Malvern is full of character(s).
This morning, while buying pasties in Malvern, my parents were witness to a gentleman uttering the phrase, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak American; I’m a Welshman on St George’s Day.” What did he mean by that you ask? None of us have any bloody idea whatsoever. But he certainly wasn’t impressed that they couldn’t heat his pasty of choice for him. No siree. On St George’s Day of all days. Poor bloke.
Another man with a thing of note on St George’s Day is my lovely dad. He is not Welsh, granted, but it is his birthday so we’ll let him off. Just this once. He and my Mum went into town this morning for coffee after dropping Ben at work, while I woke up feeling slightly knocked for six for some reason. Probably yesterday catching up to me. I’ve spent most of the day feeling somewhat ‘off’.
After opening his present from me and my brothers – a set of rather cool espresso cups and saucers – Mum and I had a delightful time doing the weekly shop. Oh such fun to be had in Morrisons. My favourite part was the other people…you know, the way they stop in the middle of the aisle and shout at each other “we’ll just stand here”, or the way they always try and shove past you to get to just the thing you’re looking at. I love that.
Later in the afternoon after playing some cards, with Dad teaching us the correct way to deal for Blackjack, we decided it was time for cake. Yesterday I spent a good part of the evening slaving away in the kitchen, filling the air with flour and icing sugar and ground ginger to make a honey and ginger cake with buttercream filling and a ginger and cinnamon icing. Mmm.
Or so you’d think.
Although I didn’t know it until Dad cut into it this afternoon. Absolute and total disaster. The thing wasn’t cooked. Except I had it in the oven for the length of time specified, at a higher temperature specified and when I did the knife test (repeatedly) the knife came out clean every time. And when I turned them out of the tins they looked light and soft and lovely. So I just couldn’t understand how this soggy lump on the plate could possibly be the cake I had worked so hard on. It was, at the least, very disappointing. And I felt terrible!
Maybe you think that’s silly, to feel bad about it. But these things matter. At least, they matter to me. It’s my dad’s birthday and I tried to make an effort by baking him a nice cake. Stupidly I went for something different when I’d probably have been better off sticking to my standard recipe. And when it all went wrong, I just felt horrible. Like I’d let him down, and everyone else along the way. It’s not even about the fact that my cake went wrong. Because it’s nothing at all to do with me. I felt dreadful because I wanted it to be right, for my dad. You see, he’s basically the loveliest dad a girl could wish for, so I wanted to do something nice and make him feel special and loved and worth making the effort for. Because he is. And it all went tits up.
I think Mum realised I was a bit upset by it all, because she dragged me off to Waitrose to buy a replacement so that he would still have a cake. We plumped for a kids cake, “Bob the Dog” in the end. Which is every bit as brilliant as it sounds. It made Dad smile anyway, and that’s what counts.
I’ve always liked celebrating other people’s birthday’s actually. I enjoy the process of making it a nice day, just for them. I love giving presents; I get genuinely excited about finding the right thing, wrapping it and handing it over. I love cards as well, I always find it really hard to choose which card to give someone because I usually end up with a handful of perfect ones. And if I have the chance, I like to bake a cake for someone. You know, without it all going drastically wrong. When the cake works properly, and it looks all pretty, I like doing that. Whereas when it comes to my own birthday, I’d be happy with a cup of tea and the chance to ride a horse.
This evening we went for a family meal at a rather nice Indian restaurant in town. We haven’t been out as a whole family for quite some time, so it was nice to have the five of us together. And even nicer when plates of Aloo-Saag-Channa, Vegetable Bhuna and Paneer Massala began arriving at the table. Delicious stuff.
Two glasses of wine and a rather flavoursome plateful later, and I was just about done. I had so many different flavours going on, it was like a party in my mouth and every spice was invited. Amazing! The peshwari naan was to die for and the fried rice was just perfect. Oh the glory of well cooked food. Beautiful. I also managed to convince a waiter to take a photo of the five of us towards the end. My family all looked at me slightly askance when I mentioned it, but I reminded them that we haven’t had a photo of all of us since my parents got married in 2009. Nearly five years ago to the day. Which is a bit mental really given that we mostly live in the same house still. So I wanted to get a picture, even if we didn’t all look perfect, just to have proof that we are a real family!
The waiter seemed a bit nervous but my encouragement of “Literally, just point and click” seemed to work. Bless. After posing awkwardly we set to work on the chocolate mints and little bowls of liquorice comfits that had been brought over. I like liquorice.
Oh and the biggest and most important shocker of them all? I wore heels tonight. Yup, actual shoes with high heels. And, I kept them on all night, didn’t fall over or even stumble once. My feet didn’t hurt or anything. Remarkable really. I actually wore nice clothes this evening in an attempt to pull myself out of “horse mode” and into the category of actual woman. Heels, jewellery, make-up and a lace jacket. Yessir, I almost looked feminine. Although I’ve realised that I find earrings weird. I put some in and then looked at myself in the mirror and began to question the point of them. “It’s just strange to have things dangling from your ears…they’re out in space, there’s nothing else going on, what’s the appeal? They’re not even comfy. Earrings are so weird.” Needless to say, I did not actually wear any in the end. My mind became too befuddled and I couldn’t cope with the concept.
By far the most exciting part of the night was being party to Mum trying to park Dad’s car when we got home. It wasn’t too bad until we’d been going forwards and backwards for a little while and Ben turned to me and muttered “Where are we actually going?” at which point I broke down into uncontrollable giggles. I had tears streaming down my cheeks and despite trying to stay silent so that Mum wouldn’t notice, she noticed and ended up laughing so much that she almost couldn’t drive anyway.
I enjoyed spending that time with my family, it was a good night. We all get on so well these days that the conversation was both ridiculous and hilarious. Being a family of adults is nice too, as we don’t have to worry about anything. Although given that everyone still seems to think I’m only sixteen wherever I go, buying alcohol is always a risky business in my life. Dad seemed to have a good time though, and that’s what it was all about. Giving him a lovely birthday. Because he’s a very lovely man. I know there’s the whole weird thing about girls marrying their fathers, but I can safely say that if I end up with someone even half as wonderful as my dad then I’ll be a very lucky woman indeed.
There we are, the motley crew that is my family. What a treat for you all!