Jun 21, 2006

NEW YORK –  En route to work, I stop to see travel writer Marie Javins and my 87-year-old grandmother.

Work happens to be in southern Africa this week. Ms Javins lurks around New York City like most sensible American authors. Grammy lives in Connecticut, in the Sopranoland's heart of darkness...

"Why don't we buy a cake?" Marie suggests at Grand Central Station. Fresh off a redeye flight (the first of three, Seattle-Cape Town), I stare blankly. Sweets are not really my style. Especially so early in the morning.

Several hours later, the shoe drops. Oh yeah, she meant birthday cake. As in my birthday. Today.


Aunt Jane says a prayer for my jetlag on the Miracle Hotline. The results aren't immediate, but it's the thought that counts, right?


And so I celebrate my birthday in Bristol, bleary, but happy. Every painting, every porcelain figurine, every strip of wallpaper here is intimately familiar: a static tableau, a still life stretching back decades. Only the players have evolved on this stage.

As tradition dictates, I fold the mirror wings around my face in the downstairs bathroom. My pug-nosed profile echoes into eternity.

"Thirty-one," I announce, testing myself.

I study my smile lines.

No It-girl panic attack. No tightening of the mortal coil.

Just a slight hankering for more ravioli and a nap.


  1. 31 sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?

  2. Now Marie, that's no way for a fresh-faced lass of 25 to be talking. Just hold your horses....

  3. Anonymous12:04 AM

    My aim is for my right-middle 'crow-toe' to hit my ear on my 31st birthday....in 2 months time.
    More of your blog and I might just get there.

    Happy belated birthday you Seattlesih rose!


  4. Danke schon, mein leibling!

    Unfortunately, you've hit upon my diabolical plan: make all my younger friends crinkle with laughter until I appear fresh-faced.

    Now, if only I could work out how to be amusing without reference to mullets or diamond-inlay...

  5. Anonymous1:45 PM

    You evil thing!

    You see, with NHS dentists nearing extinction (Dentistus Extinctus ...as Ben calls it)and on my practically extinct freelancing ££, I have some unsightly gaps at the back of my row of pearlies (tooth out £20...root-canal and crown £600, you see). I can only afford half-smiles these days. So, do me a favour and double the mullets, mein Liebling!!!

    The tall, blond German

  6. Not to brag, but with this mop of long hair, I could sculpt a really impressive Femmullet...

    You too, Sacha darling.

    Maybe it's the key to increased freelance success. I bet once we join the Schlong Secret Society, fatty gigs will just abound.

    Then we could even afford pearl dentures. Now that's BLING, baby!

  7. Anonymous2:26 PM

    ...as my vey gay and very chatty local hairdresser keeps saying:
    "With hair like yours, baby, you have nothing to worry about in life."

    There you go Amanda. You will be the hairess of great fortunes.

    With hairs and graces,