What a birthday! What a wonderful, lovely, special birthday!
As Ian has said, I do tend to protract my birthdays over an entire weekend. Friday was The Walk (more about that later). Saturday was dinner with friends (more about that later) and the Cholmondesleys and Featherstonehaughs at Duckie (more about that, too). And then there was Sunday.
On Sunday morning, Marcus locked me in the bedroom: "You're not allowed to come out for about an hour and a half, OK?" "Why?" "Stop asking questions, and just stay there!"
So I sat there for a bit. I read the papers. I flicked through the twenty cable channels. I read the papers again to see if I'd missed anything. I texted Marcus: "More juice, please!" I texted him again: "I'm bored, can I come out yet?"
I thought to myself, "This is silly - I know he's making me a birthday cake."
At two o'clock, the doorbell rang. Marcus told me I had to answer it. All sorts of things went through my mind, chief among which was, "I hope he hasn't ordered me a strippergram!"
It was Jonathan and Mark, but I still didn't click. I thought they'd just popped round to wish me happy birthday, but when I took them into the house, the kitchen door was open, and the table was piled high with food, the sink was full of beers [and so was the fridge, and so was an ice bucket] and then the doorbell rang again, and again, and again, and simply everybody was there, handing me presents, wishing me happy birthday, and I kept mumbling, "I had no idea, I had no idea, and I still have no idea what's going on."
And I was in the kitchen, and a familiar face appeared, and I thought, "That looks like Mike, but can't be Mike - he lives all the way up in Nottinghamshire. But it was Mike, who had come down all the way from Nottinghamshire, just for my birthday. Another lovely surprise was the appearance [in both senses of the word] of Dave and Kelvin, who I didn't realise even existed outside of the confines of the RVT. And Scally strode in, all in leather, his helmet in his hands.
And then, and then, and then. Oh, more people arrived, and I kept opening presents, and opening bottles of beer and putting them down and forgetting where I'd put them and opening more bottles of beer, and opening the door and saying, "I had no idea, I had no idea." Because I really had no idea. Marcus had organised all of this, for me, and everyone had kept it a secret from me.
Such wonderful presents, too:
A PlayStation 2 [yes, really] with a DVD, a CD and a game to go with it [thankyouthankyouthankyou]; a lovely black Fred Perry tracksuit top, The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru, a book on how to design logos, The Art Book, The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, an Andy Warhol Marilyn hot water bottle, three specially-mixed-just-for-me CDs, Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City, a gorgeous cake from Patisserie Valerie [which I forgot to cut, so have brought into work today] and lots and lots of wine and champagne.
You can tell what your friends think of you from the presents you get. Mine clearly think I'm an artistic drunk. A piss-artist.
But the best birthday present of all was the party. I was made to feel very special and very loved.
At five, the entire party went down to the RVT. Dame Edna put on an incredible show. I was so pleased that Mike was seeing one of her best shows - I kept looking over to check that he was enjoying it. He was loving it. We danced and drank and sang our little hearts out and grinned from ear to ear. Oh, and then we went to Duke's, where even the stripper was the sexiest I've ever seen. And I had a heart-to-heart with Pano - our long-delayed relationship post-mortem. And it was wonderful.
The whole bloody day was wonderful. It was a special, glowing day, just like birthdays used to be when you were a child. Thank you everybody for all the pressies, all the love, and thank you espcially to Marcus. I love you.
38 special, indeed.