Zimovane and videotape

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The Independent Online
IT'S A year since Classy Cressida sat on my coffee table and went clean through it - her mishap coinciding with the arrival at my place of old Lady Huggins of the Rent Assessment Panel.

'Hullo, Mummy,' said Classy Cressida, before passing out among the debris.

'Thank goodness she's mixing with nice young people at last,' said old Lady Huggins. 'Try to scrape her off the floor in time for the Linley wedding tomorrow

afternoon.'

There seemed little danger of a repeat performance this year since Classy Cressida isn't speaking to me at the moment. At least, I think she isn't speaking to me. Due to the double doses I'm taking of Zimovane, my sleeping pills, I have no knowledge of who might be speaking to me and of who might not be after 9pm.

On Monday, my friend Simon Holiday pointed out some dangerous possibilities. Two years ago, he said, he and Pippa, his beloved, flew to Bangkok and, since they were suffering from jet-lag, went shopping on arrival for a sleeping pill.

Pharmacies in Bangkok, it seems, are like English driving ranges, in so far at least as they have buckets at the entrance in three sizes (tailored, as it were, to the number of pills you want). You choose a bucket and approach the counter, where the assistants are rushing backwards and forwards like McDonald's waiters.

Holiday asked for Rohypnol, whereupon the assistant filled his bucket up. Holiday and Pippa, his beloved, then struggled back to their hotel, where they made the mistake of having four Rohypnols each, washed down by double Bloody Marys.

Two Rohypnols, apparently, would knock a police horse bandy, and the next thing Holiday and Pippa were conscious of was waking up in the wrong hotel room, handcuffed to the bed-post and with their heads shaved clean as billiard balls.

'That must have been fun,' they thought, and wishing to have some visual record of the next night's escapade, they, hopped out and bought a Polaroid camera.

That evening they increased the Rohypnol dosage and woke up the next morning, unhandcuffed this time but surrounded by photographic evidence suggesting that they had at some point in the evening persuaded half the performers in Bangkok's red-light district to party with them in their suite - transvestites, sailors, tattooists, cabaret acrobats and tiny oriental masseuses who, by a life-time of yogic disciplines, were able, it seemed, to introduce three-quarters of their bodyweight into their own genital areas.

'It was quite a surprise,' said Holiday. 'Since you have no recollection of what happens to you, I suggest you take similar precautions. Get yourself a Polaroid.'

I did better. I bought a video camera, and thereafter and for the rest of the week, set it up at 9pm - when I take a Zimovane or two - in order that I should have a record the next day of the previous night's activities.

On Tuesday morning, and in a state of some excitement ('This will be good]'), I switched the video-recorder on and spent the next three hours watching myself watching television - lumbering English situation comedies, two cooks exchanging arch domestic banter while stuffing themselves in Europe, a collection of wallies at the Chelsea Flower Show, at one point, even, an Association football match, I think.

And thus it was for the next four days - thereby releasing me, you might suppose, from any fears that, arriving this year to inspect my premises, old Lady Huggins would walk in and encounter a scene of Babylonian

extravagance.

Not so. A stern Popperian, I'd never assume that a regularity will be maintained (the sun might not rise, pigs might fly, Carlton might produce some decent programmes) when on the evening before old Lady Huggins's inspection, my neighbour Trevor the Teacher - a committee man of a certain age - gave me the key to his flat and asked me to water his plants while he visited the country, I laid my plans accordingly.

The next morning, and without having viewed last night's tape, I switched the number plate on Trevor the Teacher's door with mine, and was able to take up position in his excellently maintained apartment seconds before old Lady Huggins's arrival.

'This is very nice,' she said. 'You seem to have effected several improvements since my last inspection. I particularly like the new bathroom and the extension to the balcony.'

At which point, I became so over-confident that when old Lady Huggins said that she'd like, while she was here, to have a look at Trevor the Teacher's flat, I obligingly let her into mine.

'Jumping Jesus] What's this?' she said.

'Hullo, Mummy,' said Classy Cressida, and then she sat on the coffee-table and went clean through it, before passing out among the debris - Yardies, surgical stirrups, Bunsen burners and Abby From The Eighties, dressed in something acquired, I imagine, through the post.

Never mind. Trevor the Teacher won't be sitting on any more committees - indeed, he's been evicted. On the other hand my rent's been doubled, thanks to Trevor the Teacher's balcony extension.

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