‘Crappy birthday to you’

AFTER nearly four decades of mystery, a Facebook post has revealed it was a Highgate woman who made her friend’s 30th birthday cake out of buffalo poo.

It was up in the Northern Territory in 1981 when Marilyn Herd, now living in New Zealand, was having her 30th birthday.

Her friends gathered to celebrate, but just after cutting into her pavlova birthday cake she realised something was wrong; it had been made from a buffalo poo, coated in whipped cream and disguised to look like a pavlova.

• Narelle Taylor and her brother Mark Doherty, in the Northern Territory sourcing a wild buffalo poo for one of her patented pranks. Photo by their sister Janine Witton

Whipped cream

Ms Herd never knew who did it, until International Women’s Day earlier this month, when the culprit was revealed to be her close friend Narelle Taylor, now 68 and living in Highgate.

Ms Taylor’s daughter Paige, a highly awarded journalist, had aimed to post a tribute to her mum on Facebook after her sister Bree Furness dug up a decades old picture of the prank in progress.

“On International Women’s Day we say thanks for Narelle Taylor. Here she is circa 1981 sourcing an NT buffalo poo in the wild for one of her practical jokes,” she wrote.

“She disguised it under whipped cream, decorated it as a pavlova and presented it to one of her mates (yes) as a birthday cake.”

In a show of the interconnectivity of social media, it so happened the poo prank victim saw the post.

“Ummm I didn’t know it was you Narelle Taylor that was the instigator,” Ms Herd replied.

We got in touch with Ms Herd in NZ, and she recalled that night: “I thought it was so nice they remembered my birthday and made me a cake.

• Narelle Taylor today, 68 and living in Highgate.

A bit crunchy

“I blew out the candles, and I thought, oh, that’s a bit crunchy.”

The smell had faded enough and was well disguised by the cream, so she didn’t initially notice.

“I didn’t want to be impolite, so I pulled a little piece out, and tasted it a little bit. Then I realised.”

But she wasn’t angry: “I’m still laughing about it, it’s so funny”. In all the merriment, she didn’t get to interrogate the guests to find out who exactly was behind it.

She said finding out the culprit after 38 years “just made my day, I’m still smiling, still can’t believe it was [Ms Taylor].”

Ms Taylor told us she got the idea when she saw the shape of the buffalo poo which already resembled a cake. “It was just begging to be decorated. And she fell for it!” Ms Taylor laughs.

Ms Taylor says she wasn’t sure how her friend would react, but was “worried enough not to tell her that I had done it”.

Ms Herd says the prank kept the group suspicious for a time: She recalls her husband’s birthday later that year, and when presented with his cake he feared something might be amiss and took preemptive action.

“He karate chopped it,” Ms Herd says, but it turned out to be a genuine cake. “There were all these kids standing around with cake hanging off their face.”

Nearly four decades on, Ms Taylor says she still enjoys the odd prank. “Of course I do, I love them…It’s very difficult in a wheelchair, but I haven’t lost the appetite for jokes.”

But there’s one main difficulty in recreating this prank: “There’s not many buffalo in Highgate,” she says. “I haven’t shovelled any buffalo poo for years.”


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