Under no circumstances ask my mate Charlie if he enjoyed his sunner break. Although the owd lad is enfeebled by many years of bad living he is still capable of dishing out a punch to the nose.
I knew there was something going on when I saw him in action at the booze supermarket and instead of buying by the litre he was happily paying through the nose for half bottles of many and various types of spirituous waters.
After a modest 10 pints or so he called a one-man press conference (me) and offered an explanation.
His daughter, wealthy husband and two early-teenage kids had invited themselves to chez Charlie for a few days in July.
How nice, you may think – a family reunion. But there is a spanner in the works – the whole bunch of ‘em are ocean-going, 18 carat, fur-lined, turbo-charged, card-carrying teetotalers. And Charlie, of course, has a whistle that is in constant need of wetting.
Familial relations have only just thawed since a similar visit a coupe of Crimbos ago when Charlie, who clearly wasn’t thinking straight, stuck two bottles of orange squash in the back of the fridge. Each bottle had been doctored. Half the contents went down the drain and were replaced by Gordon’s gin. Thus Charlie could keep semi blotto and earn himself brownie points by not boozing.
Tragically, the kids discovered the highly-tweaked orange and drank the lot on Christmas Eve. They had a vicious little fist-fight which grandad refereed and spent the next 12 hours in a coma.
‘I blame myself for that’, said Charlie, generously. ‘I should have known that the little suckers couldn’t hold their liquor being brought up in such an unhealthy teetotal environment.’
Anyway, no danger that it will ever happen again. Charlie has a couple of weeks to work out the strategic placement of half-bottles, which only occupy half the space taken up by full bottles. A deep and subtle thinker is old Charlie.
I know from a previous conservation that the scotch will go into the lavatory cistern for consolation when the old lad is in the grip of intractable constipation.
Meanwhile, he reckons the kids may have seen the light and become junior boozers, in which case it’s just as well his supply is hidden otherwise they could attack it not in ignorance but with malice aforethought.