Happy New Year tae ye all! I had a great festive season. I restricted my visits to the pub to a couple of hours only on Christmas day - big effing result! Those of you that might read this blog occasionally know that himself likes to spend some time in our 17th century village inn. Personally I can't be arsed much of the time and like to stay at home instead although a Friday night up there for the odd sherry here and there has become a bit of a ritual in this household. Having said that, I truly cannot be arsed drinking through the day and suffering a hideous hangover as I start to sober up around tea time - much better in those situations to drink your way through and wake up in hospital the next day after having your stomach pumped and feeling smugly superb as though you've been on a detox weekend. You also don't give a monkey's as to whether the food turned out okay or not and as such enjoy a completely stress free day where the only memories you have are the ones you care to manufacture out of that jumbled pile of vague flashbacks that haunt you every two minutes or so over the following week.
And so, determined that I would resist the constant moaning of himself that, "the pub had been opened about an hour or so already and that if we didn't get up there soon some cheeky no-mates kind of sad looser type who only visited the pub on Christmas day would have nicked our table by the inglenook open fireplace and we'd have to stand all day", I encouraged him to swan off up there with our good pal Mr P who with his lady wifie and other good pal Mrs P was due to come to dinner with us later in the day anyway. Having waved himself off before slamming the door on his arse to make sure he had cleared off, I continued with my planned ritual to remain at home thus peacefully bathing in ass's milk and contemplating prepping a few bits of nosh here and there so as to cut down on the domestic stuff whilst our guests were here later on. It was a civilised and joyful start to Christmas day as ever I have had. After a leisurely couple of hours, I made my way along the three minute journey between home and inn and entered a pub full of good cheer, high spirits and red nosed drinkers with contented almost sleepy smiles and glassy eyes making their slightly unsteady preparations of winter coat donning and the wrapping of chunkily knitted winter scarves around necks before warily braving the cold in the crisp but sunny day towards home for the Christmas lunches awaiting them.
Working my way through the by now thinning throng of drinkers, I soon located himself and Mr P sitting happily by the inglenook fireplace with contented little Guinness laden bellies, both sporting red Santa like shiny faces engendered from the heat of the fire and the consumption of mucho pinto's of beero. 'Twas a sight to behold - two wee happy bezzie mates filled to the brim with festive cheer and the anticipation that a belting big dinner was awaiting their consumption to round off the day. Soon Mrs P joined us and we each snaffled two small glasses of wine before heading off home to get the dinner on the go.
It was a terribly good natured day with lots of laughter and good will from friends and strangers alike as we made the short journey home. Unfastening zips and poppers and removing coats and hats, a knock on the door meant that more good friends and neighbours joined us for an impromptu drink around our kitchen table. As Robbie Burns is oft' quoted, from his To a Mouse poem "the best laid plans o' mice and men, often go awry". But not in this case for it was the first festive season that Mr and Mrs P were not slaving away managing our local inn as they had done for the previous four years before it was sold onwards to our current new owners; it was the first festive season as happy punters on the right side of the bar and as such, free to enjoy the day as the rest of us had done so for many a year before; it was a delight for us to share the day with them and the inclusion of our other neighbours into the mix was a delightful addition to the merriment and hilarity of the day; it is a happiness that our door is open enough for people to feel comfortable in paying a visit without a formal invitation to do so.
Dinner was grand and we ate too much but not so much that we were unbearably uncomfortable. A top up of the wine glasses and a mutual agreement to have the pudding later on, we left the table and settled down in our hugely comfortable recliner chairs to do nothing more taxing than idle contented chit chat and to watch a bit of telly. The twinkly glow of the white fairy lights of the silver, green and red baubled decorated Christmas tree, the soft shadowy light cast by the various burning candles coupled with relaxing scent of the real pine tree and the essential oils of the candles alongside the open coal fire created an atmosphere so tranquil that you'd be hard pushed to find any better an environment for which to de-stress and unwind. Such was the soporific effect of the food, wine, heat, scents and exhaustion from laughter it wasn't long before Mrs P, who works the hardest and longest of all of us, was gently slumbering with her head slumped back, feet up and a huge enigmatic smile on her face. This is not an unusual occurrence as Mrs P never stops until she stops and then she stops good - a wham bam thud like she has hit a brick wall at full pelt. For this she is forgiven; for this she is loved because it is simply her and the way she is; that she feels so comfortable in our midst is entirely right and proper to us for our home is her home for the short time she is conscious in it.
