ONE card. One bloody card. That's all I received as the mileometer clicked over to 47 on Tuesday. Thanks a lot, Dad and Jean.
Of course, the Fat Kid was full of apologies and excuses like: "I forgot your address" and "I couldn't find anything suitable" and "The big boy ate my child benefit", but I'm afraid that's not good enough. And she wants me to buy her a new car. It will take a darn sight more grovelling than normal (before I will inevitably give in, as she sees it).
To be fair, her card and a separate one from the Vin Man and the Big Boy, arrived a couple of days later - it's the thought that counts and she obviously thought she could get away with it. I also had a card the following day from my childhood mate Laurie up in Milton Keynes who, to be fair, only found out about my birthday on the actual day.
Withers and I had a practice booze run on Monday afternoon. Damn his eyes, he was right about Funny Girl. She now tells me she has a boyfriend. She's also doing an NVQ in food and drink, suggesting that she is probably a couple of years younger than my daughter - still, worth a try.
We ended up getting mashed and moving on to Bar Izit where we bumped into The Boss and The Prince of Darkness, who were off to wallow in the misery of some old alcoholic singer-guitarist (yeh, there are so many I can get away with that description without fear of a libel action).
A few Bloody Mary's left me feeling pretty messed up the next day, when I woke to open my card, which took all of five seconds. Spent the rest of the day trying to resist going into town to get drunk on Booze Day Tuesday on the basis many people weren't around and that I wanted to meet up with my mates Scooby, Gareth and Pete in the evening.
Good old Pete. He ALWAYS forgets my birthday. How do I know? Because he always decided that he will Fast in January, abstaining from drink and cigarettes for the whole month. That's before I remind him my big day is on the 23rd. "Oh b*ll**ks," he says, knowing his willpower will not survive.
Nevertheless, he was in a great mood when we met up. He came around the house about 4 and I offered him a cup of tea. "I had a beer in mind," he replied.
We ended up in the Wetherspoons at the bottom of City Road where Pete immediately proceeded in "lapping" me ie having two pints in the time it took me to drink one. And he never let his pace drop. He had obviously been greatly missing alcohol.
While there we bumped into my guru, who was immediately dragged into a conversation about alternative medicines with Scooby, who is really into that sort of thing. Pete was pretty dismissive of all that, as he slurped down another brew in record time.
Unfortunately it didn't help him on the pool table. I teamed up with Gareth to beat the other two 4-0. Poor Scooby, he hadn't realised Pete was so bladdered. During this period the man had fallen off the waggon so badly that he had also confessed to cheating at scrabble against his girlfriend, a heinous crime which I dobbed him in for when she rang later that evening.
The night finished in the Kismet curry house where a very enjoyable meal was rounded off when the owner kindly gave us all a free coffee on the basis that not only was it my birthday but that I had also endured the pain of the Ashes whitewash (he was a Bangladesh supporter - even THEY managed to beat Australia in a one-day game in Cardiff not that long ago. I envisage them leapfrogging us in the battle to be bottom of the ODI ratings before long).
MET up with Celtic Liz on Thursday. I call her Celtic Liz because her name is Liz and she used to work for Celtic Newspapers. I was trying to advise her on all things Bristol as she has landed a staff sub-editing job on the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press and is considering moving lock, stock and barrel to God's own Land.
It was during our chat in the Copa that I suddenly realised how bad my eyes have got. Liz was showing me a list of house adverts. Not only could I not read the ad, I couldn't even read the headline to tell me which area it was in. Oh, the shame. Another eye check when I get back to work I reckon. At this age it seems everything is starting to fall apart.