paint Stoke Newington, he was the Mount Fuji geezer who painted 'The Wave' that hangs in every alternative practitioners surgery from here to Kyoto.

Whilst everybody settled into their new bedrooms I looked at my telephone, texts and stuff and the time. It was 2.20a.m. The exact time of my birth. I figured my mother was flapping around the room enjoying the event.

Gifts and cards and an abundance of memories. Blissful exhaustion. Face cracked from smiling. We lazed around most of Saturday then a car took us to the dawters pub where we mingled with the locals, nibbled on dry roasted nuts and then drove back to the Cherry Blossom house. The dawter made her pasta and eleven of us sat round a table for six on garden benches and bean bags we laughed so hard veins strained and bladders spilled. Then, when the sun came up, I prepared breakfast for 2 vegans, and 8 omnivores.

Those that left for America and Sweden missed out on delicious mushrooms, and the best scrambled eggs this side of Bill Grangers caff in Sydney, those that left for the West Country and Wales, missed out on delicious smoked salmon, cream cheese and bagels, those that left for Wiltshire and Herefordshire missed out on the tidying up. The gathering together of all our things, plumping the cushions, dishes in the washer, chairs back in their place, the alarm set, 30 seconds wait, then the key hidden behind the dustbins, and we were gone.

Then another taxi took me and him and her and her Godma to London bridge with our bags of gifts and booze, flowers and ribbons. 15.34 on time took us to Tunbridge Wells where our next door neighbour turned up to take us home. More flowers and bottles of mirth planted outside the door, as the old git lost his key down the inside of his jacket and we had to use the spare key hidden where nobody can ever remember.

And then the unpacking, the cards put in a bag and the presents put in their rightful place, Tulips in one jug, Lilies in another, Daffodils on the table and a pink Primula left as a gift, a huge bunch of Roses that had been sent from America put in our cracked wedding vase and placed in front of the fireplace, a box of bulbs to plant, sent from Devon and from an artist cousin in Sussex, a hand penned picture of me to frame that makes me look like I'm 28 not the old crone I am.

It feels utterly indulgent to even write about this, ridiculously self absorbed, but normality will return and I will become my old Ashkenazy self, all doom, gloom and culturally obsessed. The dawter will go back to her normal life, the 'oosbind will start to mend things and prune, and I will start my 71st year with a spring in my step, although after all that Prosecco, my spring is more of a slump and my step more of a limp.

But I am alive and flattered, and reminded that when I die all the ones, still alive, will turn up for a shindig, a booze up and a communal hug completed by a ridiculously wild celebration of life.

What a way to go.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At March 27, 2019 3:48 PM June wrote:

Belated happy birthday Jeni.
A weekend full of love and joy.
Thank you for sharing with us.
In a world that at times feels unjust and cruel we have these cracks of pure joy.
As Leonard Cohen said where there is a crack the light can shine through (quoted slightly better than that!)
Sent with love
June xx

2. At April 1, 2019 12:51 PM Laz wrote:

Mazel tov Jeni dear! Are you actually 70 as you really dont look it!
I wish you many happy and healthy years to come! May all your wishes come true.
All my love and kisses xxx

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