If your cork pops, go out for a spin

Related Topics
Pots, kettles, pride before a fall and so forth. I hadn't supposed, when, two weeks ago, I good-naturedly chaffed my old friend Terence Blacker on the score of his cork being too tightly in the bottle, that my own cork would shortly pop with a sound that would startle them all along the south coast, not least in Bournemouth.

That's the trouble with a background like mine (Sunningdale, Winchester and Magdalene, the duffers' college) and, to a lesser degree, of course, like Blacker's: we've been trained to bottle up the insults, so when the cork is released the damage can be shattering.

Lord Howe went to Winchester, and look what happened when his cork went. Baroness Finchley was blown clean out of her seat. When a Wykehamist pops his cork others would be well advised to keep their heads down.

Take my case. It won't be easy to write about it, slung up as I am in the traction of my background, still less so since it involves a woman, Here goes, however. Two years ago almost to the day, and without any warning, the love of my life departed for the West Country to start again with a man in trade. I didn't mention it here, although others advised me to. For 24 hours I squinted with grief, walked into the furniture, once, in my distracted state, did the shopping at a Europa store dressed in my pyjamas.

Then I remembered the code - acquired in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker- room - by which I have led my life: if you can get your tight end to pancake two defensive linesmen you're in for a touchdown. Accordingly, I squared the shoulders, put on my Sunday suit and hopped along to the Hyde Park Hotel to have lunch with my friend Craig Brown.

Brown, who's very perceptive, twigged immediately that things were by no means tickety-boo.

"What's up, old chap?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said. "Nothing at all. What's your news? "Funny weather for the time of year. Neither one thing nor the other."

Brown insisted that I spit it out - which (falteringly since one doesn't wish to embarrass another chap with personal disclosures) I eventually did.

"Met this girl, do you see? Got a bit involved. Damn silly. Now she's sugared off. Left me in a bit of a loop. I'll be OK."

Brown, to my surprise, then spoke of safety-valves and so forth, suggesting that I use this column as a conduit for my grief.

"You're carrying a lot of rage and pain," he said. "You should let it all out. Spray it all over your column. Week after week. It will be the best possible therapy."

Therapy? What the hell was that? In Sunningdale we did not know the meaning of the word. In Sunningdale if we suffered a set-back we didn't go into therapy; we cracked on, inflated the chest, walked with the toes turned out.

Nor do you go into therapy if, like me, you've been to Winchester; and if like me, in War Cloisters and on a misty November afternoon, you have been addressed by a desert general - the Auk, as a rule - on the subject of general attitude.

At Winchester, if your attitude was wrong, you could be punched in the stomach from a measured distance. It was called a "bross blow". A senior, judging that your attitude was wrong, could knock you senseless with a "bross blow". My housemaster, entering hall for evening prayers, was obliged to pick his way between the bodies of small, unconscious boys knocked senseless by a "bross blow".

In a nutshell, you don't, if you've been addressed by the Auk at an impressionable age, and punched thereafter by a senior, go into therapy, hold hands with other losers in a group, avail yourself of a caring hot-line service nor ring up Anna Raeburn. Still less do you use your column as a conduit for your grief. You bottle it all up and, if the cork comes out, you do something very silly indeed.

On Tuesday my cork popped with a violence that had me ricocheting round my front room for 20 minutes. I was talking to Michelle about her pal, the gourmet blue cook in Bournemouth and about the latter's dips party later in the week, when it suddenly hit me (I needn't tell you why) that the gourmet blue cook and the love of my life were one and the same.

I might have done something really foolish; I might, for instance (having it in mind to play a joke on my beloved by running amok among the dips), have driven to Bournemouth with Isabelle, who's eight months pregnant, with Frankie Fraser and the lovely Marilyn, with Honest John and Mrs Lamb.

Which, on Thursday, is what I did. The six of us drove down to Bournemouth and parked the car outside my beloved's flat. First out of the traps was Isabelle, who ran through my beloved's front door shouting the odds.

"Where is he?" she screamed. "I know he's here! I know you've been seeing him, you little trollop!"

While accusation and counter accusation flew backwards and forwards between my beloved and her tradesman, Frankie Fraser ran through the door shouting "Where is she? I know she's here! Be sensible!" - not an injunction Bournemouth's "B list" had received hitherto from Frankie Fraser.

You'll have got the picture. Frank was followed by the lovely Marilyn ("Where's my Frank? I know he's here!"), Marilyn by Honest John and Honest John by Mrs Lamb. Sitting outside, and imagining the disarray among the dips, I could hardly contain my mirth.

Then I ran in and asked politely if anyone had been asking for me. It wasn't my beloved in the least but another gourmet blue cook entirely.

No harm done. The outing did me good and the dips were excellent.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Jack Warner  

Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Tom Peck
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?