It wasn't long before I became aware that Mr P too had headed the same way as Mrs P. Given he had been drinking rather earlier in the day than myself and Mrs P he could be forgiven for needing a restorative nap. His chosen position was head slumped forward with his chin resting on his chest, arms resting by his side with his feet tucked in towards his body - he looked rather like he had been shot in a hit and run drive past. Himself and I smiled gently to each other for we like nothing better than our guests to pass out so that there is no squabbling over the remote control and we can get on with the business of watching what we want instead of being polite to them. Err, actually what I mean is that we are delighted that our two great pals, Mr and Mrs P are like family in that if they want a nap, then as with all of us, they just go ahead and no need to worry what others think as there is simply no need.
I sank back further in my super duper recliner and felt enormous contentment as I sipped my red wine and enjoyed the companionable silence broken by the low telly dialogue and the odd snore or two from the unconscious guests. It wasn't long though before a snort to my left indicated to me that himself had also taken a stroll off into the land of nod, no doubt frequenting with Mr and Mrs P in that hinterland of alcohol induced coma. Well, bugger me, Himself's chosen position to nod off in was with his body in full recline, head slumped to one side with his arms flailed outwards, two dogs slumped over him and acting as a further heat generator - and God only knows how he didn't start convulsing with a probable body temperature that would melt steel. It crossed my mind that he reminded me of a fallen murder victim and I was fair tempted to get a piece of chalk and make one of those chalk outlines on the black leather recliner for him to have a look at when he came round later on.
I sat up in my chair a bit and reviewed the scene before me. Feeling jolly merry from the wine I started to laugh and then the more I tried to stop it lest I wake them all, I started to laugh even harder to the point I almost wet myself trying to hold the laughter in. I kept stopping and starting and each time it became harder to keep any kind of control. "Fuck me", I said to myself through the laughter as I bit on my balled fist in an attempt to stem the rising hilarity. "It's like a fucking care home in here". The only thing missing was the smell of boiled cabbage and wee but I imagined that if I sat there any longer I would no doubt be supplying one of those odour's pretty soon if I couldn't control the laughter.
I needn't have worried about waking any of them. They were much too comfortable and content as was I. Y'see Mrs P and I have had a hard time of it over the past few years what with our simultaneous and joint suffering of the menopause. We have narked at each other, avoided each other when we wanted to rip each other's heads off. We've commiserated with each other about our severe symptoms, shared tips on what works and what to do when it suddenly doesn't and so on. We started off as great friends, our husbands are good friends and it works terrifically well. That's the thing about great friendship - it survives changes, trials, challenges and comes back together if it was ever worth a toss in the first place - we've successfully stayed the course and it is a better friendship for it. Now that we have things more under control, we laugh again, tease each other, help each other out and just enjoy the friendship. There is no one more like family or has earned the right to kip in my home after a good meal and a few drinks. God knows, if himself and me worked as hard as she does, we'd have no trouble falling asleep in her company and feeling no ill about it either.
Order was restored an hour or so later and we all retired to bed. They respectfully left around 8am the next morning and let us sleep in. We'd arranged to meet up at their place later that day where she returned the favour and made dinner, plied us with drink and was a terrific host. So there it was then, their first festive season as Joe Public instead of landlords and hopefully, they will remember it as fondly and with affection as we do. We've talked endlessly in the past about the four of us buying a retirement home in a hot country and retiring together. I saw a glimpse of that on Christmas day night, and do you know what? There's worse that can happen than to hole up, decrepit and disabled but with mates you can drop off in front of and have a laugh with when you come round again.