William Donaldson's Week: Stone-cold sober at Bobo's bash

Related Topics
MY BEST friend, Little Jo, often amuses me by asking whether by any chance I'll be in London over the weekend. She assumes that, in the general run of things, everyone takes off on Friday afternoon for some daft place like Gloucestershire.

Another comic habit the upper classes have is to ask you to a do two or three days ahead of time. That's obviously absurd. How on Thursday are you meant to know whether you'll be in the mood on Saturday to attend your godson's christening in Wiltshire, a fox ball in Hampshire or a dinner-party for a distant cousin who's blotted his copybook by living for 30 years in Canada? In my circle, you pitch up uninvited on the night or not at all.

Last Wednesday, my sister Bobo asked me to a Sunday function on her lawn in Beaulieu (her land marches with the antique car collector's), adding that she wouldn't have asked me at the last minute, but someone else had just dropped out.

The last minute? How on Wednesday could Alison, my beloved, and I possibly know whether on Sunday we'd want to mix on a lawn with Hampshire nobs? On top of which, how could we be sure that we'd be home in time for the American football on Channel 4?

And another thing. My sister Bobo's as sharp as a knife (once, you may remember, she had my friend Professor Honderich over a barrel, proving that his consequentialist theory of morals could land him in a jam), but she and her friends are as old as I am, if you please. The difference is, I'm young at heart, and I said as much to Bobo.

'I'm young at heart,' I said.

'So you are,' she said. 'Try and come, however. It's our wedding anniversary.'

'Will Gerard, Harry and Claudia be there?'

Gerard, Harry and Claudia are nephews and nieces and so forth, and you'd not meet jollier young people in a long day's march. I could avoid the grown-ups and chat with them.

'Of course,' said Bobo. 'And Tom.'

Tom, my youngest nephew, is in showbusiness like me.

'Tom's a bit 1989, don't you think?' I said.

'He is rather,' Bobo said. 'Nevertheless, do try and come.'

'I must be home in time to see the Oilers against the Chiefs,' I said. 'Like me, you'll be on tenterhooks to discover whether the Oilers' run-and- shoot offense will prevail against the Chiefs' rushing game, spearheaded by Barry Word and, on third down, Christian Okoye, the Nigerian Nightmare.'

'See you on Sunday,' Bobo said. 'It is important.'

I didn't give the matter another thought, and on Saturday, Alison, my beloved, and I got silently stoned with some of our young friends. We were still stoned on Sunday, when Alison, to my surprise, suggested that we go to Bobo's do.

'Good idea,' I said. 'Why?'

'We could nick the grand piano,' Alison, my beloved, said.

That made sense. We drove cautiously in the direction of Hampshire, more or less, and landed up in Basingstoke, at which point we decided to give Bobo's do a miss - the only problem being that, wishing to make our excuses, I discovered I could remember her address but not her telephone number. Never mind. With the cast-iron logic of the very stoned, I ruled that we'd drive on to Bobo's place and tell her in person that we couldn't make it.

We soldiered on for what seemed like six hours, eventually reaching Bobo's estate, where Alison, my beloved, parked in the refreshment tent. We got out of the car, fell over, announced that we couldn't stop and drove back to London with the cold cuts attached to the car's bumper and with an amusing image in our minds of Bobo looking vaguely disappointed.

A shocking story, you'll agree - or it would be were it true. In fact, I've lifted it - give or take a detail or two - from the Sunday Telegraph, which, for all the world as if it were funny, printed a ghastly anecdote this week involving Rex Harrison and his wife at the time, Rachel Roberts.

Many years ago, and as pissed as puddings, Roberts and Harrison - who was not, by British standards, a particularly bad actor, I think, but, from all accounts, a very common man - decided on the way to a reception for George Cukor that they'd give it a miss, but pitched up anyway.

Roberts fell over and Harrison, according to the Sunday Telegraph - which wouldn't know common behaviour from a hole in the road - blew his nose on his wig, which he had in his top pocket instead of a handkerchief.

My point - a laborious one, I must admit - is to contrast the social acceptability of alcohol with other intoxicants, and I have to say that I was as sober as a judge at Bobo's do and, one minor mishap apart, performed with aplomb.

Keen not to mistake my brother-in-law Christopher for one of his gardeners, I struck up a conversation with a gardener, thinking he was Christopher, and asked him to stay for the weekend.

'How do I know what I'll be doing?' the gardener said. 'Are you upper class or what?'

At least I was home in time to see the Oilers stuff the Chiefs.

React Now

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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam