Monday, September 7, 2015

My Birthday, Stupid Friday, And Hitler Ganuff

*Ganuff is Yiddish for thief.

My birthday fell last week on Stupid Friday. I call it Stupid Friday because I have to drag DD out of bed and get her to school by 8 am when school finishes at 11:45 am. On Tuesdays they finish at 1 pm and the rest of the week at 2:20 pm. There is plenty of time during the week to tag those less than four hours onto other days and give us all a break on Fridays. Six days a week at school with only one day off a week is too much. Even the teachers only work a five day week. Rant over.

The previous Sunday I'd got a whatsapp from my friend Sarit. "What are you two doing on Friday night?" "Nothing planned yet. Want to do dinner together? Your place or mine? Share the cooking?" "So you're coming here for a birthday dinner." "OMG I'd completely forgotten it was my birthday this week!"

In truth, I'd probably blocked it out after what happened last year.

So on the Stupid Friday of my birthday I'd taken DD to school and returned home to try and get some work done at least. It takes time to get organised as I have to put on a load of laundry, do the dishes in the sink, check my emails, twitter, facebook, blog and reply to anything that needs replying to. I skim over The Times of Israel Online to check out the security situation in Israel and The Middle East. I skim over The DM Onlime to check out who's been sent home from school for wearing the wrong shoes. I make myself a coffee to sip whilst working and by that time the washing machine has finished so I have to empty it and hang up the wet clothes.

I'd just got to the bit where I open the college website when "WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP!" Skype calling. It was my mother presumably to wish me Happy Birthday. I answered the call only to see her clicking away with her mouse and keyboard and muttering about the sound not working. I hung up. "WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP!" I answered. More watching my mother trying to sort out her computer. I hung up. We repeated this another three times before I changed my Skype status to 'Do not disturb'.

So she sent me an email. Bad news I'm afraid. Howard died suddenly and unexpectedly in hospital on Wednesday. I was shocked. My father has 17 first cousins on his dad's side (my grandfather was one of nine siblings). The oldest of the 19 cousins was my late Aunty Rene but my dad, who was born 12 years after his sister, I always considered to be one of the younger cousins and Howard was about seven years younger than my dad.

I never met some of the cousins but I've known Howard all my life. He lived in our neighbourhood, his children went to our primary school with us, he sat next to my dad in synagogue (when they both went), he was my dad's accountant and my first financial advisor when I started playing on the stock market as an economics A'level student (we're talking penny shares here not high finance). Our families weren't close. A few years ago I was visiting London and out with a friend. She said to me, "You don't know your cousin S (Howard's daughter) very well do you?" "No, not now," I replied, "I probably wouldn't recognise her if I passed her in the street." My friend said, "you definitely wouldn't recognise her, she just walked past on the other side of the road." We had all grown up and moved away but Howard was Uncle Howard and he was family.

My dad lived with Howard and his older brother Arnold's family during the war so that he could continue going to school while his nervous mother and sister evacuated to Taunton for the duration. Their mother, my late great aunt, Aunty Lily, told the story of when Arnold's school were eventually evacuated and Howard, although much younger, was allowed to go too as he was with his big brother.

All the children were on the bus and all the mothers were crying as they waited to wave them off. They were told that the children would send their new addresses as soon as they'd been billetted with foster families. (I can't believe they didn't know at least which county or small town they were heading for but it never occured to me to ask.) Suddenly Howard poked his head out of the window and shouted, "we don't know where we're going Mum, but it's all cos of Hitler Ganuff!" And everyone laughed.

I got a fb message from my sister: Happy Birthday. Hope you're having a nice day.
Me: I just heard about Howard. Feeling very sad.
Miriam: Me too.

I no longer felt like doing any work and so I did what I always do when life gives you a jolt. I hit the bread bin. Three rounds of cheese and pickle sandwiches and a bag of crisps later I spent the rest of the morning playing Farm Heroes.

Dinner was lovely, thank you Sarit xxx.

Facebook delivered as only facebook can (after someone gave me the heads up that my privacy settings meant no one could write on my timeline and I quickly changed it).

The weekend was topped off with a long catch up on the phone with my friend Nicola from LA. Nicola and I were best friends in primary school when we were six and continued to secondary school together until her family moved to LA when we were 14. Nicola told me that she checks to see if I've posted on the blog every day when she takes her coffee break at work. No pressure there then. :~).

A different birthday from last year with some lovely bits, but not best I've had.


  1. Oh, I'm sorry for your loss - I'm glad you managed some nice bits to your birthday too.

  2. Yay for your friend Sarit doing you a nice birthday dinner and I'm really sorry to hear about Uncle Howard. I hate the realisation that our parents are getting older. Mich x

    1. I know, you've hit the nail on the head on both accounts.

  3. From Margie in Toronto - Happy Birthday to a fellow Virgo! It's good to have friends - isn' it? So lovely of Sarit to do dinner.
    And cheese and pickle sandwiches - YUM - one of my favourites too!

  4. I'm sorry for your loss, but glad that you had a better day than last year, overall xx

    1. It was't hard to beat last year's experience, LOL. Thanks.