You only turn half a century once in a lifetime, so I decided to have a big party. Because of my peregrination I had friends here, there and everywhere whom I wanted to invite, and the only way I could do it was to organise an international conference. This brought in people from the USA and Australia, and it was a bit easier with Russia and Finland. I had to book the venue a year in advance because it was a castle, the Royal Horse Guard Mess in Stockholm. Possible because of Staffan's connections in military music. There was a reservation in the booking contract that if the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces wanted the venue at short notice he would have priority. We took the risk. We also had to get special permission to take foreign citizens into Swedish military territory.
The catering at the Mess helped me to compose the menu and plan the schedule. “Birthday? Count with at least four hours at table”. She was right. We started with arrival drinks in the magnificent rooms, and then sat down at table in a huge hall with marble columns and crystal chandeliers. There were speeches and songs and sonnets written and performed by friends and family, and I laughed and wept and laughed again. There were people from all the many periods of my life, my former teachers, my former students, my present colleagues, my co-authors, my travel companions, my family and my Cucumber Mum, a Swedish children's author who had adopted me as her “sweet little cucumber”. The food was superb, and there was a surprise desert that I had not ordered. There was dancing to a band in old-fashioned army uniforms. When the clock struck one, nobody wanted to go home.
I cannot imagine a grander birthday. Thank you all who made it such a wonderful day. Peace over those who are longer among us.