Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Weekend of Fun

Now that I'm slightly recovered, I can bear to put fingers to keyboard and relate the fun happenings of the weekend.

Koios and Phid arrived in a burst of bonhomie at around 3.45 on Saturday, bearing port with them. No sooner were we installed in the sitting room with cups of tea than Bridie started going bonkers, clearly detecting the tread of Spartan's foot in the drive. She was quite correct. I rushed to greet them, keen to give Spartan succour after his horrific day shopping in Dundee. He'd sent a text at around 3.30 which I giggled over.

"I've got to read this text from Spartan to you," I said to Fisher, at which she said:

"What does it say? Fucking hell, I hate shopping? Oh, wait, no - it's Spartan. He wouldn't be that rude."

"You're right, he wouldn't," I agreed. "He actually says: 'I hate fucking arsing cocksucking wanking shopping!'"

"Oooh," said a big-eyed Fisher, "you better stick the kettle on!"

Tea. The great healer.

So up Blarney and Spartan rocked, pale and weary after battling the Christmas shoppers in Dundee, and we set about easing their tension by giving Spar his belated birthday presents (a PS2 from me, Pro-Evo Soccer from Fisher) and then playing a rousing game of Buzz! The Big Quiz - which proved a mighty triumph for Holly Cottage. Fisher won the first game, I won the second, and Fisher was very reserved in her celebrations, waiting until we were alone before doing the Holly Cottage Jig of Victory and Smugness. Naked.

Not naked. Just my little joke.

Then came the time for us to separate into two groups - those in need of sorrow-drowning over the footie and those, er, not. Strangely, this meant it ended up being the fellers and me who went out to the pub for food and drinks, while Fisher, Koios, Blarney and Lu stayed in. I have no real idea what escapades they got up to, but Koios said they had a very girly chat about children and stuff while Blarney fell asleep at 12.15, in the manner usually adopted by Koios.

Meanwhile, we were dropped at the Dairsie Inn for our food and drink session. We walked through to the restaurant, with its lovely 1970s carpet and a few tables of fellow diners (a family with 6 year old in bright pink coat, an elderly double date, and a quiet, nerdy couple), and Protagoras practically wet his pants.

"There's prawn cocktail on the menu!" he choked.

"Is there?" I laughed. "Is there melon as well?"

The smile faded when I discovered that, yes, there was melon on the menu as well. Seriously. This, as a starter, was pretty damn tame even when melons were hard to come by. Now it's a joke! Like offering a sliced apple for a starter. So, obviously, I had to order it.

Yes - so, it wasn't exactly the rowdy, party-hearty pub suitable for a drinking and shouting session - in fact, it was a one way ticket to 1978 and your grandmother's living room - but did we let that stop us?

We did not!

After a rock and roll dinner of melon starter, and poached salmon main course (for me - the gents had game pie for mains and prawn cocktails) and a couple of pints, we moved through to the 'game' room. It was a 'game' room because there were 3 board games stacked up on a chair - which we studiously ignored. The night wore on, the chat was varied, free-flowing and funny, and, at 11pm the landlady - a deeply miserable looking woman - declared it last orders.

Last orders? At 11pm on a Saturday night?

"We've got a license until 11.30," she lied, blithely, "so you have to be out by 11.20."

Jesus. What a welcoming establishment. I've never known a single place to have a license until 11.30 rather than 12, and to have last orders a full half hour before closing time, when we're the only people in the place, is ridiculous. Still, we had a final round of beer and whisky chasers (ok, I was sensible enough to know that if, on my 4th pint, I started in on the whisky chasers I would not see tomorrow - and would possibly only wake up on January 3rd - so I stuck to beer) and then grabbed a cab.

Back at HC, the laydeez were looking suitably settled in to their wine and chat. I hoiked out the array of whiskies and the fellas got stuck in, while I discreetly and cowardly ... ly sipped yet more beer.

(Oo - another small point about drinking with the gents is how very, very little they need to pee. Uncanny. I felt like a leaky sieve in comparison.)

We didn't really intend to stay separate, but that's what happened. After a bit more chat, the gents and I started playing table football - and then I commented that I actually had Subbuteo in my cupboard. This idea was quickly adopted, the green baize laid out, and the players (one of which was sadly decapitated) laid out in their peculiar 3-4-3 formation. There was the usual debate about rules, followed by the usual argument about whether the pitch needed ironing, which was all settled with the usual statement of:

"Ah, bollocks to it! Let's just play!"

Which we did. Arrow and Pro took the Kop end, Spartan and I were the visitors.

