Just one letter this Friday, to my mother who turns 50 today.
When I said I would be attending your 50th birthday while in England, a lot of people were surprised. Other people my age have parents who are already in their 60s… sometimes even late 60s. But you always were younger than most of my friends’ parents. Mostly, I thought that was a good thing – you were always so much more fun than those other stuffy, responsible adults, and now I’m older I love that I can go out for a drink or a shopping trip for you and actually feel like we have something in common. But our relationship hasn’t always been this great. For a lot of my childhood, my sister and I were basically left to raise ourselves (and later I helped raise my brother). I was 8 the first time I made tea for the three of us (sausages, chips and beans!) and started babysitting at around the same time I started secondary school. Even before that, one of the local teenagers would come and look after us every Friday and Saturday night. For a long time, I resented that. Looking back now, as an almost 30 year old, I still can’t 100% agree with everything you did back then, but I can certainly understand it a lot better. Going from living at home with your parents in the place you’d been brought up to being an army wife and new mother in a strange town within the space of 6 months can’t have been easy for you! And no matter what you did “wrong”, you always came through when it was important – whether it was baking a cake for the school fair, showing up to cheer us on at sports day, providing money (that we technically didn’t have) so I could go on school trips or driving me to and from sea cadets every Friday. And throughout everything else, I don’t think any of us ever doubted that you loved us. HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY MAMMY! Here’s to many, many more.
Love you! Beverley xxx
Google UK just told me Paddington, the marmelade loving bear featured in the books by Michael Bond, is 50, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to one of my favourite bears.
I used to have a Paddington Bear when I was little. He was about 15 centimetres high with a red hat and a blue duffle coat that could be fastened with real wooden toggles. He was brilliant. I knitted him a scarf once. I was about 6 or 7 and someone had bought me a kids knitting set for Christmas (with red plastic needles). It was probably my Grandma – she was always into knitting. I got some bright pink wool to go with it so I decided I was going to knit a scarf. I had only knitted a tiny, miniscule scarf (maybe 10 centimetres long) when i got bored of it, so I announced that it was going to be a scarf for Paddington, as if that had been my intention all along. And so it became Paddington’s scarf. Not too long after that both Paddington and scarf went missing – I suspect it happened during our move from Northern Ireland back to England. Lots of stuff went missing during our various moves. I was quite upset about losing Paddington. After all, I had loved him enough to knit him his very own scarf.
Now I have a new Paddington. I spotted him at Heathrow airport the week before last and told Jan, who doesn’t know the Paddington bear books, the story of how I knitted my Paddington a scarf and lost him. I must have sounded pretty nostalgic because Jan promptly counted out the last of his English money to go towards buying me a new Paddington. Naturally I chose one with a red hat and blue duffle coat – some had them the other way round but in my memory Paddington’s coat was blue! My new bear is holding a briefcase and has a label round his neck – “Please look after this bear”. His toggles aren’t real, but that’s ok. I still love him, and I love my boyfriend for spontaneously deciding to buy him for me.
Happy Birthday Paddington Bear! May you continue to eat marmelade sandwiches for another 50 years.