Wordpretzels, let me tell you all about yesterday, one that I was looking forward to. It was all going to begin with breakfast with Nanny Janet, who had travelled down with me to Exeter for my uncle’s funeral the day before. Then, suited and booted, I would set off for a ceremony celebrating adult learners and their achievements, spending the morning with my nominees who would receive their certificates. Then, off to Steeley, The Tinker’s Friend’s house to watch the FA Cup Final, where Arsenal would hopefully win their first trophy for nearly 9 years.
But the fun wouldn’t stop there. The village social club were organising a ‘speed skittles’ tournament. Lady Barton St Mary was reluctant to mix with the locals, but I’d done my best to persuade her it was the right thing to do. It may be a way of placating them for all the times their children had been zapped on the electrified fence around Randall Towers or bitten by our vicious hounds Mugabe and Thatcher. The downside was, we needed a team of 6, which meant finding some friends to play on our team. I decided to work on Steeley and his wife, She-La! later.
Breakfast finished, I bade farewell to Nanny Janet and Lady Barton St Mary and made my way to the awards ceremony, something that I always enjoy. This year was no different, doing my best to make three ladies feel very special. There are lots of photographs and speeches, before the traditional visit to the pub and a celebratory drink.
Now, usually at this time of year, I would forgo any alcoholic beverage due to the fact that the awards ceremony usually falls on the day before a local half marathon. What’s more, because I have been in training since Christmas, I’d been alcohol free for over 4 months. But this year, the half marathon is next week, so I thought, what the heck, it’s a hot sunny day, I’ll have a pint of lager. Very nice it was too.
I left the triumphant ladies in the beer garden and came home. The first part of the day had been a great success. Now off to Steeley’s house to watch the game with Master Johnny. Since I’d had one beer, I thought I’d take a can of cider with me.
The game started badly. Within 5 minutes, Hull City, huge underdogs, had scored a goal. Arsenal hadn’t even touched the ball. I opened the cider and took a big gulp.
“Keep calm,” I said, looking at the forlorn faces of Steeley and Master Johnny, “there’s plenty of time.”
Within 10 minutes, Hull were 2-0 up.
“Shall we still keep calm?” asked Steeley wearily. I finished the cider.
“There’s still 80 minutes to go,” I placated.
“Fancy a Guinness?” Steeley enquired. I did.
Santi Carzola, Arsenal’s majestic midfield player, scored a screamingly good free kick from 35 yards – we were all off our seats in jubilation. One more goal to bring us level, something that hadn’t happened in the cup final since 1966, according to the commentator. They’re always fond of giving you completely meaningless statistics.
The Guinness was consumed, followed by another. Everything seemed to be a little hazy. Arsenal, almost inevitably, equalise. Again all on our feet, jubilant! The Guinness was going down well.
Into extra time, Arsenal attack – a back heel from Giroud and the young Welshman Aaron Ramsey puts away the third and winning goal. More jubilation!
She-La! returns from a shopping trip with Millie and agrees to make up our skittles team. By now, the Guinness is accompanying me to an out of body experience as we floated down to the social club. Master Johnny, who really didn’t fancy playing skittles at all, reluctantly agreed to come with us to make up the team.
“Hello! We’re here for the speed skittles tournament!” I said. The social club organiser looked worried.
“I’m afraid we can’t take any more teams,” he explained.
“We might be able to fit you into other teams,” he offered.
I looked at my team and shrugged.
“Let’s have a drink,” suggested Steeley. This was probably a bad idea, but I had another pint of lager and eased into a comfy chair. By now, life seemed to be going on around me, my consciousness lapping in and out like waves on a beach. Master Johnny’s football coach appeared from the alley.
“Ah, great! Johnny! I want you on my team!” he explained, placing a hand in Master Johnny’s back and guiding him into the fray. Master Johnny gave a desperate glance back at us before disappearing into the skittle alley. So, the only person who didn’t want to play skittles had got himself a game.
“I might have to leave soon,” offered Master Johnny.
“Oh no, you have to stay until the end,” explained Coach Dave.
By now, I’d got into a conversation with Noel, my village running partner, who explained that we’d be doing a gentle 9 miles in the morning. I caught Steeley’s eye and pointed at Noel.
“Zish. Ish Noel. Heesh a vair, vairgud runner.”
I looked at Noel and pointed at Steeley.
“Zish. Ish Sleeley. Heesh a vair, vairgud runner. Heeshwas once in der top twenny triathlete lisht…”
For good measure, I continued to explain this amazing fact to everybody. Several times.
“Fancy a pint?” asked Steeley. I did.
Into the void. We left the club, leaving Johnny to play until late into the night. My body transported me home, I think. Lady Barton St Mary ordered a curry for everybody whilst I organised drinks. I found some cider and consumed it. Lady BSM left with She-la to collect the curry. I went upstairs to use the loo.
I woke up at 5am still wearing my clothes with no memory of how I’d got there. Lady BSM, Miss Katherine and Master Johnny were only too willing to explain what had happened.
Lady BSM returned with our evening meal and I was nowhere to be found. Miss Katherine located me, in bed, under the duvet, fast asleep. Lady BSM did her best to wake me.
“You left our guests on their own downstairs!” she told me.
“Where were you?” I asked, apparently, before falling back into a deep sleep. I, of course, remember none of this.
So, our evening, where we were going to mingle with the locals, persuade our friends, who we hadn’t seen for a while, to spend some time with us, didn’t quite turn out as planned.
We didn’t mix with the locals. We’d taken our friends to a non-event. Then, returning home, leaving our stranded son to play something he didn’t want to, I’d managed to put myself to bed, leaving our guests to entertain themselves.
So, the moral of the story is: don’t think that if you’ve been teetotal for a considerable amount of time, you can pick up where you left off. I think I prefer the non-alcoholic lifestyle.
The 9 mile run was a disaster. But then, did I tell you that Noel is a very, very good runner.