I wasn’t dreading my 50th birthday, really I wasn’t: I haven’t been properly scared by much, ever, except the idea that Room 101 might be full of maggots, although I was once nearly sick with scaredyness as I was swung wildly to-and-fro in the top cradle of a ferris-wheel and I’d still rather crawl across broken glass than get on such a ride again.
The other thing I really, really don’t like are those big, leggy house-spiders – the sort that run out from under the sofa and straight at you, casting a hideous shadow all the way. Urgh. Other than that I’m a game old bird and as like as not to face up to most challenging situations with nary a curler out of place. I’ve certainly never before in my life dreaded something as inevitable as a birthday.
Indeed, the Big Three-Oh was welcomed with open (bingo-wing-free) arms and I must have had so much fun I can’t remember what I did. The Big Four-Oh held no fears for me either and (still bingo-wing-free) I had a huge party in our huge garden and enjoyed myself v. much. So naturally I wasn’t dreading the imminent Four-Nine at all, even though the bingo-wings have taken hold and most of my midriff looks like it’s being tackled on every other Thursday by a myopic Quilting-Bee. “Hah!” said I, “Bring it on, bring on the thick-middled dowdiness, for I am a happy woman, loved and cherished by my family!”
So it was that my birthday came to be. It started well, with fond birthday wishes from my beloved who made me some v. nice coffee and then rushed off excitedly to fetch my present from the shed in which it had been hidden from my gaze. Traa-Laa-Laa, Happy Birthday girl and all that.
Then Mr Smudd walked in carrying a big box wrapped in a thin blue plastic bag. “Here’s your present, my darling,” he said, “I’ve had it for ages and I chose it especially!”
I could see through the thin blue plastic bag. I could see what this box contained. I have never been so astonished in my life.
“I can see what it is,” I said. “I don’t believe my eyes, but I can see what you have got me”, I said.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” said he. Then he said “Ho-ho-ho-hoo-hoo-hoo-haaa-haaa-chortle-grunt-laugh-titter-choke-haa-haa-thunk-titter-snork-haa-ha-go-on-open-it!”
To be honest, I haven’t been as astonished by my husband’s choice of birthday presents since he gave me a finger-shredding kitchen mandolin, a cast-iron frying pan and a book on the criminally insane. I thought then that I should stand on the book, grate his neck down to its jugular with the mandolin and finally cave his skull in with a blow from the cast-iron pan. But I didn’t. Which is why he lived to give me this present.
And this plastic-bag-shrouded gift really took the biscuit.
It was a massive remote-controlled tarantula with a leg-span of 10”. According to the instructions it “walks, runs and spins”. It does all those things, very fast, while casting an impressive shadow.
I think no more needs be said on how my beloved husband chose to mark my 49th birthday.
And now I’m really, really, REALLY dreading my 50th.