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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Having a Birthday: McReadie Style

'Twas my birthday on Monday. I'm now officially twenty seven years of age - a fact that made me wake at half four in the morning and freak out about how little I've done, and how I'm not where I thought I would be at twenty seven, and how twenty seven is only three years away from thirty.

This is not uncharacteristic of me. I tend to do this each and every birthday (and each and every New Year). When I turned eight, I probably freaked out about how little I'd achieved, and how I'd yet to master times tables, and how I really expected to be further along in my writing career by this point.

That's one of the many reasons I'm not wild about birthdays. And so I tend to downplay the day I turn a year older. I haven't had a birthday party since I was about seven (by eight, I was probably too busy worrying about long multiplication to feel like celebrating). I keep the date on my birthday on a strictly need to know basis. "Fortunately", half of those people who I do deem need to know are absolutely hopeless with dates, and so tend to forget about The Big Day in any case. This pisses me off, frankly. If you're taken into the small group who know the date of McReadie's Birthday, the least you can do is bloody well remember it.

So, no, I don't tend to do big celebrations for my birthday. I tend to go home, and do vaguely celebratory but low-key things like eating take out pizza, playing hours of video games, watching TV, and sleeping. Admittedly, this is pretty much what I normally do but, what the hell, it's what I like doing, and so I'll damn well do it on my birthday.

This year, however, had the potential to be a little different. Jason Mraz - one of the merry band of male singer-songwriters in heavy rotation on McReadie's iPod - was in town. I already had tickets for his 21 February gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire. But then I discovered he was playing a free, acoustic set at Borders in Islington - on my birthday.

I figured this would be a pretty damn good way to celebrate my turning twenty seven. So I excitedly made plans to attend. Dammit, maybe I'd even make a song request - saying it was my birthday to give me extra influence. I'd bring along my copy of his first studio album, to prove I was no Johnny Come Lately, and ask him to sign it. I would do all this because I was twenty seven years old, dammit, and it was time to kiss goodbye to the social anxiety that previously would have crippled me in such a situation.

So, on the day of my birthday, I woke up with even more nervous excitement than I normally would on the 20 February. The show was scheduled for four. I relaxed, opened some of the lovely presents my Ma, Pa, and brother had bought for me, and started to think about which song I'd be requesting at Islington Borders at four o'clock (eventual decision: On Love, In Sadness).

After a lazy morning, I decided to plan my journey over to Islington. Logged onto the Borders Events website in order to remind myself of where the Islington branch was, and to figure out what time I'd need to leave in order to get there by four.

But the website said something strange: it said the event was at 1pm. Even though last time I'd looked, it had definitely said four.

I noticed this at about twenty to one. I was in Tulse Hill. Short of taking a plane there (which, we all know, would hold problems for me) I was not gonna make it to Islington by one.

But surely there had been some mistake? They couldn't have rearranged the concert. I'd come back to London from Newbury a day early in order to see it. I had the whole day off. It was my birthday, for crying out loud!

So I phoned the branch. The event was indeed at one. The schedule had been changed.

So I missed the concert. This is a fact that still depresses me - more so after the brilliance of Tuesday night at Shepherds Bush. And after I read on a messageboard that there were only about thirty or forty people at the free Islington gig. And that it was entirely acoustic - just Mraz and his guitar. And that he played nothing but requests.

So for the rest of the afternoon of my twenty seventh birthday, I sat around depressed, wondering how to salvage the day. Answer? Takeaway pizza - my first of the year (damn this Sensible Eating New Year's Resolution). And a piece of the birthday cake my Mum had kindly cooked for me, which proved once again that my Mum makes the best cake in the universe.

Ah, well. Maybe my twenty eighth birthday will be better. Though I already know I'll wake up in half four in the morning, freaking about how I'm twenty eight, and the fact that's only two years off thirty, and the fact that I thought I woulda achieved more by now - like, say, having managed to request a song at a free acoustic set performed by one of my favourite artists.



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