I couldn’d say I relished the idea of a liquor free environment.
You see, I had this problem.
It was a massive problem.
An outrageously awesome problem that ruled my entire existence.
And I wouldn’t care, but it wasn’t even my problem!
It was just that it was mine to solve.
And I’m aware that I’ve lost you dear reader, but all will become clear as the story unfolds, of that I promise you.
But for now, let’s just say I’d chosen to do a job, to complete a mission as it were…and it was doing my bloody head in!
My predicament at the time, was that I had come to a complete and utter stand still with this quest, I couldn’t see one way forward.
I’d tried everywhich way to move it onwards and failed dismally. It depressed the fook out of me when I looked back at the sheer volume of work I’d put into this thing over the years only to get big fat nowhere!
And if your thinking this job was something I got paid to do, you’d be wrong, it cost me, in more ways than monetary!
But I’d reached an impasse. I simply could not see a way forward and it was causing me unending grief. This duty of mine was on my mind day and night, there was no escape from it, it wouldn’t leave me alone. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep unless it was alcohol induced. I’d just lay there, my mind going full pelt, imagining the horrors that would result if I failed to complete this undertaking. I could barely believe the madness of what had become my life. Yet still I was searching for a way under, over or around this seemingly insurmountable obstacle that was mine to breach.
I was still wrestling with my conscience as regarded the old sleeping tonic and was beginning to wallow in self-pity. All my cheap to produce homebrew beer had been consumed… the other reason for my balloning weight! I’d started making home brew beer a few years previously, to wean myself off the rum, which is another story in its own right. But there and then saw not a drop of alcohol in the entire house, apart from my home made rhubarb wine, which wasn’t quite ready for consumption.
I looked at the clock, I had ten minutes before the shop shut! It was now or never, I thought.
Aw sod it, one more wouldn’t hurt…so I grabbed my bag and bolted to the shop.
I selected a bottle of red wine off the shelf, considering it to be the healthiest option, then waited in line to be served.
I couldn’t help but notice that every purchase before me was for booze of some description or another.
“It must be the alchy run?” I quiped.
A few people laughed.
“Yeah, it’s a case of…oh my God the shop will be shut soon, do I or do I not need a drink?” Someone put in, “then it’s a quick dash to the dispencery of the destressing agent!”
There were sniggers all round and I was getting closer to the counter.
“We sell more alcohol in the last half hour of opening than we do at any other time of day.” The shop-keeper added.
“Well McGivitup has given me orders to pack it in,” I informed anyone who was listening, “I’ve got high blood pressure, alcohol induced high blood pressure no doubt!”
The shop-keeper started making funny faces in my general direction.
“But never mind eh,” I ploughed on waving my bottle of red in the air, “my new drug dealer has given me a pill that will ensure I survive a final fling with my lover!”
I got served but the shop-keeper had suddenly lost her tongue.
I turned to leave and walked slap-bang-wallop straight into McGivitup!
But guess what?
He was doing his best, to secrete about his person, a bottle of risky whisky! He was on the alchy run as well!
But needless to say, I slunk home feeling extremely embarrassed that he had not only caught me buying a bottle of the old inebriating fluid, against the advice he had given me only hours before, but he had also heard me calling him a drug dealer in public! Whoops!
The next day I’m on the disused railway line walking the dog and enjoying a sly fag, when suddenly a cyclist hurtles towards me, all lycra, helmit and goggles.
He clocks me before I realise who it is?
And yes, you’ve guessed it…McGivitup!
I swear, that man will get where a draught won’t!
Then, the evening before I was due to consult the big man again, the unheard of happened.
My eldest daughter Sparah, took both of my younger kids to stay at her gaff, for the whole night! She didn’t usually feel capable of coping with both of them along with her own two, but Mini Me, my youngest daughter, was proving to be a dab hand at tidying up and Jah boy, my youngest son, was a whizz at keeping little kids entertained, so she risked her sanity.
I was free!
The Top Dog, that is darling hubby, suggested that I should go down to the pub, where he was the chef, to meet him from work and then have a drink!
Me who had been medically ordered to stop imbibing, go to the pub?
Since the shop incident, I’d been doing my best to cut down on my nightly ration of the sleeping potion. I’d managed to cut down to half a bottle of red as opposed to a full one.
Aw stuff it, I thought, it was a rarity for me and The Top Dog to get time out alone, a couple of pints after he’d finished his shift was no worse than half a bottle of red, I decided.
I rolled up at the pub at nine thirty.
There appeared to be a raucous party going on in the snug. Ear splitting shrieks and thunderous laughter emitted from the room as I made my way to the kitchen to announce my arrival.
“Your sisters here.” The Top Dog warned, just as one of her drunken gang stumbled into the kitchen with an empty plate, while loudly demanding pudding.
An unsteady body lurched towards me.
“Hi ya Con, does your lass know your here?” The body asked, as an arm was flung around my shoulder and the plate crashed to the floor.
“Get her out of my fecking kitchen!” The Top Dog roared as he deftly moved about the place, putting puddings in the oven, pots in the sink and grabbing a pan in one hand, while opening the fridge for cream with the other.
