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My wife celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday. Yea, Therese!

It had long been her intention to ‘make it another big bash’, after her 50th party rave in Nassau. That had been blessed by rain that never dampened people’s spirits, while the real stuff flowed with wine and champagne, and all graced with food that Caribbean people love, with its strong Bahamian twist. Friends had gathered from far and wide, and airline business got a boost.

Without going into details of the plans for 2020, several venues came up in Europe, Africa and the Bahamian Family Islands. Then, the spoiler of all spoilers arrived on a plane from ‘Corona’.

“Hello, anybody locked down at home?”

So, scaling down began as the problems of international travel increased, till the plan was left as just a mainly family event in Nassau.

Badoom! Corona said “Not this time, baby!”

The Bahamas went into all-island weekend lockdown again in late-July. Using that now-common COVID phrase, out of an abundance of caution, She cancelled flights her and our daughter—I’d already decided not to travel, as I am in a ‘more vulnerable’ category, and thoughts went on how to ‘party’ in a COVID19Life way. I threw out the idea that the refreshments could be supplied and people celebrate remotely.

“Hi, I’m Zoom. Going my way?”

I wasn’t on the planning committees, but the many skilled organizational hands that my wife has as siblings were, I’m sure, hammering away at ideas.

So, as the day approached, I say goodie bags arrive at the house with ‘Hip hip, hooray’, then I saw boxes of what looked like Champagne delivered. Hmmm. I went off to play golf at the weekend, and got a message that my playing partner needed to stop by on our way back, as there was ‘something for him’. I’d heard plans to bake a poppy seed cake, so I primed him to get one of those. Well, I hope he wasn’t disappointed to get a bag with a bottle of bubbly, instead, and instructions to join the celebration.

So, on Monday, a ‘courier’ was despatched with filled bags and envelopes to deliver. I was not a recipient, so I guess the details were included along with the number of the offshore bank account for the birthday contributions. Whatever.

Tuesday morning came, and in a moment of weak romanticism, I decided to make coffee and take it up to wake up the birthday girl, along with a cupcake delivered along with others in a box the night before. I met her at the top of the stairs as she got up early…planning to play tennis. Quick hug and off she went to sit down and enjoy her birthday ‘breakfast’. She, then, headed off to tennis about 5.50am.

I just trundled along till our daughter surfaced early, at about 7, asking “Where’s, Mummy?” I told her and she was glad that time was on her side to whip up a surprise breakfast.

There we were in the kitchen as she and our housekeeper rustled up some fruit and a cooked offering. Her mother came back at about 7.15, and, seeing the plans, headed for a shower.

“Earthquake! Did you feel it?” I yelled, as my swivel counter stool shook and I gripped the counter. Two sets of blank stares met mine. It was about 7.30. They had not felt a thing, while I had shaken for about 3-5 seconds. ODPEM later confirmed that we’d had a 4.8 earthquake, centered in Mile Gully, Manchester.

While ‘Mutt and Jeff’ looked blank, the birthday girl had felt it while in her birthday suit under the hot water: “Did you feel the Earth move?” She yelled from on high. “I wont say; our daughter is listening,” I replied 🙂

She came down and enjoyed her breakfast, then was off, for a hair appointment and ‘meetings’. She came back around 9.30, phone in hand and headphones in…”I’m on a Zoom call…” trailed off upstairs.

The rest of the day, she was busy, from what I heard, as Spanish and English voices swirled around.

Fast forward, we had an early dinner, together, and waited for the appointed hour, 6.30pm.

Cutting to the chase, her brother had set up a Zoom birthday party and the guest list was long; it reached over 50 by the time the call was ending at about 9pm.

As we say, the list was full of the ‘usual suspects’, which included friends from our many homes in different countries, but mainly Barbados and the USA, with a good crop of Jamaicans on the island, plus a Jamaican friend who shared the birthday with my wife, but had decided to head back to England last week to sort out some business. For him, the party started just after 1am and he stayed the full course, to after 3am, UK time.

As is often the case with these calls, a few glitches needed sorting out to get everyone access, but they were minor.

We were scrolling furiously on an iPad to see the many guests, while her brother-MC had set his feed up on his TV in Nassau and could see all at once. We need to figure that out.

Lots of happy faces and voices and well-wishing came, and a few late arrivals soon caught up.

It’s harder to manage people in these online sessions, especially if the ‘rules of engagement’ aren’t set out at the start. But, we are mostly polite and ‘raised hands’ to speak and there wasn’t too much cross-talk. The toasts were nice, and a lot of acknowledgement of my lady as a modern ‘rock star’ in her field and as a representative of her country and the region. Behind every great woman, there’s a man glued to football on the TV: I play my part 🙂

She’s fresh off a several-page glam spread in the Jamaica Observer:

The pandemic has forced many changes to ordinary life, and this is yet another example. 50-odd people ‘go’ to a ‘party’ on their computer or mobile device. The drink and fete and dont have to worry about driving home after, or getting stopped during curfew—ours restarted earlier last week from 7pm, instead of 11. We didn’t need to be like some ‘celebrities’ have done recently and have people risk their health and hug and mingle and not bother with any health protocols except as an initial nicety.

Much as I like lots of modern technology, especially for fast and wide communication, I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a Zoom-aphobe, not yet fully at ease with the clustered images. But, I stayed the course, last night. So proud of myself! 🙂

The birthday girl crashed about 10pm and is still in the Land of Nod. That’s how to do it!

Whether ‘60 is the new 40’ has any meaning, we shall see. I hope she doesn’t have to work another 25 years to prove the point, though 🙂