Aunty Jean’s best glasses

Many, many years ago when our children were small, aged eight and six, we lived next door to a very dear neighbour, a lovely soul; she and the children were very fond of each other and they always called her Aunty Jean. It was coming up to Jean’s eightieth birthday and she was not having a party as such, just a little get together at home for her close friends and family and then out for a nice meal somewhere.

Before the day of the celebration, I went round and told Jean that we would park our car round the corner so her guests coming from away could use our drive and park right across it if necessary. She thanked me and said she was sorry we weren’t invited to share her happy day – I responded that of course we didn’t mind, it was for her nearest and dearest! The day arrived and we put a card from us and another from the children through her letter box and left some flowers on the doorstep.

The following day, there was a knock on the door and there stood Jean with a tray and two cut glasses of champagne! There was some cake for us and the children and she thanked us for the cards, flowers and parking! How kind! We had been delighted to help her day go smoothly. I took the tray and as I shut the door I told the children to be really careful, these were Aunty Jean’s best crystal glasses, they were very special, and they were not to touch them. We had our birthday champagne in the sitting room with the glasses on a side table, and again we warned the children to be careful and not dash about because we didn’t want to risk breaking the special glasses.

The children were very good and all was well… until I was washing up. Somehow, I don’t know how, I caught one of the glasses on the tap and no!!! It shattered. Jean had gone away for a few days, so I took the remaining glass and went all round Oldham where we then lived, trying to find a replacement. No luck, and I went to Manchester and searched all the shops, until at last, at Kendall Milne (the poshest shop in the city) I found a glass which was very similar – not exactly the same, but good enough. The only problem was, I had to buy a set of four.

When Jean returned home I went round with the glasses and was invited in for a cup of tea as her son and daughter were there with their partners. I had tea and birthday cake and I told the tale, apologising most sincerely for the broken glass, and hoped the replacement would be suitable enough. Jean looked at the two glasses, and then burst out laughing.

Apparently the glasses she had which I had thought were special, had been given away free at a petrol station once she had collected sufficient tokens! I did feel a little silly, but I was pleased I had replaced the cheap glass with an expensive one – and she said it would be her special birthday glass! I haven’t heard from Jean for a while, if she is still with us it will be her one hundredth birthday next year!

Happy birthday Jean!

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