Many happy returns to my aunt, Rene. Just had a very lovely birthday tea with my two aunts and my Mum and Dad. My partner couldn't make it as he had a nasty cold and sore throat (and didn't want to pass on germs to venerable old ladies. He has since gone out to see Immortal Technique, a politically aware rapper, in Bristol.)
My Mum was the only one of four sisters to leave home, so I had frequent visits to Gloucestershire as a child to stay with my doting aunts and grandmother. I used to go to work with Rene, who had a job at the Gas Office in George Street (now the Cotswold Care Hospice charity shop), as had her father before her. I remember all the display cookers and fires, being allowed to count the money and do sums on the adding machine (all buttons and levers, printing onto a paper roll), the brown lino with cracks in the upstairs office and loo and putting the takings in the night safe in the wall of the bank. She would show off her favourite (only) niece to all the customers coming in to pay their gas bills (no direct debit or internet banking). I thought it was wonderful.
So, Happy Birthday Rene and I will come and see you more often this year.