Will you still need me, will you still feed me…

I expect your card got lost in the post, or maybe your special gift from Amazon will be delivered later today, but whatever the reason for nothing arriving yet I just wanted to say thank you for remembering that today is my birthday.

There are certain dates that we all note and celebrate together; dates like 25th December or 5th November. There are other dates that are only special to us and our loved ones.  Maybe it’s the date of your first kiss, or an anniversary or in my case the 18th May…because it’s my birthday.

When you’re a kid you can’t wait for the day to come.  Presents, parties and another year closer to being a grown up. Before I go any further I have a message for the kids, growing up, it’s a scam…don’t do it. 

Anyway, then you get to the stage when you have to stop and think and do some mental arithmetic to work out exactly how old you are.  The next stage is when you do your best to ignore the passing years and say you’re in your 50’s, or 60’s, or 70’s and remain a little vague.  Finally, if you’re lucky enough to get there, you reach your 80’s and beyond and you can’t wait to tell people how old you are in the same way you did when you were 6,7 or 8!

Over time your priorities change as well, which can lead to problems for loved ones.  Buying presents for children is quite straight forward.  You ask them, they tell you.  Maybe in the past you might have had to take a trip to town to visit Woolworths.  These days you go online, press a few buttons and then wait for the van to arrive.

In my day teenagers wanted a new record or album. Maybe that’s a bit more difficult in a world of streaming and YouTube.  Clothes are always a safe bet but it’s probably best to get the exact brand, colour and size before parting with cash just in case it’s not quite right and you ruin the day.

In my twenties my in laws used birthdays and Christmas’s to stock up on my store of tools.  An electric drill was followed by an electric planer etc.  It got to the stage where even they ran out of appliances to buy me.  When they did eventually ask me what I would like for my birthday I found myself saying, somewhat ungratefully…’Nothing useful!’.

I must admit that although I’m sure you remembered today was my birthday I wouldn’t really want to have to remind you as that would seems a little, well presumptuous.  Then of course if you didn’t know it was my special day and we didn’t mark it together then I’d probably be disappointed.

This is exactly what happened on my 27th birthday.  I was on a tour of South East Asia with Max Boyce. On the 18th May 1987 I woke up in the Holiday Inn on Kowloon overlooking Hong Kong Island. You have to remember this was before the days of easy worldwide communications, so I greeted the day with no birthday greetings, or messages or cards or presents. No one knew and I didn’t feel I could tell them. Although we had a great day on Hong Kong Island before playing a gig at the China Fleet Club, and even though I was now a grown up aged 27, I still felt sad, maybe even miffed.

We arrived back at the hotel and one of the band phoned home.  It was during the course of the chat that they were told that someone ought to wish Mal a happy birthday. ‘What it’s Mal’s birthday…we have to tell Max!’.

Then the whole day changed.  Max spoke to the Tour organiser who ordered the whole party to meet in the lobby in 10 minutes.  Then we walked across Kowloon to a very special Vietnamese Restaurant and Karaoke Bar.

I don’t think the locals could quite believe or understand what was going on.  With an entourage that included Max and Eve Graham from the New Seekers it soon became obvious that we would take over the Karaoke for the evening.  I found myself being supplied with beer and chips as I sat at the Hammond Organ while one by one our party took it in turn to perform. 

Eve Graham took to the microphone and sang ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’, her worldwide hit.  Maybe the crowd just didn’t recognise that this was the lady who sang the original song but to be honest apart from a ripple of applause she didn’t set the room alight.

Then up stepped Mr Boyce. I don’t know if he actually said he was Tom Jones or whether the crowd mistook his Curly hair and Welsh accent for Tom but with his shirt unbuttoned to his naval I can understand any confusion.  That confusion wasn’t helped by Max choosing to sing ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ for his Karaoke song.  His world class performance came with pelvic gyrations seldom seen outside of Glynneath Rugby Club.

At the end of the performance the crowd erupted and that was the last beer or chips any of us paid for all night.

There then followed performances of Calon Lan, Cwm Rhondda and Delilah, which really did sound the same and as the sun started to rise on the old British Colony we found ourselves stumbling back to our hotel for a few hours sleep before heading to the airport and Seoul.

As for this year, I’m not too sure what the day has in store.  It starts with a breakfast radio show and this afternoon I’m looking after the lounges for the Osprey’s final home game of the season. I expect there’ll be a few surprises and maybe phone calls from kids who live away if they remember and that’s fine. I might sound like a bit of a birthday grump but its all an act.  Today’s my birthday so let’s have a party!!

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