I want a quiet birthday. Someone tell that to the cat | Tim Dowling

On another day I would wake my wife to make her come down and deal with this magpie situation, but not today

When I wake, sunlight is streaming through the bedroom window. I look at my phone to check the time: just after 6am. Then I see the date, and I have a sudden and overwhelming need to escape the room before my wife can wake up and wish me a happy birthday.

I dress silently, in the clothes from the previous day. For a moment, my wife seems to stir, but then settles. I step over the sleeping dog, squeeze past the door without opening it further (it drags noisily against the carpet) and creep down the stairs.

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