I have been visited by the dreaded gout. Put alongside Mum’s horrendous cough and we’re a right old pair of crocks.
While explaining to Mum how I got gout in the first place and henceforth continue to suffer from such an aristocratic malady, the subject of alcohol came up. This led us, quite naturally, to the only time Mum had ever seen Dad drunk.
It was at Betty Drain and Lennie Tudor’s wedding. (I’m not a big fan of women having to surrender their identities by taking their new owners name, but I reckon Betty was pretty happy with the idea.)
For reasons which will probably never be known, Dad was knocking them back with great gusto. The real reception was held just up the road from grandma & granddad’s house and Dad suddenly decided they needed to go there before attending the secret reception which, I think, was at the same place. (This sort thing happened a lot, according to Mum. I guess it weeded out the unwanted but necessary guests from the real reception.)
Anyway, the other, really important thing about this wedding was the fact that Mum was eight months pregnant with me. Now, try and picture a very drunk (and presumably swaying) man, in his best suit, six foot tall being ‘supported’ by his miniature though child-bloated wife, heading in a roundabout fashion down the road.
Once they reached the house Dad announced that he needed to go to the loo…which was outside. Mum was at great pains to assure me that it was a normal flush toilet but was separate from the main house…which is important for the story.
Mum, clearly furious and tapping her foot in exasperation at missing the secret reception couldn’t get any response from Dad when she pounded on the door, which he’d thoughtfully locked and promptly collapsed against. Suddenly her fury turned to concern as she worried that something may have happened. Actually, I just added that, Mum said she had no sympathy for him and just wanted to get back to the party.
In a bit of a tizz, Mum knocked up the bloke next door, Keith, explaining the situation and he, gallantly climbed over the garden fence, across the roof, down to the toilet and managed to squeeze his full sized arm through a tiny, vent-like window the perfect size for a twig. He stretched and strained and, finally, managed to unlock the door.
Mum was standing by the door as it suddenly swung open, dumping a comatose Fred unceremoniously down two steps and onto the concrete path. She was not impressed.
Uncle Buster and Uncle Les turned up and, presumably laughing behind their hands while clucking disapprovingly to Mum, offered to put him to bed. Mum happily handed the responsibility over to them and returned to the secret reception.
The next morning, with no sympathy from Mum, Dad suffered an almighty hangover…and he’d ruined his best suit.