Today is the Sage’s birthday. As ever, he doesn’t want a fuss made so we haven’t, I’ve bought some particularly fine meat from the farm shop stalls at next village’s Friday night market and we’re having a barbecue this evening.

Everyone else has gone to more trouble than me and my children, it’s embarrassing. Dilly has had a cake made and beautifully decorated and she and Al have commissioned a piece of china which will please him hugely, and about which more later. The china factory has made him a piece specially, which is immensely kind and which will touch him more than anything else.
He will have the metal detector from me, which he went and bought, I’ve since given him the money, I don’t think Ro has got anything yet and will have to scurry out this morning, El is going on holiday today and so is relying on getting something ethnic from a muck’n’tat stall in north Africa and Al shines vicariously through Dilly.

We are just not into making a fuss. None of us likes being on the receiving end, so tend not to hand it out either. The men of the family take ignoring their birthdays to the absolute limit they can get away with, though El and I can take a certain amount of pampering. Christmas is better, as it’s not all about one person and we all love a party and general celebration. We do tend to give each other ideas for presents though, as we all have, in our time, opened too many deeply unsuitable ones. My mother was once given a Max Bygraves LP – Swingalongamax – by a female friend ‘I know you love music’ and she was deeply offended, and would have thought it a studied insult if it were not for the fact that the friend never listened to music of any sort and probably found Max the height of suave charm. As maybe he was, but his music was not to our taste (I’m being tactful).

Of course, the best presents are still the wonderful surprises and we have all given and received some of those too. And the Sage has a few treats in store today. I think, having been unimaginative in the present line myself, the best thing I can do now is to go out with him this afternoon and wonder and exclaim at the thrill of metal detecting. Even if, in this neck of the woods, what one mostly finds are bits of shrapnel from the war and the occasional coin which has fallen out of a fisherman’s pocket. Maybe I should hide something exciting and challenge him to find it.

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