Well, the closest Saturday to my birthday came around again.
Friends from work, Chester, back home in Newton Heath, travelling and the walking group, all turned out to wish me well.
Bellow is the superb Star Trek picture I received as a gift from Gaz, one of my old friends from Newton Heath who attended with Nick (who also bought me a superb present, a lighter).
I’d spent the previous 10 days, prepping the house completely, stocking the cupboards and wine rack, and installing a laminated floor, in anticipation of my guests.
Well, sort off. The event was a pub crawl, but I reasoned that at some point, loads of people would end up in my house.
As it was, there were 4 people for 10 minutes (but the house is sorted, so it was worth the effort).
The Friday evening before, I’m relaxing at home, watching old episodes of Battlestar Galactic (the modern opera type one, not the earlier camp one, with the robot dog called Moffet !). I receive a visit from my friend Tony Griffin (who was involved in the laminate floor).
Turns out, that his Daughter’s birthday party is on the same day as mine, so he wont be able to attend. He’s comes over and asks me if I want to go out for the evening. What can I say, its been a long week, and its time to start having fun.
We end up at the Forest house, 15 and finally the Marlborough arms, where this band entertain us late into the night.
In the morning, I start my birthday year, as I usually do, with scrambled eggs.
Its a long story, but my mum was never very good at cooking (my Grandma had offered to show her many times, but mum was committed to a career and life as a nurse, and had no time for distractions).
Hard to believe now, but in times gone by, if you were in hospital, and didn’t eat your meal, you could ask the nurses to cook you scrambled eggs or cheese on toast. Ironically, mum became expert at cooking these things, as they fitted within the remit of her work as a nurse.
Every year on my birthday, mum would cook scrambled eggs on toast just for me. In the years when I moved away and after she passed away, I’ve continued the tradition.
I head out for the day. I’ve decided to wear cords, a Rohan jumper and just for a change, carry a courier bag, rather than a daysack.
Within minutes I realise the scrambled eggs have left their mark on my jumper. After a few minutes of deliberation, I decide to go out as I am.
Its me after all, if I start turning up immaculate and letting other people speak, they will think my body has been taken over by aliens.
First stop, Chester train station, where I collect the Newton Heath and Phonak contingents, who I take to the Mill hotel. The pub quickly fills with friends, and then its off to the first venue of the day, the Lock Keeper.
Once there, I’m delighted to find an old friend Jon Knight, who I haven’t seen in ages. His wife Emma recently had a baby, and he’s made a special effort to come out, which I really appreciate.
Next up, Lee & Susan, my boss Tim and his lovely wife Lindsay (and she is lovely, I’m not just saying that because he’s the boss). Dan, Ralph & Aud and a few people from the walking group complete the scene.
A few young people (who despite my request, the landlord refuses to ask to leave, “I cant throw people out of the pub, just because their younger than you John. Are you 44 or 4 ?” comes his reply) are dressed in some kind of golfing clothing.
Lyndsay and Sean (both former “uni” people) explain that they are playing some sort of Pub golf, where the holes are pubs, and there are things like water traps, where you can’t go to the toilet.
As the ale starts to flow, the conversation gets going. The sad thing about this sort of thing is no matter how I try, I never get enough time to spend with everyone. I made a point of chatting to Dave and Jennifer, who I havent seen since my last birthday.
I pop over and find my boss (who can make friends with anyone), is engrossed in conversation with the Newton Heath crew. For reasons I cant remember, I was explaining about the time I had a graphite pool queue. I was trying to learn to play the game, so thought I would give myself the best possible chance of success, by buying (at no small expense) the best queue I could get.
The joke of course, was as soon as you were playing a stranger, and you produced this queue, all at the table went silent, waiting to see some feat of billiards, with the awe of a religious experience.
When this didn’t happen, and the balls bounced around like a pinball game, they usually erupted into laughter (no surprise that I gave the queue away and gave up pool).
We leave the Lock Keeper, and make for the Malborourough arms. Its literally spelt that way, as the result of a sign painting mistake some years ago.
Liverpool were playing, so the japery came to a halt for 90 minutes, as everyone watched the match.
Sadly Liverpool didn’t win. It was a tragedy for me, not because I support them, but because most of the people in the pub seemed to, and it brought the mood down a bit.
We got back to the task of having a good time, with 2 of my female friends from the walking group, encountering these 2 folicaly challenged hangers on (not to be confused with Brian at the back, a stalwart of the group).
At this point, some of my guests who’d travelled a distance, made for home. The rest of us went to the Bear and Billet, after a regrettable trip to Hickory’s (food will be a 2 hr wait !. As Tony would say, your having a Turkish aren’t you ?).
Heading back to the Mill, for a last drink, I get the guests who are sleeping over at my house, setup for the night then head out for a curry, which the lovely Brenda buys me as a Birthday present.
The day complete, I head home, relax and drift off to sleep. Another year older, and another fantastic birthday.
Thanks to everyone who came and made it even more special than usual. John