"I'm having a real birthday tomorrow," she told me yesterday - rather sadly.
Yes, she only gets one every four years. It is a day of mixed emotions for her.
I know of two other people with their birthdays on that date. I don't know what one person does about his birthday. The other celebrates twice - once on the day before and once on the day afterwards "because the real day gets lost somewhere in between".
But this woman's father took a different view. If her birthday was on the 29th then that was the day it would be celebrated. He was cruelly adamant about that. Throughout her childhood while her siblings had birthdays each year, while her friends had birthdays each year, she had one only every four years. Her father told her it was just her "bad luck" to be born on the 29th and that she had to "put up and shut up" about it. He did not allow others to celebrate her birthday at any other time either.
It was nasty, petty and harmful. He used it as a means to prevent her from doing all sorts of things.
"I kept on being told "you're not old enough"," she told me eight years ago - the time I first met her.
She left home when the law said she was eighteen. Her school leaving results were good but she didn't have the confidence to go to university or the support of her family. She went to work in the retail trade, the only job she could get.
It took a long time but she did eventually apply for university as a "mature age" student. She trained as a teacher and she is, from all accounts, a very good one.
She is good enough and popular enough that the Whirlwind's form has arranged a "surprise party" for her today. She is their form teacher. They have arranged for a cake "with ALL the candles" and a card and a book they know she wants to read. The other staff are in on it because they needed a bit of help and I bought the book for them at their request (paid for promptly).
Ms Whirlwind has promised to tell me "whether she cries or laughs".