My favourite daydream is to imagine that I’ve won the Euromillions and bought a rundown castle in the middle of nowhere.
In the fantasy I am known (and largely avoided) for being the eccentric rich lady that roams the woods after dark in a long silk dressing gown.
My second favourite daydream is to wonder what undiscovered talents I might have.
There are loads of things I’ve never tried that I could potentially be world class at. The beauty of the exercise is that I’ll never know for sure.
Unless and until I try my hand at: archery; tightrope walking; javelin; cheese mongering, stamp collecting or crocodile wrestling, there is hope.
Statistically, everybody probably has at least one hidden talent that they haven’t stumbled across yet.
This week, I might have come close to discovering one of my own.
My neighbour, Maureen – the boss of the street – has been looking forward to celebrating her daughter’s wedding.
In a way that indicated that after 10 years of living alongside me she still hasn’t realised what a control freak I am, Maureen said it might be nice if we put up a few balloons to mark the occasion.
And so, the Great Balloon Extravaganza of 2021 was born.
Days before the event, I had two 16ft garlands, made up of 120ish balloons apiece, assembled and ready to go.
Drunk on the bouncy joy of it all, I also made a freehand garland for inside the communal close.
And then another one. And then some extra ones to hang 20ft above the stairwell.
It turns out, balloons are My Thing. Patrick Swayze has pottery, I have balloons. You tell me which is the sexier skill. Ultimately, Tinder will decide.
My upstairs neighbour, Anne Marie, was my co-conspirator.
Over a bottle of prosecco in Balloon HQ, we discussed what else we could do to make the place look special for the occasion.
By the time we had opened the second bottle, our decorating plans had grown arms and legs. Tipsy and overconfident, we were sure that we would have time do EVERYTHING.
We could probably preside over the marriage ceremony itself and organise a Covid-compliant ceilidh for afterwards if we put our minds to it.
Anne Marie said I was being very bossy and the power of becoming chief decorator had went to my head. Shamefully, I was and it had
The big day arrived and it was blowing a hooley. There’s nothing like Scottish weather to keep you humble.
As I shouted to make myself heard over the gale and we tried desperately to attach the two gargantuan garlands to the wall without taking flight, our relationship was tested like never before.
Anne Marie said I was being very bossy and the power of becoming chief decorator had went to my head. Shamefully, I was and it had.
Do you take this marshmallow?
Balloons broke free from their bindings and dashed down the street.
I had a tension headache and was worried that we weren’t going to get finished on time.
Anne Marie gave me marshmallows and said the sugar would calm me down. I’m pretty sure it was to stop me talking.
She wanted to do the job well. I wanted to do it before the bride arrived.
When it came to decorating inside the close, she kept going in search of more accoutrements while I shrieked ‘’WE DON’T HAVE TIME!’’
But in the end, it was magic.
Her patience, artistic insights and vast collection of silk flowers combined with my many, many balloons brought romance to our wee close.
It had a similar vibe to Ross and Emily’s wedding venue in Friends: all flickering candles and soft lighting, but with a fully constructed roof.
The balloons outside stayed put under threat of being popped with a rusty steak knife.
The bride was beautiful and Maureen was jubilant. Anne Marie was still my pal, despite my leadership style bearing worrying similarities to that of Boris Johnson.
The residents of the street came out in force in their big hats and fluffy slippers to wave the wedding party away. It almost felt like pre-Covid times.
That was, until my daughter’s school phoned to tell me that somebody had tested positive and I had to pick her up immediately.
Down but not out
She’s fine. Her main concern was that the news came during lunch and she didn’t get to finish her chicken curry.
The dinner ladies giveth, the virus taketh away.
It’s a good job the close is looking so pretty, because that’s the furthest I’ll be able to travel for a while.
Technically, I don’t need to self-isolate. But my daughter does and seven year olds are really clingy.
Her teacher has shown admirable optimism in updating Google Classroom for our perusal. I appreciate the gesture, but we won’t be going near the thing.
First full day of self-isolation and she’s drawn a face on a balloon and named it Claire. pic.twitter.com/q72kaJnVah
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) June 15, 2021
During our first full day of self-isolation my daughter drew a wonky face on a balloon and named it Claire.
I’m taking that as a sign that balloon art is in our blood.
We have a wealth of untapped talent just waiting to be discovered and now we’ve got 10 glorious days of isolation to find it.