Friday, May 20, 2011
Yesterday was my birthday. I had been apprehensive about it, but it turned out fine, in every sense. I had at one stage thought of having a party, but realised I just wasn't quite up to that. So instead I made sure I would have plenty of people to talk to and things to do.
I started with having my French friend to dinner on Wednesday night (tomorrow, see Something Else to Eat - too late to get that post up tonight). Thursday was glorious, sunny, warm and calm. It took me all of a leisurely morning to open my mail (including a large parcel full of goodies from my sister), answer the emails and phone calls, eat a giant lemon danish with my coffee, and get ready to go out to lunch at a harbourside restaurant with my dear friend Lesley (we have a nice custom of shouting each other posh lunches for our birthdays). I didn't get home till after 4 - and then I found a penguin card and a tussie-mussie from my neighbour on my doorstep.
As it happened, of course, it was also Budget day, and that created its own momentum. Every year the Public Health Association holds a Wellington Post-Budget Breakfast, and for a few years now I've been one of the speakers, on behalf of Child Poverty Action. This year CPAG and the PHA were the joint co-hosts, and the speakers were economist Bill Rosenberg, economist and director of policy at the council of trade unions; Alan Johnson, social policy analyst with the Salvation Army and co-convenor of CPAG; and me.
What's this got to do with my birthday? Well, it meant that in the evening I knew I'd be flat out putting my talk together, once I'd seen the Budget and commentary and input from Susan St John and others at CPAG. And so it proved - I finished at midnight and set the alarm for 6 am. Along the way I had a great exchange of emails with my son in China. I was supposed to phone him at 8.30 our time (it's much easier and cheaper for me to call him), but I got so caught up in writing that I forgot, so he sent anxious enquiries, and I did finally manage to talk to him about 11 pm. Here's what he sent me earlier, all in fancy type - no wonder I went off to sleep smiling:
HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A TRULY BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS MOTHER!
THIS IS YOUR OFFICIAL CERTIFICATE FROM THE GODS IN CYBERSPACE.
IT CERTIFIES THAT ANNE ELSE ...lately Anne Else-McQueen ...is surviving the toughest time of her life to date, and doing it splendidly. She has a loving son, lots of magnificent friends, a lovely home, and an ongoing career as editor and soon to be well known writer and memoirist.
Three cheers for ANNE, HIP HIP HOORAY, HIP HIP HOORAY, HIP HIP HOORAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Signed INTERGALACTIC FEDERATION FOR APPRECIATION OF MARVELOUS WIDOWS (INC).
The breakfast was packed (four MPs and the mayor came) and it all went very well. Radio NZ quoted me at midday and Alan at 1pm (you can read it all soon, plus Susan St John, on http://www.cpag.org.nz/). Then I went to lunch with another friend at the new Roxy cinema in Mramar (they have carpet! you can hear each other!) and was treated to a magnifique French dinner by my delightful neighbour Frances, and more to come in the weekend. So I couldn't possibly have been better looked after.