No, my English friends, this is not a celebration of the mighty Hellman’s condiment. As any fule know, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, and usually sees a spike in Tequila consumption across the United States. Today also marks the nine year anniversary of the thrilling encounter between my beloved Arsenal Football Club and Leeds United, which ended in a tense 2-1 victory for the mighty Gooners. I know this even though I wasn’t at Highbury that day, despite having a ticket for the game. The reason for my absence was that at 3.45 – just as half-time was approaching, in other words – our son Hallam was born.
It’s probably fair to say that he wasn’t too pleased about it. He really didn’t want to come out. By then he was two weeks overdue and Christina had been in labor for forty hours. He was so mad when he finally emerged that he yelled so loud that he gave himself a pneumothorax – a bubble on his lung – which meant he spent the next five days in the ICU.
Things have settled down since then.
Hallam is the gentlest and kindest boy I know. His obsessions come and go more quickly than anyone (even he) can keep up with, but he loves to draw and he loves to write stories. Poor soul, he wants to write books when he grows up. (Actually he’d like to publish the stuff he’s already written, so if anyone’s interested in a voluminous series of meta-fictional adventures featuring a blue furry monster and a squirrel with a Cockney accent, let me know.) He adores his little sister while doing a very creditable impression of a constantly irritated elder brother. He has inherited his father’s talent for worrying about everything, but I suppose nobody’s perfect.
And now he’s nine. Which, it struck me yesterday evening, is half way to adulthood. (This elicited much eye-rolling from Christina, who’s better at math than I am.) Yikes. We often remark that Hallam is old beyond his years, but this is ridiculous.
We’re going to have lunch with him today, and this evening we are have a “family pinata” – which I suppose is one way to secure a larger proportion of the goodies inside – and then we’re going to Fuddruckers for a grand feast.
It should be a good day. Happy birthday, Hallam.