If the government did birthdays…


It would leak a range of different birthday present ideas to the BBC ranging from a plastic comb to a brand new Ferrari. The BBC would present them all as birthday facts.

Sources would variously claim that celebrating your birthday would require a change in the law or could be organised by way of informal collaboration between your friends. Days before the event you learn that your birthday is to be “co-designed” by “the birthday assembly”, a group of your dullest relatives.

You would be told you could invite anyone you like to your party but not all of them would get a balloon and a slice of cake. Older and less well-off friends are allowed but only if they don’t come into the house or ask for anything.

You are guaranteed a birthday card for the next ten years but it would come with money for only the first five. What happens after that depends on how well you’ve performed against a range of anniversary related targets and key birthday indicators.

Your birthday money would be allocated through a variety of funding routes with some of it going to friends and relatives to give you throughout the year, as long as you complete all stages of the application process and meet the numerous assurance requirements.

You can buy anything you like with your birthday money as long as the shop selling it is on the birthday procurement framework, the cost and complexity of which is so great that all the small interesting shops are out of scope. You’re left with Tesco Clubcard points and a B&Q voucher, but you can have a lot of fun with a frozen lasagne and an electric drill.

Your parents say you can do what you like on your birthday. They set out the rules for doing what you like in a manual running to several hundred pages. The day before your birthday, they demand a detailed plan for how you intend to do what you like on your next 10 birthdays.

All of your qualifying friends will sit down to a birthday tea based on a limited menu of chopped vegetables and grains provided by Health Education England followed by reduced sugar jelly and dairy free ice cream. There are no paper hats because your parents pledged to eradicate them by 2024, but there are digital placemats from Uncle Matthew and crayons kindly donated by NHS Horizons.

After tea a very senior relative will lead the guests in a chorus of Happy Birthday followed by a motivational chant of “we can do this” to get everyone in the right frame of mind for the mandatory games.

These include old favourites such as pass the parcel, in which the idea is to move the parcel as quickly as possible from one guest setting to the next. It can end in tears when transfers of the parcel are delayed, but you can always blame the people in the garden.

Musical chairs is also fun – whoever is left without a chair when the music stops will get a job at NHS Improvement or a major management consultancy when they grow up. Every few birthdays the chairs will be moved around just for the hell of it.

At the end of the day your parents announce that in future your birthday is to be integrated with those of all the other kids in the street, whether you like them or not. And for the sake of efficiency, Christmas will be held on the same day.

They hope you had a nice time. You nod gratefully.

Editor: Julian Patterson


Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Julian Patterson.