I ushered Lil Sis’s wobbly friend back to the snug, where I was met with loud greetings.
Lil Sis was still finishing her meal and appeared to be remarkably sober compared to her friends. She was drinking fruit juice I observed, so she must have drawn the short straw and been nominated driver for the night.
Once greetings had been exchanged, I turned to the hatch to order a pint. All the locals know that you get served quicker in the snug than you do in the main bar.
Pint in hand, I was just turning to talk to Lil Sis when fook me sideways who should walk into the hallway but McGivitup!
Quick as a flash, while he was hanging his coat up, and amid quizical looks from Lil Sis and her cronies, I swapped my pint for Lil Sis’s fruit juice!
“Hello Constantine,” McGivitup smiled as he squeezed past me to get to the hatch to order, “it’s nice to see you’ve ended your affair.” He grinned wickedly as he nodded at the fruit juice.
Once he’d got the tray of drinks for himself and his friends, he moved off into the main bar.
“Who was that?” Lil Sis demanded. “What affair? And why have you nicked my drink?”
“My doctor.” I shot back. “And before you ask…don’t!” I pre-empted. “I’ll tell you later okay?”
I took off for the kitchen, hoping to hide, but The Top Dog was just walking out of the door having finished his shift, so, still clutching Lil Sis’s drink, I was lead into the main bar.
It just so happened there was a table available next to McGivitup’s…well there would be wouldn’t there?
He appeared to be having some sort of intellectual disagreement with one of his friends.
Yeah okay, I was ear-wigging!
“All the signs are there I tell you!” Said docs friend, with what can only be described as passion.
“So the world is going to end?” The doc replied with something that sounded very much akin to scorn.
“Damn it man…that’s not what I’m saying and you know it’s not!”
This was getting interesting.
I took a swig of Lil Sis’s fruit juice and almost bloody wellen choked!
The fruit juice was laced with a healthy amount of rum…a very healthy amount, or unhealthy, depending on which way you choose to look at it…but take it from me, there was more rum in that glass than there was fruit juice! And I was coughing and spluttering like a good un!
I was beginning to draw attention from the doc and his pals. So I calmed myself down and began sipping sedately from the rum laced glass. Now me sipping sedately when I’m feeling self-conscious amounts to gulping! The drink was soon three quarters gone and I was beginning to feel decidedly pissed!
Just then, Lil Sis stomped through from the snug with my pint in hand, she marched directly up to our table and slammed the pint in front of me, then in a very loud voice demanded, “where’s my quadruple rum?”
“But I thought you were driving, I thought it was fruit juice.” I attempted to defend myself, squirming with mortification, as all eyes, including the docs, were on me!
“No,” she stated, just as loudly, “we’ve got a mini-bus to take us home, but because I was late getting here, I was trying to catch up with that lot through there,” she pointed, “but then you ran off with my bloody drink and left me with a poxy pint! You owe me a quadruple rum and orange!”
I duly went to the bar and replaced her drink.
“And don’t forget your looking after my kids tomorrow?” She threw back as she stomped off to the snug.
I turned to return to my seat, doing my best not to make eye contact with McGivitup.
But it would have been impossible to make eye contact with him because he had his head down, eyes buried in his hands, while his shoulders were quaking!
The bastard was laughing at my dilemma!
Still, thanks to that highly humiliating interlude, instead of feeling there was nowhere else for me to go as regarded my quest, I was beginning to see a tiny little speck of light glimmering at the end of a long black tunnel.
Things could be looking up if I played my cards right.
I had to concede though, the respectable housewife image I’d been portraying for the docs benefit over the years, had gone clean out of the window! But I barely cared anymore. A plan was forming!
I was back in the waiting room at the surgery. And unlike prior visits I’d all but galloped there.
Lil Sis had been delayed at work, consequently by the time she’d collected her ankle biters, I had just over five minutes to race for my appointment.
My heart was beating like a demented drummer! And that was without the ‘fun and games?’ the little darlings had put me through. I tell you, some glutton for punishment once said, let the little children come unto me. He must have been off his bleedin’ rocker!
Still, at least I wouldn’t have much time to dwell on the thought of coming face to face with McGivitup after the debacle that had gone before.
Oh God, I cringed just thinking about it!
“Constantine Payne to see McGivitup please.” Came the call, before I’d had the remotest chance to compose myself, the one time they were running to schedual and it had to be this one!
I swear he had a twinkle in his eye when I entered that room!
“So how is it going?” He asked, obviously battling to keep a straight face.
“Oh you know, the usual.”
“Right then, let’s see how the blood pressure is doing.”
“Aw doc, that’s not fair, I haven’t had time to compose myself yet. I’ve had to race to get here and I’ve only just been released from my sisters tear away kids.”
“So how do you cope with four children in your care?” He asked, giving me the space to calm down.
“Mine didn’t get home until lunch time, having stayed at their sisters, so I’ve only had four for half of today,” I nit picked, playing for calm time, “but I cope with them fine usually.”
