Saturday, 31 May 2008

Down to the Badlands

Down to Bruno's the other evening to help celebrate his son's 26th birthday (hence the bottle above, one of several). Half way through a delicious dinner Bruno suddenly took me to one side and told me "Sunday we're flying down to Vibo Valentia in Calabria for a wedding where you, me and Giulio are singing Ave Maria by Arcadelt." "But Bruno," I ventured, "Vibo Valentia....Calabria.... it's serious Mafia country. It's the 'Ndrangheta. They make the Taliban look like Budleigh Salterton W.I." "We'll be untouchable; I've testified at two of the bride's father's trials. They're very welcoming. Trust me. Tomorrow you have to pay for your ticket, it's 300 euros." "300 euros?" I squeaked, "you can fly to New York and back for that! Mrs Combo will kill me! We're brassic!" "Stop complaining" he replied severely, "some things are more important than money. I'll pick you up at eight on Sunday morning. We'll practice the piece on the plane".

What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, 24 May 2008

A Ray of Sunshine

My mother, quite wisely, drilled it into me from an early age that Life is a Vale of Tears. Life is all about loss; the loss of innocence, lost dreams, lost opportunities and lost loved ones. Our time here is played out against a gloomy, shabby backdrop of disappointment, adversity, misfortune, humiliation, misadventure and regret, occasionally punctuated by an uplifting moment, a glimpse of the sunlit uplands, a fleeting moment when your heart lifts and, albeit briefly, there is a certain purpose to all this nonsense.
I had one of those life-enhancing moments this week after a visit to London. Wednesday involved a meandering, compass-free pub crawl from Clerkenwell to Hammersmith that lasted some twelve hours and involved the consumption of an amount of alcohol that would have had Harriet Harman tutting loudly, shaking her head, and trotting out all sorts of NuLabour bollocks. I was lucky enough to be accompanied for the duration of the trip by Fred Fibonacci who provided me with my glimpse of higher things. He told me on the telephone that on the next day he had his worst hangover in 30 years.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Keeping the Faith

Life has been, er, hectic here. Various disciples of The Church of Ron came to worship at the altar of excess, bringing with them gifts from afar. Pictured here are two examples from some Norwegian pilgrims. On the right is Hammer London Gin, distilled in Oslo. Very clean, gorgeous bottle, it certainly does the business. On the left is an extremely interesting aquavit, again distilled in Oslo and then allowed to mature in Oloroso sherry barrels. For this spirit to be authentic the barrels have to be loaded on a ship and sent to Australia and not unloaded, but returned to Norway, the principle being that it has to cross the equator twice. All the rolling around makes it absorb the flavours of the barrel, allegedly. Right. That's enough of that. The weekend was tough as the pilgrims spent their waking moments at my feet, gazing up in awe, as I dispensed bottle after bottle of Freisa, Refosco, Gavi, Barbera, Raboso, Prosecco, Cortese, Dolcetto, grappa, Lidl lager, gin and Ron's 100% Organic Limoncello. Quite frankly, I feel like shit. I'm going to have to cut down on the preaching.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Fred Flies In

It was always going to be tough. Fibonacci arriving at Genoa, business class on BA with his latest squeeze in tow. 6' tall, high heels and Welsh to boot (the squeeze, not Fred). A late lunch on the Thursday set the tone for the weekend; five bottles of wine between the three of us (Mrs Combo having scented serious incoming and fled), down to the bar for a bottle of Prosecco and then off to a local trat for, well, frankly I just remember more Prosecco and then a lot more red. Back to Combo Towers for grappa afterwards. Ditto for Friday with a bit of an embarassing slowdown on Saturday due to drink exhaustion, but some fine wines in the evening courtesy of Car Dealer Bruno. On Sunday Fred took his Amazonian bimbo back to Genoa where they enjoyed as much BA hospitality as is humanly possible on a 1 hour 50 minute flight to London. These are the gifts they brought/half-inched from Duty Free: the mythical Hendrick's gin (untouched, waiting for a cucumber) and a serious malt with serious packaging, the Isle of Jura (touched, Friday night).
Someone, anyone, stop me before I drink again. But not just yet.