Are You Drunk, Sir?

God, I hope so.

I’m lookin’ at you, Jimmy,  and if that’s what you look like a’ the time I dinna want to sober up.

The business of being drunk is a curious one. At one time it seemed to be the most frightening and disreputable state of being that you could experience. It was not hard to get to the edge of it when I was 17 –  a small glass of 4.7% Swan Lager was enough to do it to a youth unused to alcohol. Fortunately my parents were smart enough to pour this for me before or during a family dinner and I could be induced to recognise the effects without being out in public or on the road.

Drunk is a relative word – as the police are not your relatives, they apply a more stringent definition of it than the family at a Christmas party, but the basics of it are an altered sense of balance, perception, and thought. When you have altered these enough to be herking on your shoes, you have gone too far, but it is possible to stop before then. And at the prices that they demand for rum these days, you will be straining to get anywhere near the footwear.

I value the afternoon tot of whatever is in the cabinet as a release from the cares of a morning spent not caring about anything in particular. That is the benefit of retirement – you can hand the need to worry to others and then wander off. But that little burst of ethanol opens the hatches and lets the air in and the fumes out. It must have been dreadful when the Royal Navy stopped the rum ration. I’ll bet the Russians issue vodka from a tub to this day.

There are a lot of posts written post-tot. They tend to be brilliantly funny at the time but are censorable the morning after – that is why I never send them while they are fresh. Some survive the editing process next morning and can be transmitted. Some are trashed.

Both you and I are better for that.

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The Family History As A Method Of Torture

I spotted it in a trice – on the shelf of the council library. It was a self-published history of a local family. Paper-bound, A4 size, but about a centimetre thick. I’m a bit hazy about the exact family name but I remember it referred to a country town where they lived and styled them as ” Pioneer Nobility “.

That’s a concept you don’t see all that often in an egalitarian society – but it lurks in the heart of every amateur genealogist. If they can assert that their family is noble, and get you to believe it, they can control the universe.

I come from a mother and a father. They, in their turn, came from mothers and fathers. Funnily enough, so does everyone else riding the N0.507 bus to the train station. And so do you. It is the common experience of mankind to be born because of the combination of a mother and father.

The lucky ones get to know who they were. Even better – they might have gotten to see them for some portion of their lives and can treasure this. But there is a catch to the treasure – a curse, if you will…if you try to grasp too much of it, it turns to fire and burns away your happiness. And that fire can consume all the social oxygen and leave everyone around you asphyxiated.

I met today with a relative of my wife – a pleasant man who is the amateur genealogist for her family. He is good at it and has facts and figures of all the extended family at his fingertips. You have only to sit still long enough and you will find out when in 1887 one cousin shifted addresses in Adelaide, and how we know this, and what it means for the Scottish branch of the family in 1934…

It is not polite to sneer or yawn. Neither is it to run and hide in the toilet or fall lifeless to the carpet. One must look bright and attentive. And not scream.

But, just as with the accounting of dreams, so the history of someone else’s distant family connection to even more distant relations who have done no more than breed and move is the saddest and most banal of communications. No-one wants to know.

None of us are remotely interested in the thing, and unless you can prove in court that you are a direct descendant of a liaison between Benjamin Franklin and Cleopatra, we’re not likely to care. Publish all you like, prattle all you will, thrust forward parish records from the 19th century all you may – We. Don’t. Care.

But let me tell you about my uncle Agnes and the time she met the Kaiser in Woolies…

I Know Where You Live

And I’m going to visit you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

You’ll never see me coming…because I’ll never phone ahead. You’ll hear the doorbell and open it and there I’ll be. And I’ll force my way in and sit down on the sofa.

From then on it’ll be a nightmare of horror. I’ll demand a cup of coffee, and biscuits. Good biscuits. And more than one. And a second cup of coffee.

I’ll want to use the toilet pretty often. And the bathroom. I don’t use guest towels – I use your bath towel. And I’ll be looking in your medicine cabinet, you bet.

Is this a bad time to call? Who cares? I’m here and social mores demand that you cope with it and smile. I know that and will press the visit as long as I can to maximise your discomfort. If it overlaps your meal time you are either going to have to go hungry, invite me to eat ( And I will…) or commit the social blunder of leaving me in the lounge room while you bolt your food. Be sure that everyone in our mutual acquaintance will know of this within hours.

Do you have pets? Expect them to either detest me or love me more than they love you. Whichever it turns out to be, you’ll be sorry. I’ll feed them greasy treats and you’ll be scrubbing the carpet later.

It’s no good hiding behind the sofa. Your car’s out front. You stay crouched behind there long enough and I’m going to get bored and write you a note. ” I called but you were out. ” is particularly poignant when it’s keyed into the duco.

Note: I can always leave something on the mat. Particularly after that bad taco I had for lunch.

Have You Ever Slept With A Woman?

I’ve tried. With limited success.

