I don't drink in the week, unless I happen to meet a certain friend of mine, whose anonymity I shall preserve. (Let's call her Caroline.)
We both love Red Wine. Lots of it. Our mutual appreciation for a nice, full bodied Rioja invariably results in a nasty hangover, and necessitates the consumption of an entire packet of Alka Seltzer the following day.
We start the night with good intentions. We invite Caroline and her boyfriend (let's call him Tom), for a Monday night Supper; an early supper, you understand. We don't drink on school nights!
Caroline phones from Tescos at Lunchtime to enquire whether she can bring anything for the meal.
I might ask her to pick up a garlic baguette or a bag of salad.
"Anything else? " she will say.
There is a loaded silence whilst we ponder the question, and i have a mental image of her standing in the booze aisle gazing lasciviously at the plethora of half price Wolf Blass.
"Um, I don't think so. There's a bottle of red in the cupboard if you and I fancy a glass."
"Hmm, I might have a glass. Can't be late tonight though. We're both up early tomorrow."
I listen to a succession of noisy clinks from her end of the telephone. It sounds just like wine bottles being placed into a handbasket.
"Which aisle are you in now?" I ask slyly.
There is a pause.
"Fruit and veg." she says breezily.
"Ah, I see."
Clink, clunk, clink clink. A small but unmistakeable grunt of exertion escapes her as she lifts her basket and i listen to her puffing her way to the checkout.
We continue the charade, and I revel in the tacit mutual pretence of being grown up and responsible.
"I've got some fabulous home made Elderflower. We can make elderflower spritzers with fizzy water." I tell her enthusiastically.
"Yummy!" she replys obediently.
"See you later!" she trills. The last thing I hear before she hangs up is the thud thud thud of bottles being loaded onto the conveyor belt.
They arrive a couple of hours later.
I take the proffered bottle of Wolf Blass, and affect an expression of surprised pleasure.
"Oooh! Red wine! Do you fancy a glass....or would you prefer something soft?" I ask, gesturing to the strategically placed bottle of elderflower.
She frowns and bites her lip, as though in an agony of indecision. Wine or Elderflower? Golly, what a predicament!
"Go on then, you've twisted my arm." she says making a lunge for the wine bottle.
"Just a small glass though." she says firmly.
I return with with two Sophie Conran half pint buckets.
"We haven't got anything smaller i'm afraid." I fib.
As she uncorks the bottle, my olfactory senses are titivated by the velvety bouquet of ripe cranberries and redcurrants. My mouth starts to water.
She fills up the glasses, holds the empty bottle aloft and pretends to look shocked.
"Those glasses are enormous! " she exclaims shaking her head.
"I know - why would anyone make wine glasses that big?" i tut.
We raise our glasses.
We have perfected the art of consuming considerable quantities of wine whilst maintaining an outwardly respectable appearance of gentility; by sucking in quietly at the same time as you tilt your glass, you can ingest a surprising amount, whilst appearing as demure as a deb at her coming out ball.
When we have finished our half pint pail, I say something like "Well, we said we'd have a glass, and we've had it."
At this point Caroline frowns thoughtfully into middle distance like Miss Marple recalling a vitally important clue.
"I'm not sure, but there might be another bottle in the boot of my car." she murmurs, contriving to look doubtful.
We look at each other, pretending to weigh up the options.
"We could have one more glass. That would only be two glasses each." i say helpfully.
"Can we stay the night?" she asks.
"Of course." I reply.
"Okay. I'll go and get it from the car - if there is any in the car, that is." she continues, looking beadily at me. "There might not be any there at all. I might have imagined seeing it."
She returns five minutes later looking surprised.
"I found two bottles under the spare wheel!" she exclaims plonking them on the kitchen table and scratching her head.
"No way!" i gasp. We gawp at the bottles in amazement. Anyone would think she had just discovered a baby penguin in the glove compartment.
Five hours later, we are trying to make up the spare bed. Well, Caroline is trying to make up the spare bed. I am slumped in a chair, with one eye closed, watching her. She is shimmying around the spare room in vertiginous purple stilettos (courtesy of the fancy dress bag) tripping over the chiffon hem of my red sequin encrusted ball gown which I wore over ten years ago when i was a lissome 22 year old. A ritzy pink feather fascinator sits atop her head, and her arms are encased in white satin gloves.
I am dressed in a fluffy leopard print toga and a pink cow boy hat with a fur trim.
"PPffft! - Not working. S'not gunna fit." she titters, trying to shove the voluminous goose down duvet into the duvet cover.
" Help me please." she says.
"Gnnn." i reply, tottering over.
"That's not a duvet cover, it's a pillow case." i giggle.
"Is it?! Haha!"
In the morning, I am greeted by a note on the kitchen table.
"Dear Mrs Miller, thankyou for a splendid evening. I'm afraid I took the last two Alka Seltzer. You are a very bad influence.
Love C. X"