Your birthday was a bit shit, wasn't it? Sorry about that. What with your flu, dull presents, dinner of chicory and sausages on sticks and "poo cake" as the children hilariously called it. Oh, and your parents completely forgetting. You were even feeling too feeble for birthday sex with your lumpen snotty spouse type person, who was prepared to put out, though not with overwhelming erotic enthusiasm.
I am sorry you got four jumpers for presents, and a Wii game chosen by the children on the basis that it came with a free mercenary dolly. You were not even allowed to keep the mercenary dolly, though we did leave you the CD of Bulgarian chanting. It must seem a little ironic to you that I bitch endlessly about how rubbish you are at buying presents, but have been unable to get it together to find you a good one for, ooh, at least 5 years now. I am sorry that when you say how old 39 feels, I agree heartlessly that you are, indeed, very old indeed. And speculate about what I will do with the extra twenty years I will have after you die, and what breed of misanthropic small dog to get.
I am sorry we had your poo cake a day early so as not to waste it, and that Fingers whispered to you that "the poo cake has chocolate brownie in", giving away any shred of suprise. I am sorry I did not manage to shove any of the filth away to allow you to enjoy some semblance of order or cleanliness for your birthday. I am sorry I did not even get it together to transfer all our money under your mattress to quell your galloping anxiety at the financial crisis.
More generally, I am sorry that I am such a prickly, difficult person to live with, that I yawn openly when you try and tell me about work, that I get to be the "fun" parent while you do the discipline, that I bitch tiresomely about your family and that I am an unenthusiastic cook and crap at cleaning and tidying and paying bills. I am extra sorry that I make out that your concern for basic hygiene standards means you are unbearably bourgeois, whereas I am a Free Spirit. I am sorry we make you read The Big Wide Mouthed Frog aloud so we can laugh at your prononciation. You bear all this with great fortitude. Even when I take pictures of your ugly shoes and mock them openly on the internets.
You have been endlessly tolerant of my fucking insane family stuff, my mental health wobbles, eating lunacy, post natal gloom, incredibly repressed inability to talk about sex, or indeed, do very much of it. Not to mention my baldness. Yes! You have a bald partner! Glamorous. You still, mysteriously, find me sexy, which is frankly deranged since I wear jumpers and socks to bed. There is no accounting for taste, I suppose.
I will never ever forget and am endlessly grateful for how amazing you were when my mum died. You fought like a Rottweiler to get her body back from Italy when I didn't have any fight left in me, and you managed it. You found, and arranged, the most beautiful, wild, isolated spot for her in the cemetery, surrounded by brambles and long grass, a small but perfectly formed tree, and a couple of rather dashing sounding first world war casualties. There is even a bench. It suits her perfectly. You did that. When I took Fingers to meet her just after he was born, I laid him down on the little mound of grass in the spring sunshine under the tree, had a little cry and thanked you yet again in my head. I hope I thanked you out loud too, but I'm not sure I did.
You spent endless hours in the back yard smoking and drinking to keep prog rock step dad company as he raved on and on, mad with grief. You probably understood about 3 percent of what he was saying (we didn't understand much more), but you hung on in there with him. Seriously, that was amazing. It was fun when he jumped over the wall to run away from the neighbours and rang us up to tell us he was in hiding behind the Portakabin, wasn't it? There was plenty of dark humour to be had then, and you were around to share it with me. You listened to lots of raving mad Scottish people and wordy academics with enormous politeness, when the Space Cadette and I were too mental to string a sentence together. You were perfect company throughout the whole shit storm.
You are way nicer to the Bearded One than I am, and sweet and generous and tolerant to the Space Cadette. You are amazingly lovely with my brother's kids and you hate his bastard brain tumour so much. You are properly angry with it, and this translates into fantastic feats of entertaining and loving my (and your, truly your) nephew and niece. You can hypnotise pigs by scratching behind their ears. You are a fantastic father, sweet and funny and loving and not adverse to putting pants on your head. Your boys are beautiful and funny too and when you gave Lashes a huge hug yesterday for getting 15/15 in his maths test, I watched his face and he was incandescent with pride. Fingers adores you. Whenever you go away he adds up in his secretive little head how many days it will be 'til you return, and counts them down, feverishly. He isn't quite himself until you come back.
Happy birthday sweetheart. You could have done a whole lot better than me, but I'm very glad you didn't.
Here's a picture of some tortoises for your birthday.