I’ll be completely open and honest about this. Today’s memory is late because yesterday was my birthday and I was too busy enjoying myself to write anything.
This wasn’t always the case, of course. For a chunk of my childhood my birthdays were filled with a curious mixture of fear and longing. The longing was because a birthday is a time to receive gifts and to eat cake, and I always looked forward to those elements. The fear, though, was because 5/7 of the time I would have to go to school.
In my view, birthdays should be a holiday day for any schoolchild, because in most schools birthdays are just an additional excuse for the other children to pick on the birthday child. I knew of kids who would try and keep their birthdays as quiet as possible in the hope that no-one would find out – something that was difficult to do in the days when that information was printed in the class register for anyone to see.
It wasn’t just the ‘bumps’ – the act by which other children would grab you by your arms and legs and attempt to simultaneously throw you in the air a number of times equivalent to your new age and dislocate your shoulders – that were a problem. As you got older, the attacks became more mindless. I remember cycling down the steep hill leading towards my secondary school one birthday and finding that one particular boy had decided that it would be a good idea to throw eggs at me in an attempt to celebrate my day by knocking me from my bike at 20mph.
On another day one of my classmates was thrown in the school pond by a group of boys who had not been discrete enough in planning to do it to me. The classmate became the unwitting victim because I learned of the plan and made myself scarce.
Aged 18, I resolved that I would never go to work on my birthday if I could avoid it, and with two exceptions I have stuck to that plan. Everyone else thinks I am mad, but to me the day off is a present to myself.