Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day and also my 450th birthday. In order for my day to have meaning, I’m harnessing the power of celebrity (raising teenagers and eating their two-minute noodles will do that to your brain). Growing up near Crows Nest I was obviously born to plunder. Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum, hoist the mizzen.
I share a birthday with Twiggy, Mama Cass and my spiritual guru, chocolate maker and philanthropist George Cadbury. I work for a charity that was sponsored for years by Cadbury chocolate. As Oprah would say, I found my destiny; I was born to consume chocolate, preferably the expensive stuff.
“I’m no longer a child and I still want to be, to live with the pirates. Because I want to live forever in wonder. The difference between me as a child and me as an adult is this and only this: when I was a child, I longed to travel into, to live in wonder. Now, I know, as much as I can know anything, that to travel into wonder is to be wonder. So it matters little whether I travel by plane, by rowboat, or by book. Or, by dream. I do not see, for there is no I to see. That is what the pirates know. There is only seeing and, in order to go to see, one must be a pirate.” Kathy Acker
I am officially an old bag. Today I turn 50 and I’m trying hard not to whinge. For it is a privilege to be 50. My friends who died of breast cancer in their 40s would love to be where I am. And so would the kids who were robbed of their mothers.
The beautiful sick kids I’ve met at the hospitals I work in who left way too soon didn’t get to be adults at all. And the families and friends of my darlings Veljko, Mark and Anthony who died in their 20s would love to know them in their 50s. Those guys would have aged like fine wine if they’d had the chance.
I don’t feel that different, but I look in the mirror and I see age creeping up on me. I was born on a Monday, “Monday’s child is fair of face,” but my face looks like it needs more sleep. And my knees creak from all the stilt walking, gymnastics and dancing drunk in stupid high heels over the past 35 years. I can still have fun with my kids, my best friends, the families I meet through my work and I share great love with a beautiful heart. But there are things I’m worried that I haven’t done yet. Maybe I won’t get to live in New York or drive across Africa. Maybe I won’t be brave enough to sail across the world. Maybe crazy life goals are in the past. Maybe I won’t sing with Kermit or be the next teen superstar.
I share my birthday with fabulous people like Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Frances Farmer, Mama Cass, Daniel Lanois, Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Fallon and Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives, darling. Today is also International Talk Like a Pirate day.
At 50 I’ve realised that the cocker spaniels I’ve had in my life may be the only dogs I own in this lifetime as I can’t afford to buy a house.
But 50 brings great rewards. I can sing, dance, laugh and love, I have fabulous kids, and I’ve given up people who drain me of precious energy. I have no time for those who don’t contribute to improving our world. So hit the high seas for some hijinks you swashbuckling scoundrels. I’ll be wearing my new earrings that cost a bucaneer. 50 is swell.
When I was pregnant with The One Who Changed Everything I read a memoir by Isabel Allende called Paula, written about her daughter. Until I read the book I’d been in massive ‘motherhood won’t change me’ denial about my gal’s impending birth, but I knew afterwards that I was about to embark on a life changing journey. After an exhausting start, a little girl called V opened me up to the beauty and joy and suffering in the world, she showed me the way.
Happy 17th birthday Vee-Yon-Say, so glad I am your mama. Thank you for your wisdom, your light and your humour. I know I am the Eddy to your Saffy, I love you smarty pants
Happy birthday to my brave, hilarious, whacky little stunt woman, the girl who told me just the other day, “You don’t actually just grow mum, fairies help you grow.” I’m so glad I am your mama.
Let us stop for a moment as we remember today was the birthday of the playwright Harold Pinter. The fabulous modern showgirl David Lee Roth was also born today.
As I reflect on my single mother status and wonder if I should be married and living in happy couple land, I think of famous marriages in history:
On this day in 1975 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton celebrated wedding No. 2.
Today is the birth day of Ivan Pavlov, the renowned Nobel prize winning Russian physiologist who discovered that dogs like salivating when humans ring bells (or something). Coincidentally, today I discovered the ‘child as Pavlov’s dog’ phenomenon as I put my youngest daughter in the shower. To make her cry, I just say the word ‘soap.’ If there is dirt her body will find it, then she will share it with the walls of our house. She is generous like that, my baby gurl could be the grottiest little monster on the planet.
Happy birthday to me. Kooky single mother clown comedy writer. Please give generously or small children may go without food, and my poor, long-suffering teenager may grow up deprived of designer clothes and shoes. Apparently I’m supposed to starve to pay for everything.
Amy Winehouse would have been 30 today.
Joyeux anniversaire a mon cher ami