“It will be just like all the others “ said my son cheerily “ won’t it ? I mean, the figure doesn’t change anything ? “ “Yes” I agreed “ all just figures except for 40. At 40 I loved your father, I had you, a dog and work I loved, bien dans la peau: 40 was my 21st.”
Although habits exist principally to be broken, I like order in the morning so I get up, drink two big glasses of water, pull on old soft clothes, spray my face with mineral water and walk up the road for two papers. Then home to fruit, yogurt and coffee. Unplanned habit: I have three lumps of sugar a day – two in the first cup of coffee and one in the second. No more sugar, no more coffee. I do the simplest crosswords, and sometimes read the obituaries but often the birthdays and today I did because it was mine.
Sharing a birthday with Marlon Brando got me through being teased about my nose .And Doris Day is now 92. I hope she has friends and someone to talk to. I watched an 87 year old on the news recently saying she has family and visitors but she still gets lonely. Loneliness is as unmentionable as cancer once was but negotiating with it must come down to inner resource. As long as my eyes are spared and I can read, I shall never be lonely. I have books. Waiting for the world to happen to you is a waste of time . Better to weed or deadhead the garden, take up embroidery, fretwork, sculpture – anything. When time hangs heavy, we all want to be rescued and we rarely are. We have to rescue ourselves.
This year I noticed that I shared a birthday with bellicose Alec Baldwin, a good actor inclined to embonpoint. I wonder if the two are related – that he gets more furious as he gets fatter ? Quite simply, if he were an actress looking as if he were a sausage about to pop, he wouldn’t work. (Oh dear, I sound like the woman I knew who suffered with the menopause and made us all suffer with her, who used to sigh “Who’d be a woman ?” reducing my son and I to rude giggles. After all, who’d be a man ? ) But I do wonder about the double standard when I see male presenters with hair like boot polish why nobody suggests that, on that salary, tactful and becoming hair colour is not only more becoming, it’s an investment ? You’re worth it.
The person I am proudest to share a birthday with is Jane Goodall whose research into chimpanzees (Gombe Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania), and from wanting to protect them into a life’s work of better relationships for all of us, is truly awe inspiring – like the colours of the sun on the water or certain pieces of music. I only ever saw her once and made a gesture towards her which she emphatically cancelled so she is either very private and shy or one of the people who can’t stand me. It is good to face up to the existence of the latter. It keeps you, as they say, grounded.
Michael Burleigh is a historian I haven’t read but he’s on my booklist and maybe I’ll get to him this year. It has taken me so long to get to The Second World War and that I am doing it in the year we mark the centenary of the First has a fearsome symmetry about it.
It’s singer Tony Orlando’s birthday, he of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” fame. I lived briefly with his manager and once at some do, I sat down smack in a perfect pratfall. When it was inferred that I was drunk, I got up and did it again. I t can’t have helped my back.
I’d rather remember Sally Thomsett for The Railway Children rather than anything else, just as I prefer Eddie Murphy as the donkey in Shrek – he’s very clever, I just don’t want to have to see him.
Wherever Tony Benn is now, I bet he’s as thoughtful and forthright as he was in life – the only major political figure who didn’t hesitate to admit to getting things wrong (and explain why).
I know very little about astrology except that it isn’t just a matter of being born under a sign – the rising sign and the sign your moon is in must also be taken into consideration. This is very important to me because I have just learned that I am sharing a birthday with Nigel Farage and I can assure you, that’s all we share !