What is wrong with some people? Will they never be happy?

Let’s be honest people are strange.

Take V, for instance. When we first got together, he had a thing about his birthday. We used to go to his parents. He would arrive, expecting presents by the barrow-load. One time, we arrived about 11 a.m. No one was home. He got so angry. Why weren’t they there to celebrate his birthday? How dare they just go out! We left and went home, I think – although maybe we didn’t. All I remember is the anger. I tried to explain that as he hadn’t told them when he was coming, how were they to know to be there at that time. But there was really no placating him.

When we had the computer business, there was this woman, A, who worked closely with him. She was married to L. Every year, it didn’t matter what L tried to do, birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries were fraught with danger. For him it must have felt like going over the top at the Western Front!

Every time was the same. He would try and surprise her with something and every time he would be rebuffed as it wasn’t what she wanted or was too cheap or something. And, amazingly (because I would have given up after a couple of years), he went to some great lengths to try to please her.

But, whatever he did it simply wasn’t good enough. V & I (for he had got over his thing by then) would gasp at the whole thing.

And now I have S, my colleague. Actually, in many ways, she reminds me of A. The ‘show’ is the thing not the substance.

And, so, tomorrow, is her birthday. It’s quite an important one and it’s quite obvious that this is a milestone she doesn’t want to be at. For a few weeks there have been odd murmurings from her about how it’s going to be terrible. Her husband, she thought, was trying to pull off a surprise party. She was complaining about the people he would probably invite and she spoke to him several times about who she didn’t want at the party.

Eventually, last week, it was agreed that they would go out for a meal – just the two of them. But she’s not happy with that either. I think that, secretly, she wanted a surprise party but was preparing herself to complain about was there and who wasn’t there.

And the present has been an issue too, apparently with him suggesting that she goes choose some shoes – which is obviously not good enough since shoes do not last forever – or even a couple of seasons!

ut, then, she tells me this morning that her birthday is always like this and her husband is always wanting to do something and it’s always a disaster. Last year was some restaurant with some friends but it was a terrible restaurant and the food was not good, etc.

And her husband always wants to do something on her birthday because his is in the first week of August – and they are away at the seaside then, in France, where they have a house. And so, he can’t celebrate his birthday in the way he would like and tries to muscle in on hers. It’s been like this for over 20 years, she says.

Now he has some people coming round on Thursday night. Apparently she told him that she wasn’t cooking and he said that it was not necessary because they would have cake. She asked him who was invited and, apparently it is some friends of his and some people from the block of flats. So she asked if a certain person was coming and he said no and she said that they were the only people that she really got on with and if he was going to invite people from the block then she would invite them and he didn’t think this was a good idea and she said that she is having nothing to do with it and she was going to make it quite plain that this is NOT a birthday party and certainly NOT a birthday party for HER.

And there are times when she just needs a good slap to get her to come to her senses.

After all, what’s wrong with sharing the birthday with him? They will be in France when it’s his and this, being Italy, probably means he has always missed out on birthdays with friends because it’s always in the holidays – the same way as F did/does.

And I know that she will never be happy. Everything will always be wrong – even if this year is worse because of the impending five-zero.

But, like I used to feel sorry for L, I feel sorry for him. In a way. To be honest, this should have been knocked on the head from the start. This kind of crap you don’t need when you’re trying to do your best for someone.

It just annoys me!