To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, September 15, 2015

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Finally, the day had dawned. It had taken, literally, months of planning. Of subterfuge, secrecy, and let’s be honest, down-right lying. But that’s the price you pay ... when a surprise party is afoot!

And it had all started so innocently, really. The Better Half’s dad was going to be 80. How nice, she thought, if she threw a surprise party for him. Just a modest affair, inviting a few friends and relatives from near and far, to join in his big day.

How nice indeed. And what could possibly go wrong?

Er ... where do you want to start?!

For one thing ... can YOU keep a secret? Really? Can you guarantee me, over a period of some weeks, with a big event coming up, that you won’t say a single thing, even if caught off-guard, to let the cat out of the bag? It’s a lot harder than you think, you know!

OK, then ... think of another dozen or so people. Can you be absolutely sure that not one of them will accidentally let something slip, either?

Then there’s the party itself to plan. All the arrangements and organisation involved is bad enough – without having to do it under the nose of the very person it’s all for, without them knowing a thing.

Luckily, The Better Half’s Dad said he “didn’t want a lot of fuss” about reaching 80. That’s handy. But, come on, he’s going to be 80, for heaven’s sake – there’s got to be some fuss, hasn’t there?! Doesn’t it look a bit suspicious if there isn’t any?!

Now, a non-secret part of the plan was that Favourite Nephew and his wife were coming to stay with Dad. “It must be because it’s my birthday that weekend,” he’d said to The Better Half. “Oh yes, I suppose it must be ...” she’d replied – as nonchalantly as she could, for someone who had planned the very visit in the first place!

I ask you, is it any wonder that by the end of all this, The Better Half was a gibbering wreck?!

So The Big Day arrives, it’s time to get the party started – but would you believe, Birthday Boy himself, He Who Is Always Early, still hadn’t arrived.

Meanwhile, everyone was waiting expectantly around the corner, cameras at the ready. No pressure or anything, then.

The Better Half and I were anxiously on the look-out for Favourite Nephew’s car ... only to realise that neither of us knew what it looked like!

Finally, Birthday Boy rocks up – and do you know what was the first thing he said to his daughter? “What are you doing here this early? You should still be at work!”

He was duly shepherded round the corner to where his guests were waiting ...

SURPRISE!!!

His first uttered reaction on seeing everyone was priceless. “Oh no – I was going to go home and watch the football!” he said.

We’re not sure how long it took for it all to sink in – especially the appearance of his son from Northern Ireland, with a granddaughter he hadn’t seen in years.

And, amazingly ... yes, it WAS all one big surprise to him.

But do you know what he did before we all went over to a friend’s house after the party? Nipped home first to record Strictly!