25 May 2004 | Officialy Old

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes from all over the world – lovely!

Actors don’t deserve birthdays, days when you are made to feel special. What with first nights and closing nights we have more opportunities than most for cards and gifts and expressions of regard. So it doesn’t bother me much if, as this year, my birthday slipped by without a celebration other than a theatre outing and dinner afterwards with close friends: very enjoyable but nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my friends were being discreet, thinking notice of the state pension amongst the cards was enough of a reminder that I am now officially old. At 8.30pm British Summer Time I turned 65.

Five years ago, it was different – a surprise party for my 60th in a west London hotel whence I was driven in a borrowed saloon with two leatherclad outriders. There was a cabaret and Sting sang “Happy Birthday”! Fifteen years ago, I eschewed company and booked just myself into a healthfarm in Spain where language difficulties meant I never found the spa. But I bumped into an old acquaintance in the gym thank goodness and never stopped telling him I was 50 today!

25 years ago, another surprise party in my New York apartment following a Sunday matinee of “Amadeus” on Broadway. For my 21st birthday, busy with second year examinations at Cambridge, I opened my presents in the sunshine after breakfast and didn’t care that only my family had noticed I was grown-up. In those days 18 was still three short of one’s majority and before that I can’t remember. – Ian McKellen, 25 May 2004

Ian McKellen, 2004

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