The Birthday Howitzer

Or the art of dropping on people at short notice.

It is an art. A black art, mind, but notable nevertheless. In Australia it’s been been refined into folklore. The ” Sundowner ” was an itinerant who turned up at stations looking for work just at sundown…when hospitality would not be refused but no actual work could be done. The nearest modern equivalent is the person who calls at tea-time, sees you trying to prepare the meal, but will not go away. They stay until you give way and invite them to a meal.

Then they complain about the cooking…

The Birthday Howitzer is somewhat similar except it is fired when there is a family celebration in the offing. The gunner arrives at the start of the family party with a gift…and therefore cannot be refused entry. The gift can be as tawdry or cheap as you like – the $ 2 or Reject Shop is a good place to stock up. The wrapping can be terrible. It need not be appropriate in any way for the recipient. It can even be horribly offensive – the salient point is that it is a present, and thus a key to all the food and drink on offer. A good Birthday Gunner can consume half their weight in barbeque and beer before the cake comes out. If there are take-away lollie bags for the kids, several of them can be snaffled as well.

A very special variant of the BH is the hospital visitor that brings in a magazine that they got out of the waiting room but stays to share morning tea and lunch and then departs with the patient’s fruit bowl.

You must excuse me -I’m feeling a bit peckish and I heard the rustle of a crisp packet opening…

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