To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, March 17, 2015

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Surprise! Does that magic word herald a grand gesture that’s a lovely unexpected treat ... or can it leave you squirming with embarrassment?

Trouble is, it can be a bit of both. Obviously it would be heartless in the extreme not to appreciate all the effort that’s gone in to springing a big surprise for you.

On the other hand, if you’re not really a surprise kind of person, it can be a bit uncomfortable at best, or a case of: “Please can the ground just open up and swallow me!” at worst.

I am – it may be no surprise to hear – not really a surprise kind of person, I’m afraid. I guess some people are really spontaneous ... and some aren’t.

I prefer to know what’s in store, so I can prepare for it (or – in the case of a really good treat – look forward to it, quite honestly).

I remember a few years ago, when I turned 30. Oh, all right then – a few decades ago! A friend had decided to throw a surprise party for me, and invite a load of people – which was a very kind thing to do. Which made me feel all the worse when it didn’t really have the desired effect.

As luck would have it, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind on the night. And I was getting increasingly grumpy that I was being nudged towards doing something I didn’t particularly want to do ...So when I realised this was because a surprise party was awaiting me, I felt REALLY bad – to add to the embarrassment I felt anyway!

Like I said, some people just aren’t surprise people. I know, I know. Yes it was terrible of me. You think I don’t know that, when I still feel bad about it all these years later?!

And yes, thanks for reminding me, I do appreciate there is a lot of work involved to organise these things. In fact, if you’re throwing a surprise party and inviting a load of friends and colleagues, how in the world do you get all those people to keep quiet long enough so it remains a surprise?

A friend of The Other Half had a surprise party thrown for them, to which some people he hadn’t seen for a long time were invited. How nice. Except that by sheer bad luck, he happened to bump into one of them in the street, just days before the party.

So they were having a nice long chat, like you would, and then right at the end, the old friend, not thinking, said: “See you Saturday, then!”

See you Saturday? thought the chap. What on earth does he mean? Saturday’s my birthday ... oh ... wait a minute ...

So having tumbled that a surprise party awaits him, the poor blighter then has to put in an Oscar-winning performance, feigning shock and amazement when the surprise is sprung!

I’m mindful of this, because The Other Half is trying to plan a surprise party, right now. Obviously I can’t say much about it, in case it gives the game away ... No, of course it’s not for me, or it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, would it? Unless, I suppose, it was a double bluff .... Oh lor!