I’m going to a gig tomorrow night.
Actually, that’s not correct.
We are going to a gig tomorrow night.
We are going all the way down south to that Birmingham.
To see Elbow.
How are you going all the way down south to that Birmingham to see Elbow (I hear you cry)?
Well, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car, one day in November, when the driver took a hand off the wheel and thrust a numbered envelope at me.
I opened it (as I had opened at least half a dozen numbered envelopes over the last 90 minutes).
And inside were two tickets to see Elbow.
What was in the other numbered envelopes (I hear you ask)?
So very many things.
The first envelope contained a different sort of ticket.
A ticket to ride.
As we pulled in through some anonymous-looking gates in the middle of the Leicestershire countryside, I clutched my ticket for a half-hour private ride around the sky with East Midlands Helicopters.
Forty minutes later, and less than an hour after I’d been given the first envelope, I was airborne.
1,000 feet above the Nottinghamshire countryside.
We crossed over the village where we live, banked to starboard over the house, then straightened up before turning to port and heading across the countryside before reaching the centre of Nottingham.
We had a good look at Nottingham Castle, Trent Bridge cricket ground, and the two Nottingham football venues.
Despite being early November, the sunny, spring-like, cloud-free day gave us a fantastic view of the countryside for miles around.
It was a stunning birthday gift.
But it didn’t end there.
Back on terra firma other envelopes were thrust at me.
There was the lottery scratchcard (which bore me a fiver).
There were other lottery scratchcards (that steadfastly refused to bear anything).
There was an invitation to lunch at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant.
And the tickets to see the Iron Maidens (later this year).
There were the tickets to see It’s A Wonderful Life in full Cinemascope on the very big screen.
I could go on with the list.
And on and on, with the list.
I felt very proud, honoured, and a little embarrassed, at the end of that early November day.
I still do.
Last year was an emotional time.
And I had the best (and most emotional) birthday, to cap a heck of an emotional year.
Thank you, Sam.