Monday, May 1, 2017

Oh what a Birthday!

I will never forget the day of my tenth birthday. I got up expecting to receive the usual clothes passed down from my older cousins, second hand shoes, etc. But I was in for the suprise of my life when I arrived down stairs. There was not one present waiting for me. In fact, all I got was--- "what do you want for your breakfast Jim?" this was said by my Nan. "Sorry but that's all I can offer" she said. "It has been a bad year for all your aunts and uncles so they have no clothes to spare this year. But don't worry, I'm sure Christmas will be better." I was absolutely gutted while she said this. I noticed my grandfather who was sat in his armchair had a strange smile on his face.

My mum despite the hours she worked did not have much money as she had to pay towards the rent and food for us and one one of my aunts. My AUNTIE MAY, as she made me call her May who lived with us, was a lazy cow (that's what my other aunts called her). I never did work out why my mum had to look after May.

Anyway, after I finished my breakfast--- my Grandfather said "you had better get the chickens fed before you go to school. There's a new bag of feeds in the shed." So off I went really fed up. What a bloody horrible Birthday.  Not even let off with feeding of the chickens.

As I entered the shed, I noticed a big sheet at the other end--covering something up. Being a bit nosey as that sheet was not there the day before, I decided to have a look. I lifted the sheet up and saw a brand new bicycle. Not only new but a racing bike--that's when I heard a sound behind me. I looked around and my Nan and Grandfather were stood at the door, and they shouted "HAPPY  BIRTHDAY."

I was stunned. Never had I in ten years had a present like it. I just stood there crying. "Tears of joy." My nan explained, that all my aunts and uncles had been putting a little money in a pot for special treats. Not just for me but for all of my cousins as well. Then my grandfather said "when we're all confident that you're able to ride it, then you can use it to ride to school." Don't forget-- there are hardly any cars back in 1964. At least not where I lived and it was a three mile walk to school--- winter or summer. Not like today when mums take the kids in a car even if it's a hundred metres down the road.

But that was not the end of my birthday suprise. On the Saturday, my Aunt Mary and Uncle William came  along with their sons, Peter and Paul. They  took me to the west end of London, to watch a film in a brand new cinema that had opened. I had never been to a cinema. We did not even have a tv at home. The film was Snow White and although at first I was amazed by this huge screen, I landed up watching all the people around me that had dressed up to go and watch this film. Some had what I now know were ball gowns. Some men even wore top hats. I felt a little out of place in the beginning but my Aunt Mary said "are you okay?" I told her "I felt awkward." She said "don't be silly! These people are just like us. They dress up to feel special and forget work for once." That's when I noticed my Aunt Mary was also dressed up. My Uncle William was also wearing a tuxedo. How bloody posh is that I thought. And on to top of it all, the cinema looked like it was a palace. Yes they were like that back then in the west end.

So my birthday turned out to be the best ever and it will always be remembered that way.

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