It's my birthday soon. I say soon; it's not, like, tomorrow or anything. But now is about when I start allowing myself to think about it. Any sooner and I get too overwrought and sick with excitement by the time the day rolls around, haven't slept for days and anything short of litters of bulldog puppies, Alexander McQueen dresses, vintage diamond earrings, long weekends in the Hôtel Crillon, all expenses paid trips to the Liberty Hall of Shoes, pyramids of Ladurée salted caramel and lemon macaroons and Matisse lithographs seems somehow unworthy of me and makes me sulk and have to spend most of the day in my room crying and banging things. I ration birthday thoughts around this time of year, allowing myself one or two a day, and gradually building up to a pleasurable sense of TOTAL FUCKING CRAZY EXCITEMENT the night before. Yes, indeed, I am six on the inside.
It is around this time that the hunted expression the CFO usually wears takes on an extra sheen of panic. Birthdays have caused more friction between the CFO and I than almost anything else. I am tremendously high maintenance when it comes to birthdays. I like A Fuss. Not only do I like A Fuss, but I equate presents with LOVE, with the predictably disastrous consequences you can imagine.
The CFOs mother believes that if you give the birthday boy/girl anything within 6 weeks of the date, you are doing marvellously. She regularly forgets his birthday, or she'll give him a jumper that turned out to be too small for his dad, or some towels. She doesn't make cakes, or do wrapping. The CFO is consequently happy with pretty much anything, especially things with buttons or twiddly bits. His best EVER present was a Barnitts voucher. He is easy. Not as easy as Prog Rock Step Dad who was so totally delighted with a pop sock filled with false nails and whisky miniatures bought from the Spar, but still easy. He is also DOOMED.
He is doomed because, in contrast, I like to be fêted with a massive, ridiculous amount of lavish gifts, and festivities. Ideally, I would like to start my day with a decent fistful of diamonds hiding in my cup of Smoky Earl Grey Kusmi tea, a couple of perfectly cooked crumpets with super salty butter, a pristine copy of Grazia. Next, perhaps the CFO could take me off to the airport for a short break in Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux, where I would find my litter of puppies and possibly a nice horse waiting for me, draped in Net à Porter packages, decorative ribbons, fine art and large bowls. You get the picture. I blame Nancy Mitford. I thought it might get better when I had children, but if anything it's got worse. It's the one day in the year I feel I can be an outrageous diva - bring me homemade cake and dancing girls! It's MY DAY (cue trembling lip).
High expectations of course mean disappointment. I get lots of that. Even before the CFO came on the scene, the Bearded One was pretty good at providing it. He does not even know when my birthday is, or how old I am, and usually buys all his presents from the Science Museum in bulk at Christmas, drunk, then distributes them arbitrarily throughout the year. It's even worse when he strays away from the astronaut pens and freeze dried food - one particularly searing year he got me the Times Atlas of World History and another year some frightening pottery from the Cotswolds in a sort of lumpen brown sandy finish that I still haven't had the heart to take home from his house. He got me something lavish for my 21st (pearl and diamond earrings), but was a bit nonplussed about it, since he had asked his secretary (tremendously old money and cut glass vowels, wardrobe entirely composed of woollen day dresses from Country Casuals) to get what she thought was appropriate and she had been to Asprey and done precisely as requested. Hee!
The CFO's liste noire of bad presents includes:
The year of the Tamagotchi. I am such a ball of neuroses that the tamagotchi nearly drove me mad. I think I had PTD (post tamagotchi depression) - the loss of autonomy, the constant anxiety, the inability to bond with the tiny pixellated image. Ghastly. After about a week, the CFO took matters into his own hands and drowned the tamagotchi in our fish tank. Then we buried it under his grandma's yucca tree.
The year of the vanity case - black plastic massive chunky vanity case. "But, but, you have loads of produits! I thought it would be useful!"
The kitchenaid - I LOVE the Kitchenaid, more than several members of my family, but I really didn't want silver. I wanted almond or green. Yes, I am a spoilt bitch, aren't I? I love it now, silver or not.
I'll have to add to this as they come back to me. I seem to have suppressed a lot of memories. I know there are lots more. Oh, yes, there was the year where I found a tiny box and convinced myself it was something involving diamonds and it was an address book.
I don't know what I think I have to complain about though. I know a girl who got an EXTRACTOR FAN for her birthday. More often, he gets it pretty much right (a great watch, a beautiful tiny Dufy drawing, a cup he had specially made for me with a duck with teeth on, a lovely bracelet) but I am still a colossal bitch because I feel he has merely managed to follow instructions rather than surprise and delight me. Who could blame him? I work myself into a frenzy that nothing could possibly satisfy, then bring out my pout of barely suppressed disappointment. Aren't you really, really glad you don't know me in real life? Am I not a total spoilt brat?
Best present, worst present everyone? Help me get over-excited and twitchy. Feed my fantasies. Get me worked up until I'm sick with excitment. I've got my party dress on and I'm about to stick my fingers in the cake, get hysterical and have to be put to bed early.
(oh, yeah the bit where I said today would be more glitteringly entertaining than the last few days was evidently a lie. I will try to stop lying now. Hey, I have already plugged my phone in and spat out toothpaste in the sink twice! I am a veritable self-improvement machine! Expectations should remain low. I thank you.)