Saturday 26 April 2008

Who on earth was that frightfully rude bloke?

13st 9lb; 5.0 units of alcohol again last night; 1,378; betwixt Peterborough and Corby (as the estate agents do not put it, funnily enough).

I am normally the world’s least price conscious consumer, so I was rather taken aback to find myself thinking “What” (with multiple question and exclamation marks) on two occasions today. First when I stopped at a petrol station on the A1 somewhere south of Scotch Corner and found myself paying 114.9 pence per litre for a tankful of unleaded petrol; and again in the local pub, shortly after my arrival in this delightful Northamptonshire village, when they demanded 70p for a small packet of plain crisps. I thought they came in at around 6d, and included several free blue paper twists of salt. I don’t know what the world is coming to. Is this the result of the Global Food Crisis I keep hearing about?

Still, it was lucky I had those experiences as I was staying in a price-conscious and God-fearing household, and at least it gave us one thing in common that we could talk about.

I went to the pub for a pint of Landlord and a Grunter (a type of local snack salami which was the nearest thing they could offer to the desired packet of pork scratchings) because I was bloody hungry after my long drive from Northumberland; because I always feel that I can relax my dietary regime a bit when I away from the tyranny of my own bathroom scales; and, above all, because it was there. I can never resist a pub. It is only living five miles from the nearest one that has enabled me to lose as much weight as I have done since Christmas. If I lived in a village with a pub next door, I’d be back up to 16 stone before you could say “John Prescott”.

I was, accordingly, in a thoroughly mellow mood when I strolled back to my hosts’ house to intrude upon their little supper party with the local breakfast cereal heiress and her somewhat older husband, who was “something in the City”. Or had been, once. There aren’t many men of his age actually employed in the markets these days, though a fair few still take the train to town and have a very long lunch in order to avoid admitting to the missus that they are in fact free to devote themselves to domestic duties.

I did not distinguish myself. When the very pretty blonde guest made the disarming remark that her mother just lay in bed all day, I should not have asked “Is she an invalid or a whore?” (Answer: neither, apparently; just phenomenally lazy.)

Small wonder that they left early to “go and relieve our babysitter”.

A couple of minutes after they had departed, my host’s wife said, “Hang on, their children are 18 and 20.”

I expect she gave me a pointed look as she said it. And I have no doubt that I thoroughly deserved it.

I just can’t take me anywhere.

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