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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Infrastructure Manager - Southampton - Up to £45K

£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

PHP Software Developer - Hertfordshire

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PHP Software Developer - Hertfordshire An es...

Electrical Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Long term contract role - Electrical Pro...

Product Support Engineer - Mechanical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: You will be working with the support pro...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Spy chief speaks on the record: "Thank you, and that's it, really"

John Rentoul

The daily catch-up: fathers looking after children, World Cup questions and Nostradamus

John Rentoul
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice