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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Ah, birthday drinks in the middle of the week. There is nothing more civilised with the potential to spiral completely out of control. The threat of imminent danger hanging over each of our heads last night was actually palpable. One of the valued guests even ordered and ate mushrooms before succumbing to the fear and scarpered without paying. I admire her budgeting spirit. I myself stole and drank a birthday drink belonging to Little Sister Edel due to budget restrictions last night, but I was saving her from herself, and throwing myself in front of the danger with reckless abandon. I only hope that one day she'll understand what I went through.

Little Sister Edel had adopted a new form of greeting yesterday. Instead of a wave or a hello or a hug or a smile, she stood on two straight legs and thrust two straight arms at people, palms up, ready to accept whatever gift they came to bestow. This never got old. Neither did her habit of sitting in quiet moments and singing to herself "happy birthday to me... happy birthday to me..." over and over again. Little Sister Louise had entirely more dignity. At least she did up until around 11pm. After that things get a little more wobbly and blurred.

At one time, I went outside the pub to join my brother and sisters and honorary family member Moo while they were smoking their fags. (I don't smoke, I didn't smoke, don't panic) We were stood as one around lovely Hutch who had just arrived and having a group bonding session as only family members can, in that we were repeatedly telling each other that they were ugly. A man came long who congratulated Moo on her hair - rightly so, because Moo has tremendously great hair - and I realised with a frightening lurch of the stomach that this man was one of those men who comes to pubs on his own and talks to people he doesn't know for. Hours. On. End.

Little Sister Edel obviously already knew this. The moment the man began speaking, she got a look of theatrical horror on her face, as if she'd left the oven on and all the children were sat inside it. She went "Oh!" out loud - seriously, she actually did this - and then dashed back in to the pub. Myself and Moo exchanged glances. That exit would be hard to beat.

Brother Derek saved on the theatricals, and went for one better. He just said "I'd better go and see what's wrong" with stilted delivery that would put a Tuesday night am dram production to shame, and wandered off. Now we were three, versus a pub bore.

Moo looked at me. I looked at Moo. Hutch was engaged in conversation with Pub Bore. Moo looked at the ground beside Hutch. Moo grinned up at me, grabbed gift that Hutch had brought with her, and declared loudly and triumphantly "I'd better bring this in to Edel!" I tried to wrestle Moo to the ground, but she had made her escape. Damn Moo. Damn Moo to hell and back.

Now we were two.

Hutch seemed innocent to our terrible dilemma, but then I realised I had hit on a jackpot. I said to Hutch, cutting right across the conversation she was having with Pub Bore - "Do you still smoke?" "No," Hutch replied, "I gave up about six months ago!" "Well then," I responded, "I gave up three weeks ago."

This is when the going got good, as I uttered the completely ridiculous last line: "We'd better go back inside then, in case we accidentally start smoking again."

And with that, we did.


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