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Kerry McLean: Why not many men can hold a candle to my hubby Ralph on his 50th birthday

Kerry and husband Ralph, who will soon celebrate his 50th birthday
Kerry and husband Ralph, who will soon celebrate his 50th birthday

By Kerry McLean

If you look towards the north coast on Wednesday night this week you may just see a bright light illuminating the sky. It won't be down to an early appearance of the Northern Lights or evidence that the light pollution we hear so much about has reached record levels. Instead, it will simply be the luminescence of many candles burning brightly on top of my husband's birthday cake because this week, my lovely Ralph celebrates his 50th birthday.

The kids are insisting that their daddy's cake has the correct number of candles for such a special occasion, so plans are afoot to create a masterpiece large enough to accommodate them all while remaining a thing of beauty and mouth-wateringly tasty.

Large bakes I can do, but presentable and edible? We'll see.

The cake is the easy bit but trying to figure out what to get him for a present has been a complete nightmare.

For most of the year I'm very grateful for the fact that my husband is one of those people who's more than happy with his lot in life.

As long as he has the children in the house, a handful of records to listen to and, ideally, a Liverpool FC win to celebrate, he's a contented soul.

But there are times, like birthdays and Christmas, when I wish he'd be a bit more demanding, when he'd turn to me and say, 'Here's what I really want to make my life complete'.

And if that special something came with a small, reasonable price tag, that would make all my wishes come true.

Instead, when probed for pointers on the perfect pressie, he always tells me not to bother, or just to get him a box of sweets or some socks… because nothing says I love you and I've put my heart and soul into this gift like hosiery.

So, you can see how coming up with something he'll like and that will mark such a significant birthday has been a struggle but, to paraphrase the advert, he's worth it.

The year he was born (1969) was a pretty momentous one. It was the year when man first went walkabout on the moon, when 400,000 rock fans rolled up to Woodstock to watch performers like The Who, Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix take to the stage and when we had the very diverse but equally superb TV creations, Sesame Street and Monty Python's Flying Circus appear on our television sets.

It was the end of an eventful decade and in those last 12 months of the 60s, there were seismic shifts in politics, technology, music and fashion. And yet somehow, out of the midst of this mayhem, came my wonderfully calm and easy-going husband.

I have to say that if you spotted him in the street you'd never think he was about to celebrate his half centenary.

Yes, it's true that I can no longer see things further away than the end of my nose or closer than my hand but I have wonderful glasses that cater for both.

I can assure you, I take regular stock of his visage and I can confirm that he still has the youthful good looks that attracted me all those years ago, with a wee bit of added ruggedness to sweeten the pot.

He's walking evidence that ageing is unfair when it comes to the sexes.

The lines around his eyes make him look distinguished, mine just make me look like a road map.

While many of my friends have partners who've not coped overly well with getting older, I'm relieved to say that he's not the sort of man to go through a midlife crisis.

Peers, both male and female, have gone through significant birthdays, only to emerge on the other side with a new sports car, an electric guitar, a tattoo or, in a couple of cases, newly tightened faces.

But Ralph and I have found the perfect solution to save us from any of these attempts at regaining our youth. Simply, have two almost teenagers and a three-year-old in the house.

Then you will have neither enough spare time nor cash to spend worrying about ageing.

Happy birthday Ralph - here's to the next 50!

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