Fifty years and a day ago, at approximately five o’clock in the afternoon, out I popped, bemused and befuddled, into the world and here I am today, slightly hairier but still generally bemused and befuddled. I have had many images in my mind over the past years of how my fiftieth birthday might be celebrated, but I can truly say that never in my wildest and most deranged fantasies could I have imagined the world in which it would be celebrated.

The Cheeky Bean in Shepton is officially the best cafe in the world.

Having said that, it was a fantastic day, and my wiser half had organised a guerilla cake drop the previous evening by our favourite local cafe, who have been baking a cake a day for local NHS workers, one of which we have sponsored. They found time in their busy schedule to bake a lemon and courgette cake for me, and I cannot begin to convey quite how spectacular it was to eat, truly a masterwork.

Do I get some? (He did)

The house was festooned with flowers and streamers and balloons, but my favourites were the wonderful origami butterflies that were everywhere in our front room as we settled down to some cake and fizz to celebrate the beginning of my second half-century. We spent a leisurely morning doing very little indeed as messages came in, including one from a friend who has been very ill with the virus but is now on the mend, a most welcome piece of news.

A Flock Descends Into The (Not Quite) Pentagonal Garden

In the afternoon we trekked across the fields to wave hello to my mother and stepfather from a suitable distance, having agreed our social distancing policy in advance, and then wandered back, saying hello to the horses, alpacas, goats, chickens and geese on the other side of the fence, also a couple of neighbours that we encountered (at a safe distance) along the way. As the clock ticked round to the actual moment of my fiftieth I was sitting back and listening, fizz in hand, to the final strains of my favourite symphony, Sibelius 7. Optimistic? Defeated? I think I shall never figure it out, though I reckon it is the former.

Sunlight and shadow

The evening was spent at the local cinema (our front room) catching up on a couple of films we did not quite get to see last year, and then it was time to turn in. Of physical presents there were few, and, in any case, I consider myself well supplied in terms of material goodness, but I wallowed in the messages that continued to come in while also pondering my first fifty years. So far I think that I have played a decent game, but there is much more still to be done even if this week really is time to sit back and reflect a little.