On the 17th of this month, my baby will be nineteen years old, and I have started to think about what I’m going to get him.

Like last year we’re going to celebrate it in two parts because the 17th is on a Friday. So, on the 17th we will go out with Stephen and a bunch of Mark’s friends and have a jolly old time. Then on Sunday his parents will come here, and we’ll have a more sombre and dignified dinner. Auntie is coming as well to that.

The funny thing is that we have birthdays on the same day of the week this year, so we’ll do a carbon copy for mine in two months. On March 21st, a Friday, we’ll go out to a pub, and then mum and Auntie and the cousin from Brighton will gather for a dinner. Maybe we’ll be able to drag our Scottish cousin in London away from Soho for a bit of family exchanges.

Then there is the question of what to buy for Mark. What do you really buy for people? It’s a surprisingly difficult question each time. One wants it to be meaningful, yet not too expensive. It must be unique, and tailored for the birthday boy, yet not weird or strange.

The options diminish over the years as well because one ends up thinking along the same lines as the years before. I fear that if we’re still married at forty, I will have torn out my hair about what to get him by this time of year. The first year was easy; the second year was less easy; and now the third year it’s starting to be a bit difficult. Imagine what ten or twenty years will do to the process.