When you are young you attempt this for a variety of reasons – the chief one being the period of time before you actually go to sleep. You hope to be busy. If you are lucky, both of you can occupy yourselves profitably in this period, and the less said about that the better. Mind you, if there is money involved in that profit, one of you is doing it wrong…

But after that period in your life, the time spent in bed – the bit where you actually go to sleep – can be increasingly difficult. If sleep is wanted, and needed, you require a few simple things; warmth in winter, coolness in summer, a reasonable silence, and lack of movement. As you get older, these become less likely.

Oh, you may be as much a problem as her, and the equation equal on both sides. I’ll leave you to decide who is the culprit. You may wish to set a night-vision camera in motion at dusk to record who steals the covers, thrashes around like a squid, or snorts like a Union Pacific Mallet locomotive going through Ogden. Then replay it to accuse each other. It will be concrete evidence but you’ll never convince the other party that they are guilty.

The chiefest conclusion that you can come to about adults sleeping together is that the old American sit-com TV shows with the parents sleeping in twin beds instead of a double were not as ludicrous as they seemed. They eliminated at least two factors in the blood-shot-eye battles – movement and covers. The noise of snoring, snorting, gurgling or moaning was still there. Fortunately our hearing declines after 60 and this became less of a problem.

The wild card is provided by children or pets who insist on entering the marital bedroom and hogging the marital bed. Neither class of creature respects privacy, personal space, or the need to avoid flatulence. And they have the infuriating habit of sleeping while they prevent others from doing so. It is the reason dog-whips were invented, and recently I found out that you could use these on dogs as well.

Have You Seen The News?…And My Opinion Of The News…?

We get news all day, every day. There’s not a single minute in which another report of another event is not being slotted into our stream of consciousness. The older ways of doing this are becoming passé for many parts of the planet, but there will still be newspapers, broadsheets, and people crying the latest in the village square for the forseeable future. It may be an electric cry, but it’ll be there.

What a burden. Think back to an earlier time – for instance here in Australia during the first years of European settlement. Local news was what you found out personally or were told by a neighbour. A traveller from another port could bring a printed broadsheet or government gazette. Itinerant pack sellers and carters could pass messages – accurate or not – as they went through. But there must have been blessedly long intervals in which nothing more was thrust upon our minds, and they could get on with the business at hand without new anxieties.

I wish that were the case today. I am not pleading for complete ignorance, but I’d appreciate a bit of time to absorb one disaster before I need to wring my hands over the next one. I get sore hands.

I also get a sore head when I see how people on social media take each event, and the reaction to that event by others, as an opportunity to push their own barrow. Whether that barrow contains a political package, a religious suggestion, or a portable virtue flag on a stick, it is still a vehicle that has little to do with the actual occurrence. Fortunately the load is generally of such little value and such light construction that it can be abandoned by the side of the road when the next attractive disaster is reported.

No More Free Speech

Nope. No more. I have declared that there will be no more free speech permitted by the Backstabbers Guild of Australia.

From here on in, anything we say will have to be paid for according to the price list. No more freebies. You want us to talk, you come out with your wallet. Have no fear – we’ll give receipts and an ABN number and we’ll make sure that you get good value for money. But this Guild is a commercial proposition and you cannot expect the business of destroying civilisation and blighting a generation to be done on a friendly basis.

Or, to put it another way – if you have no mates you need not give mate’s rates.

Of course people can say what they will – we have defamation lawyers on speed dial just hoping that you’ll overstep yourself. And we would not dream of restricting people in the practice of their various religions, political affiliations, or disturbing traditional dances. These are all legitimate activities and can serve as worthy targets of treachery. We also welcome serious-minded souls who are unlikely to laugh even if a bear is biting them.

But as far as denouncing them, betraying them, or otherwise making them the nonny-butt of the Guild humour, you’ll need to put down a deposit and pay regular installments before we let them have it.

Business is business, and we are in the business of giving you the business.

The Sucker Man

You see a new hell every day – the hatch opens and the creatures slither out. Sometimes you get to see the demons at work, as well.

Today at 9:30 our local infernal manifestation occurred. No pentangle, no candles, no sulphurous smoke. In fact the truck that arrived was quite clean and had a sign from the Melville City Council on the side. The driver hopped out of it, grabbed a metal hook, and summoned Beelzebub.

The truck was fitted with a vacuum cleaner and a big tank of water – I assume it was a holy water – and the chap proceeded to wash down the storm water drains in our street. Then when the things were awash with political promises and other horrors he used a giant hose from the back of the truck to suck the drain dry. I can only assume that there is a market for the sorts of things that went into that hose – I just pry that it is not in the fast food industry.

Noise? I assume we were hearing doomed screams of tortured souls. And it went on for an hour as he did all the drains in the street. I was crossing myself, lighting incense and candles, and making holy signs all the while, and I’m not religious…

As compensation, we now have the cleanest drains in the city. Just in time for the autumn rains and the next load of gunk.