Claiming the day

Wednesday 17th August 2011

NOTE to self – next year: long sleep beforehand; set alarm to midnight; do the whole twenty-four hours. Gifts are not always paper-wrapped and, at the risk of repeating myself, there is no present like the time. Claim the day.

It was a good one, mind – from the warmth of a BBC studio to a packed Dublin night spot, with quick dips into London and Leicester, a country pub, the coincidental cabbie, and a flying visit to Delphi.

Radio 5 can disappoint during the day: sport is more news than commentary and news more commentary than news. Into the small hours, however, tiptoes Up All Night, hosted by Dotun Adebayo or Rhod Sharp. Duvet-warm voices, dunked-biscuit discussions. Between half-drawn curtains, I spy the moon tuning in too.

They’re discussing books. I phone in. Dotun indulges me. When I bemoan a possible future without physical books, his guest reviewer reminds us that Fahrenheit 451 is also:

“About how we hold books inside us.”

Dotun is somebody who:

“Loves to feel and smell the vinyl.” He collected 78s when younger. “I used to go to bed with them in case there was an earthquake.”

Later, by bus to the station, to renew my railcard. Brian’s taxi idles on the forecourt.

“Working on my birthday,” he grins. I can’t not tell him the circumstances of my own arrival.

In a pub garden, over coffee, I write of wasps and friendships. Two young buzzards high-five wing-tips. A farmer harvests winter feed.

Back home to family phone messages, drawing me into a garden of granddaughters, to their paddling-pool faces and trampoline smiles.

A colleague calls while I am eating.

“Cake, I hope!” Her boyfriend has helped prevent a city mugging.

“Hi, dad!” My younger daughter, singing from the omphalos of Greece, underscored by cicadas, smelling of olive groves.

The evening ends with The Commitments, loud music headphoned into a soul happy with the day’s many returns.

Shamefacedly, I decide to add several links to a piece about my 61st birthday. Forgive me, dear reader. Just this once.

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