Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ilminster - the new Glastonbury

It's ten past twelve when the text comes in
Erika doesn't even ask, she can tell by my grin
We both need the football season to go live
At least that will keep us out of the pub until five

We arrive at our second home, The Royal Oak
I order a pint of Sam Nigel, I think Chris might choke
He can't believe I've turned my back on Thatcher's Gold
But its Doctor's orders, and I always do as I am told

Most people have gone to Glasto, so we need a plan
Leighton hands me the card of the Flying Scots-man
Ten quid each, return trip to the county town
We drink up and wait for Fran to come down

We decide to drink cocktails, but promise to take it slow
Jugs of raspberry sherbet, berrylicious and mojito
The last one was a lie, I just used it to rhyme
'Cus who honestly likes mint leaves and all that lime

When at the bar there are two words that make me smile
'Happy Hour.' So we stayed there for quite a while
As the time came to go there was only one place to be
Munching on a bargain bucket at the local K F C

Back in town, and no pyramid stage,  but it is still cool
So we partner up and I start the evening as normal losing pool
D-Lo and Erk hit the juke box and rock out some quality tunes
Vodka-Red Bull induced we start jumping around like loons

With our mini festival underway I try to add my own twist
But I can't remember any songs, by now I am way too pissed
I manage JT, MC Hammer, Tinne Tempah and Britney Spears
And just like that twat Mr Claypole - everyone disappears

Propping up the bar I manage to sell Mooner's dad a book
Then my drinking buddy vanishes so I go outside to take a look
He is staggering in the distance so I call him on my phone
He makes it back for one last drink before eventually going home

Home at last with my sexy girl, perhaps I should install a pole
But getting frisky has to wait until I have taken my omeprazole
Clothes are strewn across the floor and we head upstairs in a hurry
Switch on the TV, check facebook one last time, our own personal Glastonbury

Are you mental?

Perhaps not the most politically correct question, but one that I have asked my friends (in jest) and also asked myself (seriously). How do we really know we are sane? Can sanity be measured? With the amount of debilitating illnesses about how would you spot the early signs of mental decrepitude?
I have often joked with my parents that if they lose their marbles, they’ll be in a home faster than they can shout ‘poisonous monkeys’. I would expect nothing less from my own kids.

When talking with my dad about this he gently comforted me by saying, “Well you know that mental illness runs in our family.” Well I didn’t, and then I wondered why he had only just decided to tell me. When I confronted him he simply answered, “Well you didn’t think you granddad was sane, did you?”
I hadn’t even thought about it, and now that I did, I was concerned.

My granddad would turn up at our house for Sunday lunch in his bright blue Robin Reliant complete with matching beaded seat covers, and park head on to the curb. Should this have been a first indicator? At 14 I thought it was cool, especially how you could drive and get a massage at the same time.

He always wore a suit, the tweed type that most gentlefolk of his age sported. He looked smart from a distance, but closer inspection revealed many cigarette burns in the lapels and that his tie was held in place by no less than six tie clips and two tie pins. Another sign maybe? Or could he have been following an early Health & Safety directive on the dangers of flapping ties.

My brother and I would always position ourselves opposite him when it came to dinner, as we enjoyed watching his most unusual habit. He would pick up the salt cellar and proceed to pour a mountain of salt onto the back of his hand. He would then use his other hand to take a tiny pinch of salt and sprinkle this over his dinner. He would then proceed to eat his dinner as normal seeming to forget the mountain of salt still perched on his hand. It would spill mostly on the table, his food and into his lap. He remained completely oblivious. My brother and I thought he did it to make us laugh, which we surely would have if not for my mum’s burning glare.

A few weeks later my dad had to pick up my granddad as his driving licence had been taken away after he had crashed into a BMW and written it off! Plastic cars are amazing. Still this was to be expected as he was getting old, what was a surprise, was that my dad had to pick him up from the police station. My granddad, not phased by the loss of his licence turned to the next available transport – an invalid carriage. The police had picked him up heading southbound on the hard shoulder of the M5. When they asked him what he was doing he replied, “Going shopping in Exeter officer.” Obvious really. Although Exeter is some thirty-five miles from his house.

He was also known for his amazing gift giving talent. A present from my granddad was always something to behold. My twenty-first birthday was no different. He proudly presented me (unwrapped) Bruno the Bear Fabuland Lego (for ages 2-4), and for some strange reason he also gave my mum a can of Silverkrin hairspray, also unwrapped. Perhaps he thought I was retarded, or perhaps he was simply taking the piss?

Whatever it was I never doubted his sanity and proof of this came one more eventful dinnertime after he had covered my dad in salt. He regaled us with a story of a distant uncle, who, said my granddad “Was really mental”. He told us of how my uncle would sit at the table and arrange all of the condiments and other items on the table in a specific order and then tap out a tune on them with his dessert spoon. A possible musical genius?

It then dawned on me that my granddad didn’t realise that his own mental capacity was fading. If he couldn’t tell, how would I? And perhaps in that is the answer, we all fear what might happen, but even if it does, will we actually know anything about it. Armed with the old adage ‘ignorance is bliss’ I am off to stock up on some salt and pepper.