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The reason I was making a particularly big fuss over my birthday this year is because I’ve managed to make it to 40. Now I know many people would not be gloating and lording this achievement over other people, but what with my health being a bit… shall we say tentative, I felt it was an accomplishment worthy of note.

Before I even left the UK, I had emailed and messaged my family back home, indicating that a fuss would be required. As ever, I had wild fantasies about all of us dressing up as Birds of Paradise and parading around the neighbourhood (In my defense, I’ve been watching a lot of Attenborough of late). I informed The Mom that all we’d need were some black tutus and deenyboppers for our heads. I felt certain all this could be had at the mall (and, though in the event none of this happened, when The Mom questioned my faith in the mall, we wound up going and lo and behold, the old K-Mart had become some kind of Halloween costume extravaganza).

The Mom, as usual, took my missives in her stride and largely ignored them. The costume-related ones at least.

When I arrived at home, I was eagerly anticipating my final birthday celebration. As the child of divorced parents, I long ago learned the ways and means by which one can prolong any holiday or similar celebratory situation. I’d begun in May, taken a short hiatus, and then recommenced with vigour in July.

I celebrated in London, then in Toronto, and so when I rocked up to The Mom’s I was expected to be feted. Unfortunately, my family, lovely though they are, are a wee bit on the disorganised side of disorganised, and I blame The Mom almost entirely for this.

She doesn’t do it on purpose, let it be said. And she does make every effort. However, the effect isn’t always what she’d like. Thing is, she’ll tell one of us to tell the others to do a thing. Sometimes we will pass along this request, but usually it gets a bit garbled. It remains deeply unclear why The Mom won’t just issue commands to the relevant person(s) and be done with it. This, I believe, stems from her reasoning that we are all of us in constant text-message based communication, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

She believes that Crazy D will reply to a text message, wherever he is, whatever he’s up to. L’il Sis and I can attest to the fact that this is not the case. He might read the message but be unable to reply. He might miss the message. He might think he’s replied but not have actually done so. Whatever the reason, once can wait upwards of months for a reply, and upon receiving the missive, not remember what the question was in the first place.

Thus, I spent a bit of time trying to convince The Mom to just start issuing her own edicts to all and sundry. Which she immediately decided was a giant pain in the ass and therefore not happening.

So, when it came to my final weekend in Canada, I amped up my sulking and she duly cowed. She invited her Man, and the Neighbours, and I was left to invite L’il Sis and Crazy D.

At no point in time did The Mom tell me to tell Crazy D that as well as cooking the burgers, he would be in charge of making them.

“I assumed he would know this,” The Mom said, when interrogated later.

“Ass, you, me,” I replied.


“Hang on a second there Skippy. It doesn’t count as a fuck-up if you did not inform him specifically of all required duties. If you do not give a full brief, do not expect the results you wanted.”

The Mom sulked and looked at the parakeet for back up. The parakeet kicked seeds from her bucket onto the floor.

The Mom may have taken this as a sign, but either way, things moved onwards.

In the event, we had a lovely time. People came over. Funny stories were told. There wasn’t too much shouting or swearing, and everyone got a slice of pie.

L’il Sis ended the evening by apologising for having forgotten to bring over the card she’d got me.

“I’ll mail it to you. It’ll be better that way,” she said.

And it will because that means I can continue celebrating myself, here, back in the UK.