I am thirty-eight today, and will continue to be - with increasing degrees - until a day before this time next year! I don't mind ageing, I mean, what's the alternative? My twenties were, for the most part, a mess. My thirties, thus far, have been all about education, writing... It is a sobering thought to realise that my Mum, who didn't have her first child until she was twenty-seven had, by my age, seven children, the youngest - twins - just two-years-old. I have none, and have had no biological calling for them; it may just be that I haven't met the person with whom I've wanted to have children - or them me. I heard someone say the other day, actually it was more of a lament, that he felt on the outside because he hadn't fathered any children. I hate this idea that just because the vast majority of us have the ability to procreate, that we should. The world is becoming dangerously over-populated - why feel bad because you haven't added to that? But let me digress - back to the one thing I suspect has been my own substitute for the maternal instinct (submerged as it has been) has been redirected into my writing, it is, after all, a conception of an idea, a gestation, sickness and kicking too for many, and then a painful and bloody birth. And if the book-baby is ugly then you'll still have people coo and tell you how proud you must be. But yes, it is my birthday, and I share it with Ernest Hemingway. I always thought, when younger, that the person with whom I shared a birthday must signify an affinity of talent, a ruse to comfort myself about my future. But then I discovered that I also share the day with Wendy Cope, the poet. I have never made any attempt to hide my disdain for what I have long considered to be Cope's mediocre poetry. I really cannot understand why she is so popular. I'm sure that she may be a lovely person, but her poetry... On a brighter note I also share the day with Cat Stevens and Robin Williams. Now, birthday or not, work, and the never-ending pursuit of it, awaits.