Thursday, 22 March 2012

Alcoholics Ubiquitous

A picture of bayonet training.A picture of bayonet training. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)It was a night of the full moon.

The dogs had kept me awake barking at the coyotes who prowled and howled along the river bed below, but, finally, peace reigned.

And then they started barking again.
I got out of bed to upbraid them and saw through the front room window a man standing under the street light outside the house. (Yes, these are the wilds of Costa Rica, down on the gravel tracks, but we do have a street light. Rural France take note.)
I shot back to the bedroom, put on a dressing gown and pulled down the bayonet from its home on top of the wardrobe.
Door open, lights on. dogs charging out out baying and mad woman advancing with bayonet at the high'd think anyone would leg it...but not my caller.
By the smell of him he had been sampling the contents of a distillery which, together with the dogs ceasing to bay and jumping up at him instead revealed his identity.

Don Antonio, coffee picker extraordinaire, snapper up of trifles whether considered or not by their owner and dedicated drinker of strong spirits.
Not only did he clearly have no notion that it was three o'clock in the morning, he couldn't have told me if it was Pancake Tuesday or Palm Sunday.

We sat down on the bench in the porch and he told me that he thought he would drop in on his way back from visiting his sister at San Antonio.

What do you mean, on the way back? We're miles down the road...

I didn't waste time on the road...I came across country.

This involved a precipitous descent from mountain to river, through brush infested with poisonous snakes and a steep ascent on the other side, with much barbed wire to negotiate. Having drink taken.
You wouldn't wish it on a jogger.

What about the coyotes?

I threw matches at them...

He probably did.

Don Antonio conserves his energy, so if he had paid a call it was with some purpose in mind, but, courteous to a fault he would not bring out the reason for his visit without first going through the formalities of asking after one's health, one's family's health - probably the dogs' health given half a chance - so it was a good job it was a warm night.

After we had dealt with  details of Mr. Fly's latest round of tests and I had enquired as to the progress of his brother's ulcer, he became confidential.

You don't have to worry about that  so and so up the road. The Neighbour. I put him right when I met him at Alcoholics Anonymous at the church last week.

For some reason -  a disturbed night, perhaps, or the full moon - this conjured up a picture of the church packed to the gills with crowds of men in crisp white hats with curly brims drowning the smell of incense with gales of the hard stuff. Perhaps that's how it was.

Don Antonio continued.

I told him that if he started anything with you again (I suppose remembering the time he tried to hit me with a riding crop through the window of the car) he'd have me to deal with.
I'm not frightened of him. I've had him off his horse more than once when he was riding past my place. Gave him a good kicking.

What had he done?

Nothing more than usual...he needs to be taken down a peg, that's all.

Didn't he say anything?

Couldn't really. The priest was there and the others all said they'd have a go at him too.

There was something odd in the reasoning behind this.
It was clearly not in order for The Neighbour to retaliate in the presence of the priest, but it was seemingly fine for the assembled Alcoholics to back up Don Antonio. Someone should do a study....

Well, that was most kind of you. Was that what you dropped by to tell me?

No...I've got a problem. My brother in law gave me a bottle of his guaro (home brewed alcohol) for my brother and I drank it on the way.

Light dawned.

So you need another bottle in case your brother in law squeals on you? I don't have any guaro.

No, but you've got that banana wine....your husband gave me a bottle once. Wonderful stuff. I woke up in the ditch and my brother said I'd been singing for hours!

Doubtless the censorious would say that I would be wrong to give more alcohol to a drunk....and doubtless the censorious would think themselves right.

As I got up to go in search he held up his hand.

Can I have two bottles? I want to take one to the next AA meeting to show the boys....

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  1. Alcoholic Anonymous... it always did sound like a club for secret drinkers...

    1. Father used to refer to mother's coffee morning visitors as Alcoholics Anonymous...all those carefully wrapped sherry bottles from the grocer...

  2. Marvellous! What a lively bunch those AA's are. I'm in stunned admiration at the way he must have negotiated the journey cross-country without mishap.

    1. I can only think he would have had to be in a state of complete inebriation even to have contemplated it...but he could still talk!

