My days of being able to be knocked down by a feather are past, but you could have knocked me down with a full-grown marrow, or possibly a crusty baguette, when I discovered that my birthday was the featured one in The Times’ birthday column on Thursday, at the bottom of the letters page, with a wee photo of me. (Sadly I can’t give the link, as Times Online is a subscription-only service.) I have no idea why they chose me, but as my erstwhile hero Richard Brautigan once wrote of a similar situation:
“It’s really something to have fame put its feathery crowbar under your rock and then upward to the light to release you, along with seven grubs and a sow bug.”
I was in Cambridge yesterday and was walking through my old college when the door of the Lodge opened, and out came one of the Fellows in his long academic gown. Spotting me, he called out, ‘Happy Birthday! You see I read the right newspapers!’ and strode off across the lawn, gown billowing behind him. I beamed and felt six feet tall for a moment, at least until the wind and rain beat me down to size.