“What do you mean by usually?”
“Well my last two hours have been spent in what you might call, a flurry.”
“What have they been up to?” The doc smiled with an obvious insight into childhood mischief.
“They had a pillow fight at the top of the stairs, on the landing,” I stated with my one is not amused voice, “feather pillows I might add, my best ones that I inherited off my grandmother who made them herself. Well one burst didn’t it! I tell you doc, it looked as if there had been a chicken massacre, there were bloody feathers everywhere, even the poor dog took on the appearance of an ostrich, his usual black and white became matted with duck down! But then the darling loves turned into deranged chickens themselves and began tear arsing through the feathery mist like little whirlwinds, speading the mess equally over the entire house! So if my blood pressure is up, that’s why!”
McGivitup’s face cracked with laughter.
“How did you cope with that?” He asked attempting to be professional again, “did you get stressed?”
“Well not stressed stressed, if you know what I mean? I could have ripped the little sods heads off for causing me a nightmare of cleaning up, but as stress goes, I rate a visit to casualty as being the worst offender. My eldest son, Saladin, was accident prone as a child. Visits to casualty with him were an annual event…and witnessing any child in pain is stressful enough, but when it’s your own, well, the stress levels go off the mark! You end up a gibbering wreck! And I should know!”
“Have you any demons you want to talk about Constantine?” The doc gently probed, changing tack completely and catching me totally unawares.
Aw bollocks here we go!
How in Gods name was I going to answer that one?
I mean, I wanted to be honest, I really did.
It was just that my demons weren’t exactly demons…it was a fecking Diety I was landed with! It was trully and absolutely bizarre, but answer that one if you can…and I couldn’t, it was way too complex to condense into a few short words.
McGivitup noted my perplexed expression.
“Have you any family problems?”
I laughed out loud.
“If only it were that simple!” I sighed, “no, my family are a joy…although don’t you dare tell them I said that,” I leapt at him earnestly, “somebody has to keep on their cases and ensure they remain responsible human beings who do the right thing and help attain peace and harmony wherever they may go! And I’m on their cases, not that they need it…it’s just that they are lacking with home based chores of the more mundain kind! You know, washing the pots, cleaning the bathroom after themselves, putting things away, that sort of urksome shit! But no, as regards the serious stuff in life, my family are the top, I wouldn’t swap them for the world, they are well sound.”
“But there is something worrying you?” He persisted.
“You could say that!” I vastly understated.
“Is it something from your past?”
“I suppose you could say that as well,” I wryly smiled, “it depends on how far you want to go back?” I wickedly chuckled at my own private joke.
“How was your childhood?” He wrongly speculated, not one to give up.
“Beautiful, magical, wonderful,” he didn’t expect that! “Although you never appreciate what you’ve got at the time do you?” I stated nostalgically.
“Would you like to talk about whatever it is that is worrying you?” He gently probed, obviously becoming curious of the intrigue that was my life.
“Have you six months to spare?” I asked him deadpan with raised questioning eyebrows.
“Would you like me to refer you for therapy?”
“A shrink…me! God no! I’d be commited in no time!”
I did it again, said too much!
He was inquisitive, I could see it in his eyes, he wanted the answers to the questions that were the mystery, that was my life.
“I could talk to you.” I ventured.
He was gripped.
“Although it would have to be out of office hours, as it were,” I blundered on, “otherwise it would take up far too much time.”
“What do you suggest?” He’d taken the bait.
“When are you going on your next bike ride?”
“Why?” He asked, aready knowing the answer.
“Because I could come along with you and unburdon this madness that is my life once and for all time!” I braved.
He appeared thoughtful.
He liked the idea, I could tell he did, but he was looking on the negative side.
“I’m not sure it would be ethical.” He finally said, “doctors aren’t supposed to have relationships with their patients.”
“I want to talk to you, not shag you!” I swear it just slipped off my lips…but it broke a grin on his face.
“How come, all the years I’ve been treating you, I never discovered just what a character you are?” He bemusedly shook his head.
“Sheer luck I guess.” I proffered.
“There is one thing,” McGivitup stated rather earnestly. “I wouldn’t be able to uphold the confidentuality of a normal doctor patient relationship. I would have to share anything that passes between us with my wife.”
“That’s fine by me,” I grinned, “share it with who ever you want, the whole world if you so desire, you’d be doing me a favour if you did.”
“I have to admit, you have me intrigued.”
Then he got back to business and took my blood pressure. It was still a little on the high side, so he doubled my dose of the beta blockers.
I rose to leave and had just reached the door when…
“I have an afternoon free tomorrow, I’ll meet you at the cricket field at noon, if that’s alright with you?”
I had a date with the doc!
“But,” he carried on, not looking up from his computer, “if I do this for you, you have to do something for me.”
“Fire away doc.”
“I want you to make a ‘real’ effort to give up the drink and the smokes!”
Pigs big fat bloody arseholes!
“You’ll do more than try, you’ll succeed!”
I had to give it to the man, he drove a hard bargain. I told you he was out for the cure didn’t I?
“See you tomorrow doc.”