Saturday, 25 June 2011

But I do turn into an Edwardian candelabra at midnight

Dig is all up for attending this year's ball at Oxford.

I include these photos for the benefit of passing American readers.

Why we are going, do not ask. It is inexplicable to me.

But tonight we dump the kids with Aunty Dee who trailed us yesterday on our halting journey down England's main drain otherwise called the M1.

Yesterday, the amiable aunty took Shark out of our equation. Today she is sleeping with the mice, mould and spiders in the cellar (how well we treat the relatives!) but with the sole purpose to give us parent people some time out.

Maybe she has caught wind of something final, like Dig is whisking me away to say, now he has had time to think about it, divorce is a good idea, but just one thing: would I stay on to do the laundry? That would be helpful.

That matter aside, and on the Oxford issue instead, be less than impressed.

A college administrative assistant (who probably should know better) put me on the graduate invite list, possibly by accident. At Oxford I merely did a Jeffrey Archer; I slipped round the back door of the august institution to crawl out a year later with the ignominy of a vocational qualification (aka PGCE) and I have been on the invite list ever since. Unlike him, I play the connection down, and I never go, if only to spare the blushes of Fellows.

But tonight Dig, who has far more claim to these events than me, has something in his bonnet and wishes to go.

Easy-going Grit (yes! I am! it is true!) thus complies. But what do you expect that I go along and pick a fight with a bouncer, true gutter girl that I am?

The problem I have is that someone is apparently keeping their eye on me, because I have, in a crowd composed mostly of foreign graduates and a few gently moulding academics, craftily managed to get my ungainly mitts round a glass bottle. (Wine, not beer, if anyone is alarmed.)

A glass bottle in my hands is not allowed. (Do not mention the bottles all the waiters have been swinging round.) I may be aged over fifty, have had three kids wrenched from my bowels, suffered enough indignities and disgraces to make you put your fingers over your eyes, and be old enough to be the bouncer's mum, but from all this life experience it must be assumed I have neither learned nor grown, not one jot.

I must not be trusted, perhaps for fear that with my age, experience and disposition I go berserk, glass the aging historian propped next to me and I swing the fragmented bottle round my head while dancing naked in the quad.

So the glass bottle is removed and I am given the dregs in a plastic cup. A PLASTIC CUP. Yes, dear Americans, I may be standing at an Oxford ball and be dressed in designer Marella, but I can only drink from plastic.

Well of course this sets me off. I hunt down King Bouncer and discover that to have this legitimate authority to remove glass from old ladies I have to pay two hundred and fifty pounds every three years to the Security Industry Authority run by the Home Office. Once I am in charge of putting a team together to bounce the venue I can more or less choose who I would like - maybe a few pals - and they can eye-spy glass bottles clutched in the claws of dodgy old birds like me and act appropriately in the interests of health and safety of you all.

Suffice to say it did not all end too well, but at least from the evening I managed to gain a gentleman to accompany me back at 3am to the hotel, so I can reassure any concerned reader that I never glassed the historian, never danced naked in the quad, am not returning to prison, have no black eye, nor am yet irrevocably divorced.