We drive down to the Himmlers (my in-laws) for the weekend. Very weird scenes: everything different now we are married. For a start, I see Mrs Himmler naked three times in two days. Trust me when I tell you that this is not something that anyone wants to see.
The first time is on the Saturday morning. I'm sitting on the john when the door opens and she walks right in. She is totally naked apart from a pair of furry slippers and I am half way through my business. She smiles at me in a bleary-eyed kind of way but carries on towards the sink to pick up some denture glass thing. I'm frozen mid-squeeze. She checks herself out in the mirror, looks depressed and then walks back, giving me a wan smile before exiting. This totally puts me off my duties, so I clean up and go tell Victoria what just happened. She thinks it's hilarious and tells me that I'm irresistible to women and that her mum is clearly hitting on me. She's joking, but it makes me feel quite sick.
We go down for breakfast, which is always a big, complicated affair. There is a table groaning with food under big silver bowls. You have to go serve yourself like a buffet and then sit down in pre-ordained places. Mr Himmler has a thing called "kedgeree", which is a kind of yellow rice curry. It makes his breath stink all day, but he swears that it keeps him healthy and apparently gets very upset if he stays somewhere where it is not available.
He was born in India, where his father was something to do with quelling the natives, so he has a couple of oriental quirks like this (he once showed me a nasty-looking curved sword that he keeps in the garages – he claimed that his father had killed five Sikhs with it in some uprising. Quite why he didn't use a gun was not discussed, but he started swishing it through the air like a mad person. It was quite scary.).
I choose the sausages and eggs – they are both from some poncey farm shop nearby run by a friend of the Himmlers. She's a former model who married some old rich dude and has set about spending as much of his money as possible on this food "emporium" where a steak costs £20 and you can buy lavender-scented water for your iron. It's a superb place to cruise for chicks as it's packed with yummy mummies trying to fill their empty days – just like in Notting Hill. Anyhow, the food is really good and I enjoy my breakfast despite the terrible thing I've just witnessed.
I look at Mr Himmler in a slightly different way – now I know what this guy has to look at every evening, it's no wonder he's a bit weird. I have an aversion to elderly nudity that goes right back to when I was a kid in Northern California, living in a community of hippies in a redwood forest. They all showed a deep aversion to clothing of any form. As well as soap. It scarred me for life and now I was getting a posh UK version of the experience.
My second "viewing" was even stranger. I was sitting on a bench under the huge willow tree that commands the croquet lawn. It's my favourite place to smoke and get away from them all. So I'm sitting there thinking about stuff when I look up to the windows and there, right up against the glass of the big bedroom, is a very naked Mrs Himmler again. She's just standing there with everything sagging out. She's got one of these thousand-yard stares on and she is completely still – it's really spooky... and disgusting.
I try to edge out of frame so that she doesn't spot me, but my movement seems to snap her out of her reverie and she sees me. She gives me a wave and steps back into the room. I stub my cigarette out and head for the pub. I've had enough of this.
I spend pretty much all day in there regaling the locals with tales of the wedding and the exotic honeymoon. Most of them have never left the county and I might as well be telling them about a trip to Mars. I do, however, definitely sense a slight shift in tone towards me. Whether they like it or not, I'm now married into the squirearchy and they know it. I like my new status – it makes me feel good, as do the thick, syrupy pints of brown bitter. I eventually stagger back to the manor house at about seven in the evening, just in time to be told to get dressed and ready, as there are guests coming for supper.
I put on my Richard James suit and leave Victoria to fiddle with her hair. I start negotiating the long upper corridor towards the dining-room stairs. I'm half way there when I notice the pink bathroom that is normally for guests has a light on. As I approach I can see that the door is open. I don't want to look in... but I have to. Mrs Himmler is lying face down on the floor, unconscious and totally naked. There is a half-empty glass of gin and tonic next to her prone body. I do the English thing – I walk on, go downstairs and join the guests. She never shows all evening and nobody ever mentions her non-appearance. The country scares me. Cooper Out.