Aging Lad popped in on New Year’s Eve for a pre-clubbing snifter. Pre-clubbing for him, I mean. I was already fondly anticipating that lovely moment when the fireworks stop, around 12.15, and you can go to sleep. Whereas Lad was limbering up for a wild Brighton night that wouldn’t start till the wee small hours.
I offered him some of my precious sherry, to which I’d become seriously attached over the Christmas period. As it’s only available from the Harveys shop, and as they’ve recently run out, it was awfully decent of me. Luckily he waved it away. ‘Got any lager?’
I found a bottle we’d got free from Spice Merchant at the back of the fridge. I prised it off the frost with a spatula.
‘Nice and cold,’ Lad said approvingly.
Man of the House shuffled in wearing his dressing-gown, and flopped into an armchair.
‘Wooh! Party night!’ crowed Lad. ‘Look at you two sad middle-agers.’
We ignored him, as we usually do. ‘Ah,’ sighed Man, sipping sherry daintily. ‘Those superb top-notes of almond…’
‘Followed by that delicious coffee after-taste,’ I concluded.
‘Ah,’ sighed Lad, glugging recklessly and splashing the Radio Times, ‘those superb top-notes of lager, followed by,’ and he belched loudly, ‘bottom notes of lager.’
Lad has been seeing one woman for ages – three months - so I subtly quizzed him about his intentions.
‘Did you give Destiny an engagement ring for Christmas?’
He looked surprised. ‘No. She wanted a tattoo. We got it done yesterday. That’s why she’s not coming out tonight; hurts to sit down.’
‘Thought she was the one, Lad.’Lad looked shifty. ‘She’s very nice. Yes. But. You know.’
‘Am I ready? For all this?’ He swept a hand round our living room.
‘What, Farrow & Ball?’
‘Marriage. Settling down. You know. Slippers and sherry.’
‘I thought you wanted kids, Lad.’
‘Definitely. But I’m only 47. That Lewes bloke who was in all the papers was miles older. And Charlie Chaplin was 73!’
What would male commitment-phobes do without Charlie Chaplin to fall back on?
A sleepy Thing Two came in, citing a nightmare about there being no more chocolate. Lad tried to pick him to prove his child-friendliness, but pulled a muscle in his back. As Man carried Thing Two back to bed with one hand, I reassured Lad, ‘they start off much lighter as babies. You get time to build up to this age.’
‘Don’t suppose there’s any more lager?’
I shook my head.
‘Give me some of that then,’ he said ungraciously, gesturing to the sherry, but as he sipped, his brow cleared.
‘Hey! It’s nice. Top notes of very strong booze.’
He did a kind of tequila-slammer thing with it, then slowly stood up. ‘Right. Off to par-deeeee!’
He sounded less enthusiastic than earlier. Then he sat down again, picked up the damp Radio Times and the sherry bottle and poured himself a heart-stoppingly large dram.
‘Might just watch a bit of the Hootenanny first.’
Beth Miller, 5th January 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com and Viva Lewes magazine, December 2013