8 Months – still sober. Once again; well done Mobi!!!
So to all those doom-sayers who predicted that I would succumb once I got back to the old country with the British pub culture and drunken friends and relatives, I can tell you with absolute honesty that I haven’t even come close to a lapse.
OK, I’ve still got about 12 days to go before I say my farewells to this land of my birth, but, the main events are now behind me and frankly I doubt whether I will even encounter any more major drinking situations during my remaining time here, let alone feel any alcohol urges.
Some of you that predicted that family dramas would lead me back to drink, but I am happy to report that there have been no dramas. I seem to have been blessed with one of the best families in the world, as everyone seems to get on so well together and there are few, if any resentments, or ill feelings amongst any of us, from near and far. Maybe this is the legacy of my dreaded father, dead these past 28 years, which may well have had the unintended effect of throwing us all together.
And as for drinking booze in my company, well for the most part they have all been the model of restraint. I insisted that they should not treat me with kid gloves and that I had to live in the real world where people do drink on social occasions, but during my stay with my brother and both my daughters, there was never a sign of any alcohol, even though I know they all like the occasional tipple.
Of course, when I went to Allendale, there was much wine and some beer with the evening dinners and later, as we sat around chatting and singing. Of course, alcohol was also very evident at my daughter’s wedding – naturally enough, but on both these occasions I never batted an eye lid, and was barely aware of most getting quite tipsy, except for a couple of errant ladies; one lady wife in Allendale, and then a dear, elderly female cousin at the wedding, got so pissed they had to be assisted to their respective beds..
So there we are ladies and gentlemen – I have now succeeded in chalking up 8 months of total abstinence, and in the not too distant future, I hope to be celebrating my first anniversary of sobriety.
So what has Mobi been up to since my last blog, late last week?
You may recall that I had been returned by Sid, my elder brother. back to Samantha’s house in Stamford, where, not only Sam and her fiancé Rod, were awaiting my arrival, but also my eldest daughter Natalie, who had been driven over by her husband from their home in Nuneaton.
At this point I must confess that I have lost track of the last time I have seen the various members of my family for it is varies for each person or couple, given that they have visited me in Thailand on different occasions, and it is all a bit confused in my alcohol addled brain. Anyway, I think the last time I had seen Natalie was at her wedding in 2004?? , but whenever it was, it was certainly a long time.
I think I must write down a time line setting out all the various times I have seen my family – when and where, so that I don’t have to continually over extend my poor old grey matter.
Anyway, Natalie greeted her decrepit old Dad as though she hadn’t seen me for lifetime, and we had a very long, tearful hug. Her hubby, Abe, had already left to return to Nuneaton so the four of us, Sam, Nat and Sam’s intended, Rod, spent a pleasant couple of days together.
Sunday night saw us driving into Stamford to enjoy one of those very English of all English meals, a Pizza, at a very up-market looking Pizza Express.
(Everything in Stamford looks up-market, even the second hand clothes shops are called ‘Dress Agencies’ as the clothes have all been sold to the shops by ‘genteel’ folks of the neighbourhood, who having worn them once at a local high society ball, wouldn’t be seen dead wearing them a second time.)
The Pizzas were good, albeit a little on the pricey side but Sam and Rod would have none of it when I tried to pay the bill – they are such good souls.
The next day, the four of us made a return trip to Stamford town centre, where I indulged my obsession of browsing around second hand book stores, while Sam and Rod did some last minute, pre-wedding shopping.
Natalie must the proud owner of.. give or take…maybe 5,000 hand bags, so we were all on guard to ensure that she was not allowed entry to any shop that sold that particular item. Mind you, I did keep bumping into old bags on the street, but not the type that Nat was into.
I had resolved not to buy any books as I am already close to my weight limit, (for the return flight), and I can now get just about any book on Amazon’s Kindle, or Kobo, but once I set my eyes on what Stamford had to offer there was no stopping me.
Sam showed me the most wonderful old book shop, literally teeming with a treasure trove of ancient literature at incredibly low prices, and I just couldn’t resist some of the bargains that I found there.
