30 May 2008

Booze cruise

How dare she? The leaflet, which my neighbour had given me, incensed me - and my husband was pretty cross too, to put it mildly. This woman did not even know us. How on earth had she got the idea that he was an alcoholic and, even worse to contemplate, was she spreading malicious gossip about us, based on an untruth? The next day, I gathered up all my courage and went over the road to confront her about it. I am not normally one to stick my head above the parapet, but this could not be left unchallenged. If it was to do with seeing him on early mornings out on our forecourt doing DIY with a drink in his hand, I explained that Greg often worked night shifts and that other people's breakfast times were his supper time. Therefore to see him with an alcoholic drink in his hand at breakfast time was not as odd as it seemed. It was his nightcap. She still insisted we were in need of the advice she had presented me with. She had seen the signs in her own husband (from whom she was now divorced) and she was trying to spare me the same experience she had gone through. I was very upset that she continued to take that stance and through gritted teeth I said she couldn't be further from the truth - my husband was not an alcoholic. She had got it severely wrong. She apologised, but I never spoke to her again. Shortly after that, she moved away from London altogether. Everyone in our small close thought her a little strange anyway, so good riddance, I thought.

A year or so later, we discovered France. We had hitherto not thought much about the place - it was just somewhere we had to drive across to get from the English Channel to Germany, where we still visited our many friends. But we had meanwhile acquired a dog, Snoopy, and we were too soft to go away on holidays and leave him in kennels. Snoopy used to pine terribly if I left him alone for just an hour to go to the supermarket, for goodness sake - how would he cope for a fortnight without us, if we went away on holiday? So we prepared him for the Pet Passport Scheme and decided to go on a short camping trip to Northern France, taking him with us, just to test out the scheme and hopefully bring him back in one piece with us again. There was a residue niggle that we might have to leave Snoopy in quarantine on the way back, if we had unwittingly overlooked one of the conditions of the scheme. More than we could bear to think about. We found a superb camp-site with a huge swimming pool, which I couldn't tear my daughter away from. The weather was ideal too - much treasured when you are overnighting in a tent! It was quite cosy huddled together with Snoopy as one contented pack. We managed to communicate to the locals with our rather awkward school French and decided that there was more to France than just the transit route from Calais to Lille. On the return journey, we stopped at the famous Cite Europe just outside Calais and found by trial and error a wine we really liked. We had heard about other people's experiences of booze cruises and decided to take 12 cases of this particular wine (6 bottles in a case) back with us to eke out through the following 12 months. Roughly a bottle and a half a week between the two of us. An occasional glass with a meal, or for taking to dinner parties with friends, you understand. You can imagine the sight of us as we drove off the ferry and through the customs' shed at Dover. The car was piled high with the camping gear - tent, cooker, lanterns, kitchen sink etc - suitcases, us, 72 bottles of wine, a few bottles of spirits, AND Snoopy perched on top. You couldn't have found room for a pin. The customs officials waved us through with bored looks on their faces and had no queries at all about the dog. We breathed a sigh of relief. The holiday had been a great success.

That was in late August. In November, I had occasion to go into our celler, where the wine was stored, and noticed that the last bottle of wine had been drunk and I had only had about six glasses in total myself.


laurie said...

i'm sorry about the wine, because i can see what's coming.

but i wish i could take my dogs to france...

(i hate to leave them behind on trips, too.)

Eurodog said...

When reading your previuos post, I reacted quite violently against your neighbour I must say.
I take Belle over to England all the time. I fact we are on her second passport. The original one is full.

aims said...

We often rebel against people trying to point out the obvious to us. Why is that? Because it is easier to view the world through rose coloured glasses and not deal with it.

What a shame that the whole neighbourhood was happy to see her go.

Anonymous said...

Your story is very interesting, Rosiero ... am waiting for the next instalment!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for popping my blog today. I have responded briefly to your comment:

It's not just the comments made by my parents -- it's also bullying suffered at school, several rejections (over many years) from men -- lots of things.

It will all come together on several posts eventually.


rosiero said...

Laurie - do you have anything similar tot he pet passport scheme in the US?

Eurodog - it is great, isn't it that we can now take the dogs with us. We have even put a photo (not obligatory) of Snoopy on his passport which always raises a smile when the customs or ferry staff look at it. So far we have not encountered any problems, though Snoopy hates the vet in France who does the required de-worming and de-ticking just before we return to the UK. I think the hypodermic needles for the de-worming are quite thick and painful.

aims - the neighbour was little strange, in other ways, it has to be said, but in a later post I hope to demonstrate that that woman was, if nothing else, a clairvoyant!!

g-t-a-f - keep up the good work and the blog....I am finding it very interesting and soul-searchingly honest. Sorry, I did mean to include your experiences at school and with men in my reply, but somehow didn't.

Flowerpot said...

We don't go on holiday partly because we can't afford it and partly because of our dog. Neither of us could bear to have to put her in kennels. We did it once and that was it. Interesting story, Rosario and glad to meet you.

DulwichDivorcee said...

Oh Rosiero, I'm very sad for you. Sometimes we have to find out these things ourselves. Maybe you'll meet the former neighbour again some day and be able to approach things from a different perspective.I can just imagine you standing in the empty cellar as the penny dropped from a great height.

Frances said...

aims is so right. We only take the truth from others when we are ready to. Sometimes so much so that we hide it from outsiders. We can all think of families that suddenly break down after everyone thought people were so happy together.
It is a pity, though - I suppose the neighbour had to be odd because she was willing to take that risk. Others may have thought the same but not said. Do you think you would do the same in her place?

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