Subbuteo consists of 2 halves of 10 minutes each - a rule which, owing to the 'excitement' of the game, went slightly out of the window. We had one half.

Of two hours.

By the time the clock hit 2.30am my eyes were starting to cross with both tiredness and my state of inebriation, so I declared there be a 3 minute 'extra time' period.

Frantic flicking then ensued, Spartan won the ball and - in some manner of miracle - managed, in the last 30 seconds of this epic battle, to win the game for us! All of which brought the final score to an astonishing ...


Yes, folks, 2 hours of game play brought a single, solitary goal, in the final 30 seconds. Is it any wonder Spar and I clasped one another to our respective bosoms and danced about the kitchen, cheering?

God, it was like watching Spanish football.

So, our victory complete, Spar and I wandered through to watch Match of the Day, while Arrow and Lu bade us farewell and caught a cab home. Pro joined us for the first half hour of the programme, but when he started snoring I woke him and suggested he call it a day. This he did. Spar and I managed to make it to the end of MotD and even drunkenly tally up our Fantasy Footie scores before sleep overcame us, and we stumbled to our respective pits. Fisher was already tucked up by the time I got there, as she had to get up by 9.30 in order to meet her ex-Guardian outside Edinburgh on the morrow. She wasn't asleep, though, and was awake enough to tell me she'd had a lovely evening and that, no, nobody had missed me.

Predictably, my awakening on Sunday morning was somewhat horrific. First of all, I woke when Fisher woke, meaning the full force of my hangover was inflicted upon me when I might, otherwise, have slept through the worst of it. I lay, shivering and wishing, not for the first time, I were of temperate nature, until I hit on the bright idea of sticking Northern Exposure on the DVD and distracting myself with the most irritating hero of all time - the excellent Rob Morrow's Joel Fleischman. I got through 2 episodes before I felt alive enough to wander tentatively downstairs and join my guests - all of whom were looking obnoxiously perky. Especially those whisky-swilling gits, Pro and Spar.

After a bit of wandering around, talking to milling dogs (we have 2 guests at the moment - Jake and Sally, the lovely, utterly soft Border Collies) and swigging of water, I felt recovered enough to cook up some brunch of scrambled eggs, bacon and muffins. We sat, ate, and enjoyed the pleasure of company for which one need make no allowances, and in which everyone is completely at ease.

Brunch completed, we then embarked on a little Sunday Stuff. First, we bowed to Koios's sudden overwhelming urge to play Countdown. My brain was just starting to remember it had a hangover, and add mental arithmetic to the mix and I was soon struggling against a proper mind-buster. Not, I hasten to add, it would have made any difference. I can only ever do the numbers game if I'm alone - and even then, I rarely get it right. I'm the world's biggest mathematical idiot. Usually the letters game sees me through, but not this time! Koios romped to victory by 2 points, leaving a newly returned Fisher to settle for second place and do the Furious Dance of Loss and Shame. Naked.

Not naked. Well ... not very naked.

Next, Spar, Pro and I watched Man U play Liverpool, which - as usual - promised much but presented very little (Man U won 1-0 in a game with moments of excitement and a lot of dull, stop-start stuff). Alas, we lost Spar and Blar after the footie as they had errands to run and a friend to visit in hospital, so we bade them fond farewell and Happy Christmas.

Next up was last week's repeat of the very excellent Cranford, which Hils had missed last Sunday - and we suddenly started feeling rather hungry. Pizza was suggested, pizza cheered, and pizza ordered. Fisher and Koios kindly went out to collect it (we're too rural for a pizza delivery company), while Pro and I watched Arsenal v Chelsea (slightly less dull, but watching the Gooners win anything is a painful experience).

Pizza was the perfect end to the visit, and at around 7, Pro and Koios gathered their bags and headed off into the cold, back to Edinburgh and preparations for work the next day - at least for Koios. Pro is off for the Christmas hols now - although he does have rather a lot of marking to be done.

With the final crunch of gravel, Fisher and I were alone again. We flopped happily on the sofa, most happy with our lot, and managed to stay awake through the final, tear-jerking episode of Cranford. I do believe Judi Dench to be the finest actor alive in the world, but the rest of the Cranford cast was just as impressive. Maybe not the young, romantic leads - but then, nowadays I couldn't give two figs for love stories involving boring, traditional characters. It was much more touching when it was Judi Dench and Michael Gambon kindling the flames of an old romance. Young, pretty people in love are just so insipid.

So that was that. Cranford watched, tears surreptitiously wiped away, all other pottering done, we collapsed into bed with sighs of content. A lovely weekend with lovely friends. What more could we ask for?