Chris Middleton was one of the talents at my school. Although we have not stayed in touch I always enjoy reading his feature articles. Yesterday one appeared in the Telegraph. He described a service called Sober Services for those of an addictive bent. A sober companion accompanies you to social occasions to prevent any additive abuse primarily alcohol. If necessary the sober companion can be with you 24/7. Often it is a despairing family that approaches them. Now this had me thinking why the family need an outsider and of a young woman I had the pleasure of knowing whom I have already referred to as C. C combined great looks with high intelligence and a forceful manner.
One evening we went to a dinner party organised by trustees of a charity of which I was one. The idea was that one guest comes along with a view to donating. “With a view to donating” is very much the driving force of most charities with which I’ve been associated, and indeed to which I’ve donated. Indeed to avoid attending the meetings where targets were analysed, I found it more preferable to donate and becoming one. On this occasion, and as ever, C was the centre of attention, particularly of the men on either side of her, as my neighbour, one of their wives, could not make it clearer that she regarded my relationship as inappropriate for age reasons.
On the way home I expressed forcefully my displeasure that, whilst I had to endure some harridan, my guest C had given those around her the time of their lives. “If we get invited again I will sort this” promised C .
Sure enough, the next time I was sat next to C. The only thing was we only had one wine glass. All was made clear when the self same harridan had said to me “You are a lucky chap to have such an concerned friend over your drinking and we are all going to ensure you just drink 2 glasses, as C has ordered”
Apparently C had spoken to the woman in advance and said, concerned by my drinking, she imposed her two glass regime. This meant she controlled the glass and would pass it to me, but the maximum was two glassfuls. Naturally she had to sit beside me to control matters .
This seems a far cheaper solution than Sober Solutions, whose intervention runs into several thousand pounds. But here’s the best bit. When we left the harridan said to me:
“C is s a quite remarkable young lady and I’m going to impose the same regime on mine. She’s quite wasted on you, Robert.”
She was, and a few months later stopped seeing me. I have though a notebook full of her witticisms which I still use to enliven many a dreary dinner party.