Big Boy is tying the knot again – third time lucky, you might say. And this could be my big chance to redeem myself – to offset the mordant humour, and persecution of Namibian over the previous blog entries. It could have been…but where is the fun in that?
That terrible old curmudgeon (my dear old friend, Namibian) is settling, once again, for suffering until death. Well, it shouldn’t last long, then – six more birthdays is the time span I estimate before expiry. Regardless, Namibian is finally making an honest woman out of his long-standing partner, Janet. And I, obviously, am the best man.
‘I know it’s a long way for you to come,’ croaks Namibian on the telephone, ‘so I’ve booked you a hotel room…and a woman for the night.’ Ooh, a concubine – how thoughtful, a truly generous gesture. I wonder how ghastly she will be. Perhaps I ought to know a little more? ‘She’s one of Janet’s friends, and she’s seen the pictures of us on tour,’ he continues. Ah, the fog is beginning to clear.
It is one thing to hook up for a drink on a blind date, but to share a bed as a forgone conclusion… Well, she sounds very sporting. Then the penny drops. Janet is in her fifties; any friend of hers is likely to be appreciably older than me. ‘
Her name is Dawn,’ continues Namibian, ‘and she’s 37.’ An incoming mobile phone picture does little to aid decisions, but then Dawn – or Dirty Dawn, as I prefer to call her – telephones me. Help! I’ve got a stalker.
‘I hope you’re up for it, like, at the wedding,’ she drones in a northern monotone. She is calling from Doncaster, a safe 230 miles from my headquarters in Hastings.
I’m temporarily speechless. This girl – who, incidentally, turns out to be considerably closer to 50 – has never met me. A note of desperation has crept into the conversation, I feel. Namibian very kindly cancels the room.
Let’s move forward in time, to the eve before the big day. Ten hours now stand between the wedding and an inebriated Namibian. As the appointed hour draws ever closer, I notice he is absolutely sozzled. Bristling with complexity, of course, but dead drunk.
‘Barny’s been brilliant over the years,’ he starts, before burping and wobbling. He stumbles from his perch on the sofa arm, narrowly avoiding the coffee table. Coo, he would have been in trouble with the wife if that recently replenished whisky and Coke had gone on the carpet.
He rises unsteadily, a picture of sophistication. ‘Barny’s been brilliant over the years,’ he begins again, incoherently. He’s slurring splendidly now as he dithers in the kitchen, clearing the remains of a foul supermarket curry. Samosas head from the plate to the floor, bypassing both his notice and the open bin liner.
With a little prompting, he folds from the waist – knees incapable of bending – to industriously sweep up the carbohydrates. I just don’t know how he gets his arms past his stomach. Namibian straightens, pleased with himself, his face a fetching shade of vermilion. Samosas are still strewn across the kitchen floor.
Approximately a litre of whisky has been consumed by now. Tina Turner continues to loop on the CD player, and friends who have driven up from the south of England are looking tired.
‘I’m getting married in the morning,’ sings a happy Namibian, his belly jiggling as an ad hoc accompaniment. It is the morning already, I point out, through clenched teeth. When he mentions that his sister’s boobs are looking great, we all decide it might be time for bed.
When our trucks are parked side by side, I never hear a squeak. But, entering his room at 8am, I am faced with a cacophony. Snoring, choking, audible emissions – Crumbs, I’d be exhausted if I had to endure all that every night. Poor old Janet, is all I can say.
‘They should ban alcohol in this country,’ groans Namibian, when I finally succeed in rousing him. Rousing, I said, not arousing. He pads off to make the first of five cups of coffee.
‘You can follow me, for a change,’ he says proudly, as our cavalcade (consisting of a reasonable 4×4 and my old banger of a motor car) leaves for central Doncaster. The wedding itself goes swimmingly, although it feels a little clinical – marriages in this particular Registry Office take place every fifteen minutes. In fact, if arriving too promptly, it isn’t difficult to gatecrash another betrothed couple’s special moment by mistake.
Once responsibility of holding the rings is relinquished, and I sign the register as a witness, I can relax. Yes, Namibian has selflessly released me from any speech duties – partly because I have too much dirt on him, I think.
Still, I’m not complaining. It only remains, then, for me to have your attention for a moment and raise your glasses… in a toast to the happy couple. To Namibian the Seducer; To Namibian the Puritanical. Here, here.