Sunday, 12 April 2015


The surprise was sprung.

My husband’s 50th birthday - a surprise house party, organised and executed with military precision and cunning - was a blast. And he didn’t suspect a thing, which is a minor miracle considering the kids were in on the secret.

The Tesco lorry delivered Oliver Reed Approved quantities of alcohol on Wednesday, all of which was duly stashed in a neighbour’s garage. I sneaked off for a buffet run to Costco on Friday, squashing the chilled stuff in my mum’s fridge before heading home, whistling innocently. I then cooked an enormous chilli that evening, calmly telling my bloke that I was going to ‘batch freeze’ some meals for us. (Enough to last 'til Christmas, if that had actually been true!).

My brother-in-law and family were ‘just visiting’, and we’d hatched a plan where we told the birthday boy we were all going out for a curry at 7.30pm (emphasising that our daughter had been duly primed and was suitably accepting of the adjusted meal and snack times, as it was Daddy's special birthday curry. We didn't tell him that her condition for accepting the subterfuge was that we would absolutely, definitely, indisputably, have a curry on Sunday night instead). 

Why didn't he and his bruv pop out to our local for a couple of pints beforehand? “Yes, Daddy, you go to the pub with Uncle Kevin,” suggested smallest child, smiling sweetly. POTUS (Poor Over-trusting Totally Unspecting Sod) concurred, they went, and it was all systems go. 

We had one hour for everyone to arrive, get tables and extra chairs set up outside, transfer booze across the road in a fireman’s chain, blow up balloons, stick up banners, unload food, and pour out the fizz for the toast - all before we got the call from the pub loos from brother-in-law saying: “The Eagle has landed, I repeat, the Eagle has landed.” (not a euphemism for his toilet activity - rather code for “We’re coming back”).

“He’s HERE!” yelled my boy, on lookout alert at his bedroom window. I opened the front door, bustled my husband in, to see his jaw drop as he was startled by a houseful of people yelling “Happy Birthday!”

My daughter, the one with Prader-Willi Syndrome, the one whose condition overlaps in many ways with autism, the one who finds it hard to put herself in someone else’s shoes, had not given the game away. This was the truly astonishing thing about the whole complicated charade. 

“I nearly told Daddy this morning, Mummy,” my girl told me. “But I remembered it was a surprise.” 

I looked at her, in her sparkly sequinned dress, with her sparkly nails and sparkly eyes, perfectly happy with her specially selected plate of healthy party food, chatting non-stop to our family and friends. 

It was my daughter, yet again, who had provided all the real surprises.

Video is Sparks - A Big Surprise

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