Happy birthday, Howl Pendragon!

Happy birthday, Howl Pendragon!

Er, Wizard Howl, er, Sorcerer Jenkins, er, Howell Jenkins, or whatever name he currently goes by. Anyway, it is Howl’s birthday today, February 5th, and therefore I declare it is a Celebrate Sophie and Howl and Diana Wynne Jones Day.

But how do we celebrate Howl’s birthday? The clamoring crowds of DWJ fans demand to know.

Nothing simpler. First off, wake late. Unless you have something to do, in which case you must do it with hitherto unexpected energy. Devote elaborate care to your appearance: spend about two hours in the bathroom in the morning, washing yourself and arranging your locks. You may wish to dye your hair. Make sure that nobody has touched your many potions, lotions, and other alchemical ingredients; you don’t want to end up with a pan of bacon and eggs for hair, otherwise known as ginger-tinted flaxen locks.

Choose a scent for the day – apple blossom, perhaps, or hyacinth – and dress in beautiful clothing, preferable in silver and blue, or grey and scarlet, or head-to-toe black. Alternately you may wear peacock-coloured clothing, as Sophie does in House of Many Ways. (Mauve satin – or silk – is also canonical; see Castle in the Air, chapter twenty-one; but so much less gorgeous and less Howl-like, in my opinion.) See if you can get a friend who is good with a needle to spruce up your attire, give it a little extra something. Your jewelry will of course match your garments in hue.

Fry bacon and eggs for breakfast, or better yet, have someone else do the cooking and cleaning for you. Should anything go wrong today you must behave like a thwarted toddler; if you can’t bring yourself to throw a howling temper tantrum, get thee to the kitchen and make a pot of green slime. It will make you feel better, although it may also make a terrible mess. Afterwards, take another hot shower, clean up the mess (or get someone else to do it), and coddle yourself with sips of hot milk.

You naturally have immense reserves of charm; use a few breezy compliments and that sunny smile to mollify anybody whom you have offended. Remember also that your movements are graceful. Make a few literary references in passing; after all, you have a Ph.D. Change your name and assume multiple aliases that better fit your opinion of yourself. Jenkins is ordinary; Pendragon is magnificent.

Walk around with a guitar. It doesn’t matter if you are completely unmusical; guitars make you look good. Girls (and boys) are much more likely to notice you if a) you look good, and b) you look musical. It really doesn’t matter if you can’t even whistle. If you are single, this is a good day to annoy that someone you have your eye on. (Any day is a good day to annoy that someone you have your eye on, but today is an especially good day to annoy that person spectacularly.)

Bake or buy and enjoy a meat (or vegetarian) pie for supper and black forest cake for dessert. The colour scheme for the dinner table or the wrappings is pink and white. (Howl, Sophie, and Michael also technically ate onions soaked in vinegar, but I am not going to recommend that until I’ve tried it, and I don’t want to try it.) Sing the saucepan song (aka Sosban Fach) and teach it to someone else. Look at the art here.

Be generous to strangers who can never repay you. Be kind to someone you care about. Do something you’re afraid to do, even if it means confronting a djinn.

Happy birthday, Howl.