My Mum was devoutly against alcohol consumption, she was the suffragette of protesters against the evils of alcohol. In her defence, her father had died as a direct result of alcoholism, and in her infinite wisdom she had unwittingly married an alcoholic in the making. Every bad memory that infested her poor, traumatised and infinitely sober brain was centred around alcohol, or the effects of the demon drink.
My old dad, God rest his shaky alcoholic memory, was more often than not, pissed. On the days that he didn’t go to the pub he would treat himself to a bottle of QC Sherry at the expense of a good hearty meal and console himself with the fact that he really, really missed the pub!
So, one Christmas, when she decided to release her inner demon, she accepted a rare invitation to go to the house of my best childhood friend, and partake of a festive tipple with his parents. My sister, who was 17 at the time, accompanied mum to give her some much needed Dutch courage. My best friend Mark stayed behind with me at my house so we could play an uninterrupted game of Subbuteo (A football game played with miniature football figures that a player flicked with his fingers to move a tiny football around a green cloth football pitch) Great game, but I digress!
After about 30 minutes we became bored so he went home, leaving me to pack my game away. I think my memory is right when I recall that my mum had left a large piece of gammon ham roasting in the oven when she had left the house with my sister to walk down to my friends house. It smelt like it was cooked and when I opened the oven door it was indeed golden brown and cooked. Baring in mind that my mum had been out of the house for over 2 hours I decided to take the ham out of the oven and as i was doing so, the back door slammed open and my mum half fell through the door, her trailing hand holding onto my sisters hand, both of them giggling loudly as mum fell onto the floor.
By this time, dad had retired up to his bedroom to finish his sherry in solitude so he wasn’t there to witness the very funny state of my mum, he would have shouted at her anyway. As mum managed to stand up, with lots of giggly help from my sister, she (Mum) looked at me holding the meat tray with the ham in it and asked what I was doing? After explaining the ham had just finished cooking she took it upon herself to search for a carving knife so she could slice a piece off because “It smells bloody lovely”.
I stayed very close to her, suggesting quite a few times that I should cut her a piece, but she was adamant she could do it because she was sober! So I watched intently as she took the knife to the meat as her head hovered directly over the joint. The vomit inducing sight of a slow moving string of dribble escaping from her mouth, landing stealthily on top of the ham was heartbreaking because I wanted some to. Mum did indeed manage to cut a large chunk ham for herself without losing any fingers and proceeded to stagger into the living room with the ham hanging out of her mouth like a long, fat cigar.
Eventually, I was forced to carry my limp mum up the stairs and put her to bed whilst my sister lay flat out on the settee, oblivious to my struggles. Because the delicious looking ham had been unfortunately glazed with my mum’s alcohol infused dribble, I had no choice but to throw the remains of the ham away. I loved my mum but had no desire to eat her saliva or allow anyone else to eat it. In the morning when mum got up, she didn’t remember a thing after leaving my friends house. I explained what had happened to the ham, which really pissed her off, but also made her laugh in a shameful way. God bless her, I hope she’s having as good a time now as she did that Christmas afternoon.