  3. This is another one of your seriously funny posts!Such honesty! Such integrity!

    1. Well, slice Don Antonio where you like, he is a gentleman.

  4. Your punchline had me guffawing, Fly, but the whole post is both funny and touching. I love the idea of Don Antonio as your verray, parfit, gentil knight, facing up to The Neighbour. I reckon he earned his bottle of home-made. :-)

    1. Well, that beat me too! Sounds as though they get together in alcoholic solidarity rather than anything else!

      Don Antonio is very chivalrous where it comes to women, children and the elderly.
      I doubt he's so chivalrous when it comes to a barney!

  5. Oh goodness, that made me laugh. Picturing you with a bayonet in hand. Where was Mr. Fly during the commotion? Sleeping peacefully, would be my guess.

    Sounds like an entertaining visit. I'd have given him a bottle or two as well, just for the story of it!

    1. Mr. Fly was working on the house in San Jose, so I was on my own with the dogs.

      The bayonet is a French one from the 1879s...very long!

      As we can't have a firearm, cold steel is the next best thing...I don't suppose you have come across the BBC programme 'Dad's Army', but a character in it always announces - in respect of the bayonet - that 'they don't like it up them'. I suspect he is right!

      Don Antonio is all long as it isn't your car radio or copper cable he is nicking...

    2. How is the house in San Jose coming along? I can't believe you're not allowed firearms. Is that a citizenship thing? One would think a firearm might be handy living in the rural areas.

    3. It's doing well....gutters repaired and painted before the rainy season, atrium windowframes likewise...bathroom installed, kitchen units in place ready for tiling...neighbours met with and committee formed to solve problem of a spring that is messing up the drains....

      I could have a firearm in the company name for security purposes, but there are a lot of restrictions which mean that when you need to use it you can't!
      I've always had a shotgun before, but in both France and the U.K. it has become the case that responsible people can't have firearms while crooks and ne'er do wells can and do.
      I reckon it is because governments fear middle class people turning on them.
      Crooks and ne'er do wells won't - they have their own occupations...

  6. Hey..get you..armed with a bayonet! Very brave.
    He sounds like quite a character, and a gentleman, albeit a drunken one.

    You do tell your stories so well Fly. I really enjoyed that!

  7. Well, I've usually lived in the country and am used to having a gun for unexpected night occurrences...but here I don't have one so it's the bayonet - quite a formidable beast, all the same.
    We found it in a house we were renovating.
    My father taught me how to attack with a bayonet in he days when the British army still had proper ones instead of pig stickers.

    Mark you, I think it's foolhardy rather than brave, but I'm not hanging around to be attacked. I follow the style of the Leeds footballer, Norman 'bite your leg' Hunter - get your retaliation in first!

    Don Antonio is what my grandmother called one of nature's gentlemen....

  8. LOL! You are such an excellent raconteur. I'm impressed at Don Antoinio's AA cronies's version of neighbourhood watch.

    1. Most people are interesting if you take the time to listen to them...even if most people don't turn up completely stotious at three in the morning!

      If he's an example...rolling up and down mountains having drink taken... then his cronies would be a formidable bunch!

  9. I must sound really bloodthirsty, but I like the idea that D. Antonio was able to thump The Neighbour with impunity *because the priest was there*. Liberation theology or old testament?

  10. I'll still be laughing this time next week!

  11. What a great blogpost! You certainly make my life look tame in the banlieue of Paris. I like that you grabbed a bayonet without any hesitation too.

    1. Well, I can't handle a machete properly yet and the bayonet - one of those long ones from the 1870s - gives a fair bit of reach.
      It certainly gave a rural French would-be burglar the willies some years ago...he was off like greased lightning.
      I'd have gone out with the gun but the gendarmerie frown on people shooting would-be burglars...

  12. How I am loving the image of you in your nightie and curlers (or rags, maybe?), advancing into the moonlight with your bayonet at the ready. :) Thank you for another wonderful post.

    1. Hair long, thus adding to mad woman effect, Quantas pyjama top and bottoms courtesy of BIL who travels first class, dressing gown and fake Crocs...enough to give any sensitive soul the willies even without the bayonet!

  13. Rolling on the floor, Fly. Oh for a photo. :D

    1. Perhaps I should try to reproduce the effect of above in the orange light of the street lamp and use it as my gravatar...

  14. Rolling on the floor, Fly. :D Thank you so very much for the joy you bring to my life every time I come to your blog.

  15. You with a bayonet - enough to turn anyone to drink!

    1. Crumbs...I'm going to be Don Antonio's excuse......