But the sun came out and gave us an unexpectedly sunny afternoon, and I recovered my good temper, with Dónall to cheer me up and shower me with books and DVD's as presents. There was also the prospect of a taxi-ride down to Jane Austen's House Museum at Chawton for the launch of three poetry pamphlets, one of them containing poems by Dónall and me, and all edited by Maura Dooley (one of the nicest poets and facilitators we know.)
I decided to write a poem for my own birthday and by the end of the day it was finished enough to post online. I received a huge number of birthday wishes from my friends on Facebook, which always touches me though I think I'm going to feel cynical and hard about such messages. I loved everybody by the end of the day. Here's the birthday poem:
To Dónall on my Birthday
Today I’ve arrived at a biblical age.
I’ve sailed through seventy years
dancing on the deck of my Titanic life
to the beat of the world’s waves
and the counterpoint of my own needs.
I’ve been washed up many times
on desert islands of my own choosing
aware that I’m losing, scared of release,
but now you’re here
with that loquacious
multi-coloured parrot on your shoulder
both your eyes unmasked.
You’re a singlehanded leader
a rescue party of one.
Let’s swash-buckle together then,
steer on the ebb tide towards my sunset.
On 21st November I hit the big Seven-O - three score years and ten. This fact, combined with my three-months-old badly broken leg (still hobbling me since I fell downstairs at the end of August) and a wet, windy, grey start to the morning's weather, was a bit dispiriting in prospect.
It was lovely to see Maura again, as well as most of the people who were at her workshops with us, whose poems are also in "Awakening the House". Maura also launched her pamphlet of her own poems about the Museum, "A Quire of Paper", and a third comprising poems that she had commissioned from local poets. All three pamphlets are available from the Museum shop. Here are a few of those who read.
We love Chawton, which is only about 20 miles away from us. There are two places where you can buy a good meal opposite the house. We had lunch in Cassandra's Cup and waited for our taxi home in The Greyfriar pub, next door, where we were entertained with amazing magic tricks by Paul, and Dónall (almost) won a Guinness speed-drinking competition.
I hope my eightieth birthday turns out to be as much fun as my seventieth was!