The Big Cheese that I married in 1968 is approaching his 70th birthday. He celebrated his 69th in style at our home in Normandy, which seemed appropriate, and now it is the turn of his family and English friends to help him achieve the transition to septuagenarianism. That’s a lot of letters between s and m!
Charlotte and I have been plotting, resorting to subterfuge in the matter of making sure we have enough bubbles and wine on site at 88 Pep for the first phase of partying, not to mention food. So I have come back to Winterborne K to settle with Simon Pirie for the birthday chair and arrange for its delivery to Nick’s office whilst he is away in Surrey. I travel up to Godalming to find the Perryman hopes for a fully carpeted and furnished main floor in their house are being realised. Charlotte just wants to hang the curtains so a very tired young lady attempts to hook them under pelmet in the big room and manages to over-balance, crash to the floor on the step-ladder and fracture her wrist. This is a bit of a blow to say the least, however the glimmer of a silver lining is that she gains 2 days at home which she badly needs. (Her wrist is x-rayed and set by a very capable doctor at Royal Surrey A&E as a good fit is achieved and she needs no surgery which is a big plus).
Before the weekend is upon us I meet Vikky for lunch at the Thai garden which is a lovely meeting after almost a year. It is even longer since I saw my former PhD supervisor, Dan Bosence and his wife Alison Ellen. Alison designs wonderful knitwear and I take the opportunity to add a couple of items to my wardrobe. Nick has come back to England a couple of days after me, he drives to Godalming on Friday afternoon and together with Ryan it is all hands on deck to prepare for the arrival of the Light Clan. This, Nick believes, is the Surrey phase of his celebration. He does not know that four couples will be arriving for evening festivities, these being the Evans, Upcotts, Wattons and Thimonts. These are very significant others. Paul and Martine are the first to arrive and Nick is sent to answer the door. Paul tells us he is gobsmacked.
The Perrymans produce some wonderful food, smoked brisket, pulled smoked pork and ribs. Wine flows and Nick’s cup overflows. Our friends and our young chat away and the thank you letters we receive after tell us that it was felt to be a specially convivial evening. Throwing the party in our former family home, known to our guests, and which remains, in effect, the family home is something rather special.
The following day is Nick’s birthday. Before we all troop off to Bel and the Dragon for Sunday lunch we light and cut Lola’s birthday cake. We have a long table in the upper gallery at the restaurant, a former church with many features intact. “It’s time to leave the party, honey. All good things must end. We’ve had a lovely visit, but all good things must come to an end.” And so they must. Nick and I stay over to help the Perrymans right the house and prepare for Monday and everything the week will bring.