Last month I fell in love. I fell in love with Midwives and with Edinburgh. The combination contrived a fitting warm-up act to my birthday celebrations. To be specific, that birthday celebration.
Edinburgh is a place through which I have only surfed, specifically at Hogmanay long ago when I was Mrs McAllister, accompanying Mr McAllister to first-foot in Largo, Fife. I had only seen this stately city on the cusp of the New Year, in the throes of crazy Celtic carousing. In April, the place is a different proposition altogether; quieter, brighter albeit with remarkable architectural drama. I explored it more thoroughly this time; Edinburgh is a great beauty.
I stayed at the Roxburghe, thus far the most recommended hotel to enter the Forte Medical Business Travel Directory. Good value, exemplary staff, small but perfect room, crisp cotton sheets and Oh Joy! A bathroom bereft of previous guests’ hair.
Dinner with Nephew took my first evening. An aspiring comedian, this young man has moved to Edinburgh to make his dream come true, in support of which he is working a 9-5 day-job. Nephew is somewhat precariously balanced on the first rungs of success; the recipient of excellent reviews to date, he is honing his craft and has bagged some slots at the Fringe. He is bright but dark, funny in a way that twists the soul. But you laugh. You can’t help yourself. Me? I wept with mirth; I love his humour. I am Proud Aunt.
After dinner (and a largely successful “dry” runway to my birthday), I meandered into the hotel bar: “I could murder a Scotch.” The bar tender smiled and gesticulated across shelves and shelves of bottles, each containing its own unique tint of liquid gold; that honeyed, dewy stuff of which the Scots are justly proud. “Which one?” she asked, with gentle equanimity. “Oh. Yes. I’d forgotten where I was. Sorry.” Lovely staff, see?
Up early then, to the MaMa Conference, a gathering of Midwives and Champions of Good Birth, where we had taken a space from which to promote the Peezy msu to the invaluable people who help bring new life into the world. All pregnant women have to provide regular urine samples and the difficulty of delivering this is commensurate with the growing size of Mother-to-Be. Yet it is right now, that an accurate sample is absolutely essential. An undetected Urinary Tract Infection can lead to pre-term birth or a low-weight baby and has been linked to increased risk of foetal or newborn mortality. Peezy msu seems to be an essential piece of kit and the Midwives present seemed to agreed. Sample packs were dispensed, names given and orders taken. The cost of a 90p kit was deemed by all to be worth the myriad mother-and-baby health and hygiene benefits. And so say all of us.
That evening, picture if you will around 100 Midwives and Guests gathering for dinner and Ceilidh… of the few men present, one threw some rock ‘n’ roll shapes with his MidWife, another kept himself quietly aside whilst a third performed handstands. During dinner we chatted animatedly – these are gutsy and interesting women. Once the music began we were on the floor and to a lady we danced. Oh how we danced; nifty moves and bonhomie filled the room. Had an outsider witnessed the goings on, they would have assumed implicit drug use. And they would have been correct … one free drug floated us all. Take my word for it and beware: group Oestrogen is powerful stuff indeed.
And so it came to pass that on this remarkable female high I returned to London, and to my 50th Birthday celebrations, which took place the very next day.
I awoke with both Girls in the house, and Beautiful Boyfriend by my side. On waking, BB presented a bottle of Bollinger, breakfast in bed and a pendant crafted by his own fair hand; a Taurus to decorate my décolletage. A lovelier gift I could not have imagined or expected. Yet there was so much to overwhelm from him, from My Girls and friends throughout the day, all of it suffused with love. Thank you all. Very much.
The hours progressed in a blur. Nicky at 3Thirty made my hair bounce; David Eyre orchestrated his signature, perfect Paella and Tapas for the late lunch attended by 50 friends, each invited for their friendliness, kindness and just-being-there-for-me, across the myriad highs and lows of my life thus far.
Ali, the Tornado managed the day whilst Exocet Giorgia excelled in her chosen profession, producing a veritable solar system of perfect cakes and bonbons upon which we feasted post-Paella. Graham Farnworth (he’s the one in the middle) arrived complete with guitar to deliver Bluesy Blues (a coup, given he’s booked until next year) and around him we chatted, drank and danced. We eventually decamped chez-Forte for an after party. The final guest was shown out at 4.30am and I retired to bed, older and no wiser.
The upshot of The Last Week in April was an extraordinary affirmation of every aspect of my lovely life. God bless daughters, boyfriend, birthday, business – and my lucky stars.
© Giovanna Forte