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

Share
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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game