Today, is my birthday. Forty eight years. Free cake from my favourite cafe. Memories of youth. As a child, I had only one birthday party, aged about 9. I invited only the boys from my class, and we ate jelly and played football in our huge garden. Sweaty, exhausted and covered in mud, Darren Dolan told me it was the best party he’d ever been to.
Later, birthdays were not always encompassed by such an aura of celebration. My 18th birthday, I spent penniless, squatting in Hulme, Manchester, an evening stroll with my friend Brains, as he picked up fag ends to feed his addiction. Memories are made of this, I remember thinking, systematically criss crossing the curved concrete fortifications of home.
My 21st was an improvement. I was still broke, but had a council flat, in Wolverhampton. Out walking my now dead dog, my now dead friend, and heroin addict, Steve Page, bought me half a Guinness in the Fox pub by Molineux Stadium.
All he could afford, the rest of his money promised to the opiates that killed him.
When I moved to Exeter, in my 30’s, things greatly improved. A birthday walk around Exeter’s Green Circle, 12 miles of walking and talking with friends,no money spent, but none needed. Another birthday in my 30’s, when I felt more socially awkward, I hired the Cavern, asked my friend John to DJ, and put on three bands, all of which I was in. this left just enough time for some catching up and light interaction, before my social anxiety could raise it’s head. It was great to have an escape route. Actually one of the bands was just me, and some vegetables, wired up through Plantchant devices, which is exactly the sort of thing I would take me to see, on my own birthday.
And so back to today. Sunny and bright. a morning organising Direct Debits, practicing bass lines, worrying about a terminally ill friend, then out into the world, chance meetings with old friends, free cake from my favourite cafe.