Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Snow Must Go On

I had the Panda's special studded snow tyres swapped back for the normal Mud + Snow Pirellis today. Which should guarantee at least a couple of feet of the white stuff this weekend. Actually, looking at the pic it would appear that a local dog has cocked his mangy leg on the tyre which would explain the whiff I noticed driving back from town.
And I think that despite some tremendous competition this is my most inconsequential post yet, but I am struggling and can only plead serious middle-age fatigue after a weekend in the City and County of Leicester that left few drinks unturned and pub landlords flicking through holiday brochures with surprised smiles on their fat chops.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


After the rather hubristic tone of the last post I fully expect to be crossed off life's list with total liver failure sometime in the next six months. Talking of which, Angelo from the local village cashed his final pension cheque last week. His reason was more prosaic; he got too old. Tall bloke, lived with his sister in a half-completed slum right in the main square and rumour has it he slept in the corridor; well, let's hope so. Never married and all that. He was about 88 and fought with the partisans in the War and ended up in prison in Russia. He lived as a smallholder, selling veg (mainly asparagus) to local restaurants. I once gave him a load of persimmons from the Combo organic orchard and he paid me back with a bottle of his home made grappa. It was nothing whatsoever like the stuff in glass above. There were little black bits suspended in it and it tasted like brake fluid. Cheers Angelo!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Still Here, Remarkably

My my, have I given my liver some stick over the years. I’ve been pissed in Peking and hammered in Hamburg. Smashed in Santa Barbara and trolleyed in Teignmouth. I got plastered in Acapulco with Charlie Nicholas* during a hurricane and completely arseholed with Ozzie Osbourne in the downstairs bar of the Belmont in Leicester. I nearly pulled Fiona Fullerton after an all dayer. I am your archetypal booze bore.

I started drinking seriously when I went to that shining beacon of academic excellence, Leicester Polytechnic, and have never really stopped apart from when I went mad in 1993. I am the Chairman of The 51 Club. I watched open-mouthed as Paycheque Wells and The Doctor created The Mexican Bollockshaker. We used to kidnap garden gnomes and hold them for ransom. I laughed until tears ran down my face when Shag Unsworth was refused his eighth Long Island Iced Tea at the South Street Seaport and Shag Ashley and I weren’t. I drank without a break for eight years in Bristol, ping-ponging between pints of Courage Best virtually anywhere and cloudy pints of Inch’s cider† at the Coronation Tap in Clifton. Eight months after I left Bristol in 1991 Courage shut the brewery. And then there was London. Oh dear Christ, London. I don’t even know where to begin.

Of course, my years of heavy drinking are NOT my fault. It’s my father’s, Gerald Combo. If he were still alive I’d sue his arse off for seriously infringing my human rights by taking me to The Keyberry Hotel in Decoy (a scruffy suburb of Newton Abbot, itself Devon’s ugliest town) when I was a young lad and leaving me outside on a wooden bench with a glass of Cydrax and the inevitable bag of Smith’s Crisps with the blue twist of salt. But the gorgeous smell that wafted out of that pub scarred me forever. It was a Bass house and the aroma of ale, all mixed up with cigarette and pipe smoke and blokes laughing turned my head.

There is not enough space on the flight decks of the few remaining aircraft carriers¶ in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy to carry all the glasses of booze I have poured down my ever-ready throat because of my father’s∆ malign influence.

And the doctor looked at my tests yesterday and said my liver was back to being in virtually perfect nick.
As Toby ‘Intrepid’ Savage said at the end of October: “It’s all bollocks”.
And do you know what? He’s right.

*A professional footballer from the 1980s.
† Don’t ask.
¶ But probably not the new Ark Royal as it’s got one of those flight decks that curves upwards towards the end so lots of the glasses would actually fall over.
∆ Only joking Dad! I’m very grateful actually.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Lucky Bastard

All clear! My liver: "non c'e niente da preoccuparti". That's what the doctor said this morning - absolutely nothing to worry about! He said I had clearly been a very good boy. I nearly snogged him, tongue an' all.
And yes, this is Ron Combo, outside the doctor's, happy as Larry and off to the bar for a celebratory half bottle of grappa.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Monday, Monday

I went down to the health centre this morning to collect the results. I queued for about half an hour behind a goodly number of extremely badly dressed and garrulous East Europeans, who may well have been from Macedonia. Anyway things started looking good because I by the time my turn came I still had my wallet and mobile 'phone. So I presented my bit of paper to the clerk sitting behind the bullet proof screen. He waddled off in his public sector way to the blood test results box, leafed through for about ten minutes and came back with a lot of tooth sucking and "No chance, Monday see, he does a different round Monday should be here tomorrow but you never know all this snow never seen nothing like it better make it Wednesday eh just to be on the safe side. Next."
Well, this is Italy after all.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Addio, You Lot

Death is a big deal in Italy. They like a good death. Given that the average life expectancy around here seems to be about 95 for the men and 116 for the women I suppose that when the buggers do eventually push off it merits attention. This is the page from this week's local newspaper (circulation 390) with this week's dear departed all featured, along with those who left our midst three months ago or last year or fifty years ago, you get the drift. All those patient Italian faces looking out at their friends or enemies who may well be crying or gloating. I have tried to find out where these posed pictures come from, I mean does a dutiful son say to his mother "Well Mamma, you were 107 last week, do you think it might perhaps be an idea to have a snap in case you pop off in the next ten years?"
Talking of popping off, I had the blood test this morning. Results on Monday.
And no, I haven't had a drink this evening. Although tomorrow I'll probably need one when I watch England getting tonked by Italy at Twickers.