Should there be any puzzlement why invitations did not go out this year for one of my birthday parties over the next few days, I shall venture to lend clarity concisely and without a hint of prevarication.
This month, indeed in a couple of days' time, I will reach the same age as that of my beloved mother when, sadly, she entered the Lord's safekeeping twelve months after my elevation to the episcopate.
The awareness of this has weighed upon my mind for some time, sufficient to persuade me to bring the July party tradition to a close. I shall still be holding a formal birthday dinner on the day itself, but only in the company of ghosts choosing to attend and, of course, my wife. It will remain, as often it was in the past, a white tie occasion. This stipulation on invitations has not always been observed, but I very much appreciate the few who made valiant attempts to be, at least, what they consider to be dressed for dinner. Such things, as most of you realise, matter to me, but I recognise that with the new century came a downside, and that includes the dumbing-down of just about everything, including etiquette. Moreover, I very much appreciate how uncomfortably hot July can be. This year is certainly no exception with temperatures veering in the general direction of 30° and even beyond.
That notwithstanding, the real reason there is no birthday celebration with friends is the one given.
This does not affect other anniversaries. Needless to say, all friends and acquaintances are still welcome during the Christmas period; indeed from Gaudete Sunday in Advent through to Epiphany.
Official Birthday Portrait (taken on the day itself).