Three glasses of champagne
I am exsheedingly drunk. Three glashes of champagne on an empty shtomach will do that to you. Well, there washn’t anything on the menu that I could eat.
It began innocently enough with handbells. No, no, handbells are never innocent. It is a crucial part of the definition of handbells that they are evil. That they drive quiet, law-abiding human beings to drink. *
All right, I’m too drunk to work this out. ** I think it all began a few weeks ago when Alicia emailed me that she was going to be in this area overnight. I haven’t seen her in forever; she’s been perversely hanging around Yorkshire or somewhere. There are bell towers up there, I believe, but apparently a total dearth of handbells.***. Alicia, partially under my malign influence, has finally begun learning to ring† in the tower, but of course that is only the beginning of one’s tintinabulant moral destruction, and I have been extremely frustrated by her remaining tantalisingly out of reach of further corruption. When she said she was going to be here on a Thursday, Niall, Colin and my handbell evening, her fate was sealed. †† I told Bronwen, who does get here occasionally for handbells, although not often enough, that Alicia was coming, whereupon Bronwen said, Hey! Great! I’ll come too!
This turned out to be a very good thing when Alicia and I embarked on interdimensional awryery. ††† Her meeting got out late, she caught a later train . . . and I turned up to fetch her at her hotel and when I didn’t see her in the lobby had to wait a quarter hour in the check-in queue because there wasn’t a concierge type person‡ to ask.‡‡ When I got to the head of the queue . . . they had never heard of Alicia. There are a variety of ways of spelling her last name. They didn’t have her listed under any of them.
So I went back outdoors again and endeavoured not to be run over by cars trying to get into the car park while I grappled with the RaspBerry. I almost hadn’t bothered to ask for Alicia’s mobile number: what could go wrong? What could go wrong is trying to locate a frelling signal around here . . . When I finally reached Alicia she said, Didn’t you get my email saying yes, please, pick me up at the train station?
By this time we were well into rush hour.
And by the time we got to Niall’s, Bronwen’s blood pressure was up by seventeen points and her eyes were beginning to bulge. We all turned as one to the fresh sacrifice, Alicia . . . whereupon Niall and Colin sauntered off to have a nice cuppa or read this week’s Ringing World or some damn thing‡‡‡ leaving me to try to explain the mysteries of plain hunt while Bronwen held down the third pair of bells. I made the most awful hash of it, of course, and eventually Niall rescued me, or, more to the point, Alicia, from my total ineptitude.§ And the really interesting thing is that by the end of the evening we were ringing plain hunt on ten. Ordinarily you don’t really talk about ringing plain hunt ‘inside’ (ie more sodding difficult) because the pattern is so basic everybody is ringing exactly the same thing, merely starting at different points of the circle. When you’re ringing bloody handbells it counts as inside. And tonight is in fact the first time I’ve ever successfully rung plain hunt on ten on one of those horrible inside pairs that split up and move through the pattern in all kinds of hideous asymmetrical ways. Or that Alicia had ever rung on ten at all. And it was all Bronwen’s fault. She kept saying, oh, come on, let’s do it on ten.§§
So clearly Bronwen, Alicia and I had to go off to the pub after and celebrate.§§§
And if this post seems choppier and more disconnected than usual, it may, of course, be the fumes of alcohol, but it may also be the getting up for a pee every ten minutes on account of the vast quantities of water I am drinking to flush the fumes away.
* * *
*Although I don’t require a great deal of driving when it’s champagne.
** This may be a short entry. That would be novel. Hmmmmmmm. No, no, no, I do not want to encourage three-glass champagne nights. Never mind the brain cell destruction, think of the money.^
^ And it isn’t short after all. Whew.
*** Apologies to any handbell-ringing Yorkshirepersons reading this. Alicia may just hang out with the wrong crowd.
† And that bell-ringing charm I slipped into her handbag the last time she was here cost. Speaking of money. Blowing a ringing is irresistible rune stencil lightly on the backs of their necks is cheaper and works better, but her hair is too short, and you don’t want other people noticing and possibly alerting the victim.
†† It is proof that the charm is working that she didn’t suddenly remember a previous engagement in Latvia, and how she wasn’t coming to Hampshire at all.
††† A situation that is awry. That should be perfectly clear.
‡ This is a brand-new glossy hotel in a chain striving to go up market. And by the time I got to the lobby it was already on my hit list: there is no way for pedestrians to get from the car park to the front door of the hotel except by straggling, hoisting or pulling any attendant luggage, down the car lanes. This means that to get into the car park you have to dodge a lot of people and their suitcases, and then once you’ve parked, you have to dodge a lot of cars to get back to reception. Hotel FAIL.
‡‡ Of course I arrived with a large cluster of businesspersons, all trying to outdazzle each other with their shiny designer scurliches and dires and talking in loud braying voices about their important dendoblans and glerks. I took a particularly virulent dislike to the fellow two ahead of me in the queue who had a very carrying voice, way too many way too white teeth^, hair like Bill Clinton’s, and wearing a pink gingham shirt with the label of a very fancy shirt maker on it—I know because I get their catalogues: if I found myself wanting to pay £200 for a shirt, I’d know I’d been taken over by an alien intelligence. Well, maybe not intelligence exactly—and carrying a garment bag emblazoned with the name of a fancy bespoke Savile Row tailor. Spare me. As he moved up to the desk for check in the fellow he was with murmured something and brushed a hand across Pink Gingham’s shoulder. Pink Gingham looked around and then down . . . and there was a little scuttling spider running for cover. I, of course, expected a look of outrage and/or horror and Death of a Spider on the bottom of a designer shoe. Pink Gingham picked one foot up and put it down very carefully and then turned round again so he was once again facing the desk, and, the spider having changed direction, moved his other foot . . . so he was now standing awkwardly splay-legged at the desk while he filled in his form, looking like a jerk . . . so a spider could make her escape. I decided maybe having white teeth and Bill Clinton’s hair was not a hanging offense after all.
There was actually kind of a lot of wildlife around this evening.^^ I got a moth down my shirt during handbells, requiring me to leap to my feet with a strangled yelp and rush off to the bathroom so I could rip my shirt off. Gah. Colin thought this was hilarious. Colin’s mother wears army boots.
^ Although the state of my own teeth may have a little to do with my aversion.
^^ Possibly something to do with the weather. We’ve now had an inch of rain in twenty-four hours. Yaay. Yaay except for superfluous wildlife streaming indoors.
‡‡‡ Oh, all right, Colin was mulling over a quarter peal pattern for Sunday. But he didn’t have to be doing it then.
§ I don’t want to learn to teach! Like I don’t want to learn to conduct! Like I don’t want to organise any quarter peals! Or be Deputy Ringing Master!
§§ Next time she can ring a hideous middle pair.
§§§ Alicia also has a glamorous new Android phone which Bronwen and I were both deeply interested in. But it doesn’t have Fingerzilla! How can I love a phone without a Fingerzilla app! I guess I’ll just have to wait for the iPhone. . . .
Oh, and Alicia wielded her booking confirmation number over the phone at the hotel, and they decided they had heard of her after all.
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