Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Pillow talk with Nini: Come the revolution...

Midweek, late evening. Nini had been hosting some kind of event at the house whereby hoards of women turn up and eat cake and look at jewellery. This is 'not my thing', by a wide margin (think several thousand miles) and so I decided to stay hidden away from them all evening in self-imposed exile in the loft with MarioKart, face lit only by the reflection of the TV screen. At 10:30 Nini called sarcastically up the stairs, in a slurred voice "They have gone now, it's safe for you to come out again..." which set the alarm bells ringing - and sure enough, when I came down from the loft it transpired that a couple of white wine spritzers and her almost legendary lack of ability to cope with alcohol had worked their magic: Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Tipsy Nini.
Other drunks get maudlin, or bellicose - not my wife. You can measure, with far greater accuracy than any breathalyser, the units of alcohol Nini has consumed by her mood, as follows:
Phase 1 (1-2 Units): 'Party' mood: Gets a bit louder, makes bad jokes, laughs loudly at them, often alone. Laughs even harder if you look perplexed as to why she is laughing.
Phase 2 (2-4 Units): 'Provocateur mood': Adopts a deliberately antagonistic personality and will, for no good reason, persist in taking a contrary view to those around her to see how far she can wind them up. Classic example : "You know what your problem is? You're too defensive..." (Try replying to that without proving her point)
Phase 3 (5 Units): "Amorous mood". Sadly, the timing of this phase and the window for which she remains in it is so very small that I cannot recall, in over a decade of being together, a single time I have ever been able to capitalise on it.
Phase 4 (6-8 Units): "Random nonsense mood". In which her train of thought becomes seriously derailed and she is capable of talking at great length about absolute rubbish.
Phase 5 (9 Units): Asleep.
When she has been drinking and I haven't, I almost invariably catch her in the fourth or fifth phases - and so it was to be tonight.
"How many spritzers have you had? " I asked.
"Oh, three or four" she said, confirming my suspicion: we were definitely clear of 'amorous' and well into 'random nonsense'. Our bedtime conversation backed that up...
"You know we had a power cut today?" she asked
I said that I did. It was a planned outage, and a pain in the backside, as it forced me to go into the office instead of working from home.
"When they turned the power back on, they got all the clocks right...."
"What do you mean?
"When I came home in the afternoon, the power was back on and all the clocks were set at the right time..."
I thought about this. "Maybe they never turned it off at all."
"They did. I was here. The lights all went out. But when I came home they were all on again, and they were set at the right time. Isn't that sinister?
I thought about it some more. "Not if they turned the power back on at Noon. All digital clocks start at Noon if you haven't set them, so it would have been the right time..."
"Oh..." she said, in a faintly disappointed voice.
"I bet they do it deliberately", I added, warming to the idea "I bet they try and schedule the switch on for Noon if they can, to try and make sure nobody has to reset their clocks."
There was a silence. It was clear that this idea, full of unwanted, imagination-crushing logic, was far less preferable to her than the alternative she had in mind - which was presumably some kind of covert team of crack housebreakers employed by PowerGen to correctly reset all the household clocks...
"Do you know," she finally said, "that we don't have a single proper clock in this house?"
"The house is full of clocks, Nini. There's one by your bed, look - just there.."
"That's not a proper clock. That's a digital clock"
"So?"
"So when we had the power cut, there wasn't a single clock in this house working."
I thought about this. She was correct. Neither of us wears a watch, and every clock we habitually use - i.e the one on the video, the one on the cooker and the bedside alarm clock - are digital.
"Hmm, you're right."
"Don't you think that's a problem?"
"A problem? Why is that a problem?"
"What if, come the revolution, there's a power cut, and we can't tell the time?"
"What revolution is this, exactly?"
"You know, THE revolution. When society crumbles."
"Why has that happened?"
"Doesn't matter. What about the clocks?"
"You think the lack of a battery-driven analogue clock is going to be a big problem for us, do you?"
"Yes. It might be."
"Really? Why?"
"They might announce a food drop on the radio, and we miss it because don't know what time it is and don't set off in time."
"Seriously? Are you for real? Can you even hear what you're saying?"
"It's a distinct possibility."
"It's total crap. Don't you think that there might be higher priorities we need to address first, like the lack of food, or warmth?"
"The food situation is alright. The neighbours have got chickens for eggs, and we are growing some sweetcorn. So we can share with them, and all live on corn fritters. And you've got that jumper you never wear - you can put that on to keep warm."
"I don't believe I'm hearing this..."
"The neighbours liked the idea."
"The neighbours? You've talked to the neighbours about sharing resources in the event of society collapsing? When?"
"Earlier. I was in the garden."
"Good God. I hate it when you've been drinking and I haven't..."
"It's an important consideration. We should deal with the clock issue, now, while we've thought about it..."
"Fine. Fine. I want to go to sleep. Next time I'm in Woolworths, I'll pick up a wall clock."
"That's all I'm saying. Pick up a wall clock..." (This delivered in a tone as to suggest that she had finally, through the repeated and diligent use of calm reasoning and logical thought, somehow gotten a critical point across...)
And with that, she entered phase 5 and fell immediately asleep. So if the end of society does occur soon, you'll know where to find me: I'll be sitting looking at a wall clock in an itchy jumper, eating corn fritters. I only hope you're all as well prepared as we are...

1 comment:

pw said...

My mother once expressed concern over the fact that I work with computers. She said, "What are you going to do when the power goes out?", presumeably referring when the modern world as we know it comes to a screeching halt.

The nice thing about your situation, providing you actually purchase a proper clock, is that you'll be able to properly use time to ration your corn fritters.

Great insight, as usual.