Yesterday was my 3oth birthday. I did nothing special – I didn’t even shower until about 4 o’clock. The night before, on a whim, I went to the cinema – alone – to see Skyfall. I sat in the dark with a hundred other people, coat in my lap, watching people pretend to beat and kill one another with a little bit of blatant product placement thrown in. On the way home after the movie, (11:54pm) I went to the supermarket and bought some squash, juice, milk and teabags – because everyone deserves to drink a cup of tea on their birthday. I rang in my 30th year in the self-service aisle of Tesco, picking up ‘unexpected items’ in the bagging area.
I rarely have birthday parties; my favourite was probably when I was 15, at boarding school – my dad broke character by breaking the rules(!) and bringing me a birthday cake and assorted contraband items – but I always try, where possible, to have the day off. I don’t have to do anything fancy (and in fact rarely do), but I insist on taking the day off to do whatever my heart desires. In my dreams, that desire is something spontaneous and exciting, like going to Rome or Vienna with only my wallet and a camera. Or splashing out on a £400 pair of shoes (not really, but you know). In reality, I often spend the day sleeping, faffing on the internet and emotionally eating. It’s nice.
And that’s what I did on my birthday. I had a lie-in, then an egg sandwich for breakfast. I got calls from family across two continents, I responded to lovely birthday messages on social media, I did some reading (currently Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue), I did laundry, I hoovered the flat, I listened to some truly ratchet hip hop on internet radio and sent off a couple of invoices. Then I had a little cathartic cry (not about the invoices), before finishing the hoovering. Then my sister came round, and I did the recycling. It wasn’t the most glamorous or dynamic start to my third decade but it was pretty solid, you know? My birthday prayer? Simple: that I always have the luxury of spending my birthday doing whatever the hell I want. Even if what I actually do is not very much at all.
As a further mark of my grownupness, I received only one card this year (a first, I think). Well I received a couple others, of sorts. The first is up above, as made by a very kind follower on Twitter – cheers, @DocHackenbush! The second is animated, as made by my friend Dan, and it has raised the bar on all future cards. Thank you, Dan. You are a gem, a gem with superb Photoshop and other DTP skills. This card made me clap my hands and giggle like a happy child:
I mean, it’s magnificent.
A happy birthday indeed.