Saturday, July 20, 1996
My 53rd birthday celebrations were from my point of view certainly my best birthday celebrations ever up until that time. For a start, Jill gave a dinner party in honour of the day. The day fell on a Monday that year so we had the dinner party on the prior Sunday. We invited just John Henningham and his wife Helen. Henningham and I always have lots of laughs and lots to talk about so it would have been superfluous to invite others as well. Another factor was that Jill also knew Henningham independently of his being a friend of mine. That was because Henningham was a Professor of Journalism at the University of Qld. at the time and Jill had met him in connection with her administrative work there.
So the dinner was a very pleasant and relaxed affair. Jill of course set an immaculate table with lots of silver, crystal and white napery -- very traditional but also very stylish. She also served up food that was not only perfectly cooked but also perfectly presented.
Given Henningham's recent conversion to the Church of Rome, my theological interests and Jill's still recent ecclesiastical connections, the main topics of conversation were ecclesiastical and theological.
On the Monday itself I took Jill to The Clansmen restaurant. It has various Scottish features, a vaguely Scottish cuisine and is situated in a beautiful old colonial building at Annerley. It is a bit dear so I go there only on special occasions but when I do go I usually wear the kilt in honour of my shreds of Scottish ancestry (I have one ancestor with an Irish name [Joseph Kelly] who was born in Scotland and another ancestor with a Scottish name [Jane Burnside] who came from Ireland!).
On this occasion I wore full Highland formal dress: My red MacRae tartan kilt, white pleated dress shirt, black bow tie, black silk waistcoat, Prince Charlie jacket etc. Jill really loved it! I think "splendid" was her word for my attire on that occasion. Jill, of course dressed beautifully for the occasion too. She wore a shapely black classic suit she had bought from Harrods in London many years before and teamed it with a rather elaborate cream blouse that was also from Harrods. She has kept the same figure for many years and always buys classic styles so she can do that sort of thing. And since it was midwinter she put on her MINK jacket over it all to step outside the door. With her golden hair up in her usual chignon, with her fine white skin and her usual perfect grooming and poise she really looked as elegant a lady as any man has ever taken out.
Since I was well aware that I was only the third man ever to win the heart of that beautiful and confident woman and since I was equally aware that there was a brilliant brain behind the steady gaze of her pretty pale blue eyes I felt a very fortunate man indeed at that dinner. Having her let her hair down for me at home after the dinner was distinctly pleasing too!
As a final touch to the festivities, Jenny also gave me a birthday dinner on the Wednesday. She had most of the kids over (Paul was away) for the occasion so that was lovely too. Ken also came along and was good company as usual. Jenny interested us both by revealing that she had at long last worked out what she liked most in men: arrogance. That certainly accounted for me and Ken felt that he had been pretty arrogant in his youth too.
Anyway, it was certainly the first time that my birthday celebrations had stretched over so many days! I thought that being an old guy did have its compensations!