I ended up with a pile that I doubt I will able to take back with me – including Dostoyevsky, Chaucer, Hardy, Nietzsche, DH Lawrence, Satre, and…. Spike Milligan! Some heavy reading matter – both literally and metaphorically, with the exception of Spike, on both counts.
The shop was truly a throwback to some bygone age, as not only did it sell books, it was also a taxidermist, (they stuff dead animals!), and for some God forsaken reason, they specialised in stuffing Owls! It was almost as if Harry potter had passed by there to have his favourite owl stuffed.
During our town centre wandering, I decided that I was getting low on cash, which prompted the four of us to pay a visit to an ATM machine, or, as it is known to all and sundry throughout the UK; ‘The ‘Ole in the wall’.
Not too dissimilar to its Thai ATM cousin, the English ATM machine does particularly distinguish itself for the unfathomable number of menu options displayed on its sun-drenched, almost invisible screen.
This proved a bit too much for this ageing recovering alcoholic, but not to worry, I had three bright young things to guide me through the process, standing behind me in a semi-circle, shouting out instructions as I navigated my way through the unfamiliar maze of buttons.
“Put your pin number in”, shouted Nat.
“One…Three…” I started to read from my trusty tablet…
“No Dad! Shouted Sam, don’t tell everybody!
Then I almost pressed the wrong button and the three of them screamed in unison, just in time to stop the errant manoeuvre.
By this time a curious crowd of onlookers had gathered on the other side of the road, wondering what on earth was happening to disturb the tranquillity of their ancient and hitherto peaceful little town. They hadn’t reckoned on the chaotic effects of a Mobi in their midst.
Down-town Stamford…. again…
The following day, Tuesday, we all piled in Sam and Rod’s little Peugeot for the trip across country to Natalie’s house in Nuneaton, where Sam and Rod would stay the night before returning to Stamford on Wednesday morning.
Natalie and Abe had bought their large detached house a few years previously and it truly is a grand house in a nice little suburb. Four bedrooms upstairs, two of which are en suite, a large lounge, complete with 48 inch, 3 D. plasma TV, a separate dining room and very spacious kitchen down stairs, with a decent sized garden and barbecue area out back.
There is even a lovely little lake nearby, complete with ducks and a pleasant lakeside pathway.
Natalie’s house, and the nearby lake
On Thursday, Abe had the day off and the three off us took a twenty minute drive to Leamington Spa, where we parked up and took a very pleasant walk through the Jephson Gardens park to the town centre.
Formerly known as Leamington Priors, Royal Leamington Spa began to develop as a town at the start of the 19th century on the banks of the river Leam. It was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Lamintone. The healing properties of the spa waters had been known in Roman times and their rediscovery in 1784 led to their commercialisation
So we strolled along the celebrated High Street, and passed the Pump House Baths where the Victorians used to flock to take the waters, and admired the seemingly endless Georgian terraces and the ornate Victorian town hall which was located slap bang in the centre of the ancient high street.
A pleasant lunch, al fresco, at a busy little Italian Bistro and served by a beautiful Polish waitress and then the return stroll by a different route, back through the park to the car for the short journey home.
Royal Leamington Spa & Jephson Gardens
Friday was the eve of the BIG DAY, and was passed relatively quietly at home in Nuneaton. Abe’s parents came for a visit and Natalie and Abe did us proud with a very tasty barbecue.
I say relatively quietly, for Abe had a Wii paddle game. For those not familiar with this miracle of modern inventions, (Mobi being one of them), this is an electronic game where various sports can be displayed on the TV screen and the players in then room participate, using large electronic paddle-like contraptions.
Abe’s aged parents almost exhausted themselves in trying to defeat each other, first in tennis, then golf, then pool, and finally, of all things boxing! I swear to God that the two were almost on the point of collapse, as if they were actually in a real boxing match. I couldn’t help wondering if they were trying to settle a few old scores.
I watched this latest electronic game craze with fascination from the safe distance of my corner armchair, and can’t tell you how relieved I was when Mrs Abe Senior succeeded in knocking out Mr Abe senior for the count with the most vicious rabbit punch to the side of the head I have seen in many a year.
The next day, Saturday, was Samantha’s wedding day and I will write all about that in my next blog – maybe on Thursday, (tomorrow), or Friday.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…BUTT….I don’t give a hoot….