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Spanish Secrets: Breakfast In Spain And An Indian For Tea

“1966 was a remarkable year in English history. Not only did Sir Alf and the boys show the rest of the world how to play football, but a little- known couple from Huddersfield surpassed even that marvellous achievement.

On 17 May 1966 Geoff and Jennifer Kidd produced Melanie Jayne

On the fortieth anniversary of this miracle, I’d like to invite you to celebrate this wonderful event with me and other much loved family and friends at the Nawaab Indian restaurant in Huddersfield…’’

Craig Briggs planned a splendid birthday surprise for his wife, Melanie, which involved a traumatic journey from Galicia, Spain, to Yorkshire, England.

Many people claim that life begins at 40. Last Wednesday it was the turn of my wife Melanie, to reach this milestone. It’s been clear to me for some time that Melanie wasn’t looking forward to this metaphorical reincarnation.

To distract her from the onset of middle age and the ever-increasing number of grey hairs, I decided to organise a surprise birthday party. I was relying on family and friends to make it an event to be remembered with joy and happiness.

The choice of venue was easy. Melanie’s love of Indian cuisine saw to that.

In great secrecy I organised a three-day trip from our home in Spain to Huddersfield in England, there to eat an authentic Indian curry.

The invitations were despatched:

Dear Guest

1966 was a remarkable year in English history. Not only did Sir Alf and the boys show the rest of the world how to play football, but a little- known couple from Huddersfield surpassed even that marvellous achievement.

On 17 May 1966 Geoff and Jennifer Kidd produced Melanie Jayne.

On the fortieth anniversary of this miracle, I’d like to invite you to celebrate this wonderful event with me and other much loved family and friends at the Nawaab Indian restaurant in Huddersfield on Wednesday 17 May at 8:00pm.

Melanie is blissfully unaware of the clandestine arrangements taking place to make this a “Special Surprise”. With this in mind I require your utmost discretion.

Warmest regards Craig

On the evening of the 16th with our dog Jazz safely despatched to a friend, I began to unfold my carefully prepared plans.

“You’ll need clothing for two nights, three days”. I declared.

Without question Melanie chose her wardrobe and I packed the case. Summery blouses, shorts and sandals are not quite the required attire for Yorkshire in mid- May, but my insistence on something warmer might have given the game away.

The next morning, with the sound of the alarm still ringing in our ears, we began our drive to the airport at Santiago de Compostela. After checking in, we wandered into the restaurant for breakfast. Bizarrely, Melanie chose to start the day with a large slice of Spanish tortilla and a chilled bottle of water.

With the obligatory body search completed, we ambled to the departure lounge.

Everything was going to plan.

“Ryanair flight FR863 to London Stansted, is delayed by 30 minutes,’’ crackled over the PA system.

Not to worry we had plenty of time. Less than 10 minutes later another message echoed through the building.

“Ryanair flight FR863 to London Stansted, is delayed by 55 minutes”.’’

Murmurs of annoyed anxiety rumbled around the departure lounge.

An hour and a half late, the plane finally took-off.

Baggage collection at Stansted went smoothly. The Hertz car rental didn’t. I should have suspected problems when the one staff member at the counter shouted into the back.

“Skippy, can you serve this customer.’’

Half expecting a kangaroo to come leaping forward, I was delighted when it turned out to be a rather nervous looking man. On reflection, I think the Australian marsupial may well have done a better job. After numerous failed print-outs of necessary documentation, we eventually got under way.

The car was brand new; a little green Ford. Unfortunately, whatever get-up-and-go it was meant to have, had most certainly, got-up-and-gone. Progress was slow, painfully slow and time was ticking away.

The weather on our arrival was quite pleasant for England. By the time we’d travelled 150 miles north, the patchy cloud had been replaced with a menacing grey blanket and tiny droplets of rain had begun to fall. Before long the wind had picked up and the car’s windscreen wipers were struggling to cope with the torrential rainfall.

Our delayed flight resulted in our journey coinciding with rush-hour traffic departing from the once great steel city of Sheffield. Brightly lit motorway signs alerted us to the inevitable traffic congestion.

We arrived at our destination, the George Hotel in the heart of Huddersfield, with less than an hour to spare. After a quick shower and clothing change we marched down to reception, borrowed an umbrella and began the short walk to the Indian restaurant.

What a strange pair we must have looked, paddling through the streets of Huddersfield fighting the driving wind and rain, dressed in light summery clothes and wearing sandals.

Watching the surprise on Melanie’s face and her emotional delight on seeing family and friends made the trials and tribulations of our chaotic journey pale into insignificance.

Many happy returns.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs

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