When I was asked last week what was the best birthday I’d ever had, I was in no doubt about the answer: it was my 45th. I was in Australia on a speaking tour which finished in Sydney on a Friday night, and I was asked what I would like to do on my birthday, the Saturday, before leaving. I suggested a boat trip around Sydney’s famous harbour and bay, expecting a ride on a commercial ferry. Instead my hosts at Centre 2000 had laid on the private yacht of one of their board members, with a cake and a case of champagne. Two of us from the ASI sailed with the young staff of Centre 2000 around the islands and inlets of the bay. It was a fantastic day, bright and sunny with a sea breeze. Afterwards there was a cocktail reception on the top floor of a skyscraper overlooking the bridge and harbour, lit up in the evening. Then I was driven to catch my plane.
I had chosen to go on Eastward round the world rather than directly back to Britain. The cost was about the same, but it overcame jet lag more easily, and gave me a stopover in Hawaii on the way to the US mainland and then London. During the flight to Hawaii we did something I knew about but had overlooked: we crossed the International Date Line and reverted to the previous day. When we landed in the early morning, I spent my birthday all over again on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu. That made it a birthday difficult to beat.
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