Brian, an old friend from years ago paid me a surprise visit last night. He made me go to the pub and get drunk. You can’t say no to Brian. He is a bluff and hearty Glaswegian and very strong and very persuasive.
‘I don’t really get drunk anymore, Brian. Apart from the physical crapulence, it leaves me poisoned by depression,’ I pleaded with him. ‘I no longer have any purchase in that world.’
‘Och, shut your cakehole, you pretentious old recluse,’ he told me. ‘You’re coming with me and you’re gonna get pissed and you’re gonna enjoy it.’ So you see: I had no choice.
It was a lovely evening and went by in a flash. We talked about old times and absent friends. We reminisced about the days we both worked as Bingo callers in Mansfield and how we were required to learn CPR, due to us having to attend regularly to old-aged pensioners who would suffer massive heart attacks whenever they came close to winning the daily jackpot. Every month, some old dear would get over-excited while waiting for one number and suddenly collapse in agony and die. How we used to laugh!
On returning to the house around midnight, we were surprised to see that the young couple who live opposite in number 84 were doing a midnight flit – moving out of their house under cover of the night. There was a huge van parked outside the little terraced house which was being filled very steadily and very quietly with their furniture and modest belongings. Being the helpful and gregarious soul that he is, Brian could not resist crossing the street to give them a hand. ‘Don’t, Brian,’ I told him. ‘You’re completely rat-arsed. It will only end in disaster.’
‘Ahgrr-ahhr och-aye the noo, ya big Sassenach,’ he hissed, flapping his arms in irritation.
I decided not to join him, but watching through the lounge window, I was immensely relieved to see the whole enterprise being conducted in a very efficient and capable manner. Brian had quickly taken control of the situation and his presence was clearly appreciated. My fears were allayed.
The affects of the alcohol in his system seemed to have disappeared – he had suddenly become quite lucid. He was busily organising everybody and ordering them around with potent enthusiasm and, at times, a certain amount of bald Scottish aggression. I heard him return to the house about 3am.
When I arose this morning, he was gone. There was a note on the kitchen table that said: ‘See you in another ten years!’ Next to the note was a big bottle of whisky with a garish tartan ribbon tied loosely around its neck.