Sunday 2 March 2008

Hello, sailor

14st 8lb, for God’s sake; 6.0 units of alcohol; 1,433; Nausea.

I feel terrible. Well, that’s what the last woman who tried it told me. I don’t feel very well, either, and suspect that this may be related to the fact that I had some slight hunger pangs during last night’s marathon viewing of Gavin & Stacey, and decided to deal with it by eating a whole 12oz tin of corned beef slathered in mustard and slapped between two Desperate Dan-sized slices of bread. My behaviour is made all the more horrible and hard to understand by the fact that I had the dreadful examples of James Corden and Ruth Jones on the screen in front of me, as a dire warning against the perils of overeating. Perhaps I was unduly influenced by the cheering Islay malt I had been drinking when the hunger pangs arrived.

Anyway, I now feel thoroughly nauseous and disinclined to do anything. But I must. When I casually invited all those people round to dinner tonight I did so on the reckoning that I had spring cleaned the house only two weekends before, and had been away for much of the intervening period, so there shouldn’t be too much hard work to do. But of course I’d reckoned without the effect of having a powerful filth generator in three rooms, in the shape of an open fire. Plus the unremitting efforts of the mobile filth generator known as my Border terrier.

So I ended up spending the whole day fighting back nausea while wielding a duster, vacuum cleaner, chamois leather, dustpan, dishcloth or mop. Except when I went out to borrow a baking dish vast enough to accommodate the 14lb joint of pork I had been presented with to cook for supper.

In the late afternoon the first of the dinner guests arrived and my Border terrier and I accompanied her and her white Labrador on a walk across the neighbouring fields. It wasn’t white for long, being the sort of rumbustious dog that likes nothing more than bustling through barbed wire, picking up huge baulks of timber to use as sticks, and lying down in the middle of muddy pools.

Back at the house, as soon as the sun was safely over the yard-arm, her husband the Commodore (RN, rtd) and I started on the whisky, which had quite an impact given that I had felt too sick to eat anything all day. I enquired why he and his wife the Captain (USN, rtd) had chosen to call their Labrador “Rear”, and he explained that it was in fact “Rhia”, short for “Rhiannon”. Odd name for a dog, I thought, but let it pass. Instead I asked whether he had any plans to buy her a companion and, when he conceded that the idea had crossed his mind, offered my inspired suggestion that he should acquire a second bitch and call her Goneril. Suitably abbreviated, this would allow him to walk the Cornish lanes yelling “Gonorrhoea!” as he tried to summon his dogs back. I fell about. Everyone else looked at me glumly. I deemed it prudent not to mention my plan to call my next pair of Border terriers “Yoof” and “Uckwit”.

Having been so ill earlier in the day, I should naturally have pushed away the 2lb mountain of roast pork I found on my plate when dinner was finally served. Instead I asked for extra crackling and got stuck into both the meat and the accompanying claret. My guests didn’t stay long afterwards, even though I did my best to make them feel at home by playing my CD of the Band of HM Royal Marines and the other one of Benny Hill’s comedy classics. What could be more appropriate for two sailors, one of whom is American? Maybe it was the threat of Bonnie Tyler that saw them off, or perhaps it was just the ever-present danger that I might attempt to crack another joke.

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