Monday, 8 April 2013

Fork Handles And Foam Cutlasses



The Bairn has turned four. As Sandy Denny put it, who knows where the time goes? My guess is it goes down the back of the sofa along with all those hair clips, toys that came Sellotaped to magazines and breadstick crumbs.

It does seem as though only yesterday I was nervously putting on hospital scrubs and preparing to assist in the delivery of my first-born. Luckily the medics realised their mistake and I was stood down in favour of, you know, someone who knew what they were doing.

The Bairn has had two birthdays in Nairn and she’s now had two in Musselburgh. It underlines the fact that although I still think of us as a Highland family that has recently moved south, our child is now mostly a Central Belter. Although there’s an argument she will forever be Teuchter given her gestatory development was influenced by the maternal consumption of large quantities of chicken curry pies and cream meringues from Ashers the bakers.

I enjoyed something Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said recently. (Sorry. Do you need to sit down? Yes, I know. I liked what a Tory said. Shocking, I know.) He tweeted that he was preparing for his house to be invaded by lots of small children for a birthday party and knew how the British army felt at Rorke’s Drift.
They keep coming... for Wotsits and cocktail sausages

I’ll see his Zulu reference and raise him an Apocalypse Now quote. After the Bairn’s party I found myself muttering Kurtz’s line: “The horror! The horror!”

Truth be told the party went incredibly well and didn’t leave me utterly frazzled as in previous years. It seems when they get to this age they can pretty much entertain themselves, allowing the grown-ups a bit more time to have coffee and blether.

Wife-features had planned all sorts of games and was clearly itching to put on a PE teacher’s jogging suit and blow a whistle but as soon as the kids were in the garden and some balloons, bubbles and chocolate coins had been produced they were an uncontrollable cocktail of energy. We simply stood back and marvelled at their enthusiasm.

The party had a pirate theme and our wee lass and her girlie pals loved it. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the way girls are assumed to want to wear pink clothes and be princesses. (See what I mean via the Pink Stinks campaign.) The theme was her choice and I suspect has a lot to do with a certain ex-pirate turned underwater rescue cat. The big tankers we see crawling their way up and down the Forth are pirate ships, says the Bairn.

Of course the pirate theme then leads to the vexed issue of weaponry. Foam cutlasses were deployed and not a lot of fighting broke out. I vaguely recall having a cap gun as a boy and I turned out all right. Maybe I’ll reconsider the issue when the Bairn is older and asks to play Modern Piracy 2 – Hijack And Torture on the X Box.

The real torture came with the cutting of the cake. Yours truly, egged on by recent successes in the baking department and the manly dough-handling of Paul Hollywood, had promised to make the birthday cake from scratch. A Victoria sponge with jam filling was produced, with a cream and Smarties topping, and four candles. But at the last minute it occurred to me one of the party guests who would sample it would be my Gran, a former dinner lady whose baking is legendary. It was a real Man From Del Monte Says Yes moment when she pronounced the cake Quite Good.
The cake was decorated with fork handles

A real lesson we’ve learned from previous birthdays and Christmases is not to build expectations and not to have a clock counting down. I don’t think the Bairn quite understands the passage of time yet and if weeks go by before the big day the level of feverishness can get to be too much. There’s also the come down to manage. The day after the party we tried our best to spend lots of time playing with new toys and talking about going back to nursery after the holidays.

Only 261 sleeps till Christmas…  

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