Sunday, February 4, 2024

My name is AC and I have an alcohol problem

Greetings all - it's been a while since I posted but the past few years have been bonkers both work wise and personally but now it's time to admit that I have a major problem.

I'm not talking about being ready for 10 steps and submitting myself to almighty Jebus and praising dog (also whilst admitting my dyslexia) but it's actually time to stand up and say "My name is AC and I have an alcohol problem".

The major problem is that I've become a lightweight. There - I've taken the first step. My tolerance for alcohol is probably at the lowest it's been in my adult life. I'm rubbish at drinking now - my monthly intake barely covers what I used to put away during a lunchtime and still be productive in the afternoon. I'm ashamed of myself. And it needs to change pretty damn sharpish.

This came to a head last weekend when I had an absolute shocker - I'd barely had a drop all month before meeting some friends for beers on Friday night. I managed to be home by 9.30pm despite only having met up just after 6. Then on the Sunday I thought I was being sensible by waiting all day for a beer before the NFL championship games - the 49ers playing at 11.30pm UK time with the early game starting at 8. I cracked a beer open mid way through the 1st quarter of the Chiefs v Ravens game and settled in for an anticipated 3am finish. By half time I was ready for bed - halftime in the AFC game!  I'd barely managed 2 beers and a whole hour of sport! I'm rubbish and I really don't like it. 

Which is why I have a plan: get your ass to Mars then go to the Hilton and flash that Brubaker ID at the desk - that's all there is to it.

No. Wait. Hang on. I'm pretty sure Mars isn't habitable yet and even if it is there's probably a dearth of decent beer and poker options. 

I mean Vegas don't I? I need to get my ass to Vegas. That has beer and poker if I totally recall correctly.

I've been to Vegas once since the big C (fuck me was that really 4 years ago?) and that was for under 24 hours which although profitable and alcohol fuelled is a distant memory. Or has my memory been erased by Richter? No - I really was in Vegas 2 years ago and it's definitely a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

So this is where I need to get myself match fit and ready for a big surprise - I'm in the middle of organising something that will have me in Vegas for a couple of weeks a month for the next couple of years. I've got a bit of planning to do but hopefully I'll make a return in June or July this year but I've got a load of logistics to sort out in the meantime.

So I need to up my drinking game so that I'm ready for the carnage that my liver has missed out on - I'll be starting next weekend whilst watching the 49ers hopefully avenging the loss from 4 years ago and I'll be partaking in quite a few beers - so many so that it's going to make me wish that I had three hands.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Easter In Bruges

One of my favourite films is called "In Bruges". If you haven't seen it you should - it's fucking brilliant.

Two inept hitmen are sent to Bruges to hide out after a job, which is one of the main character's ideal location with lots of historic places to see and the other's idea of hell which means he wants to spend most of his time drinking. It features copious amounts of violence and a dwarf on ketamine. It also has a shit load of swearing, which personally I'm not a massive fan of, as you may well know if you're a regular reader of my ramblings. But it's actually a dark comedy rather than an action or horror movie and there's nothing overly cerebral in the plot to confuse my tiny mind - a few of the best clips are here but it does contain a few plot spoilers

It was on TV a few months ago and I watched it with Mrs AC who asked if I'd ever visited Bruges. I have, I was 7 or 8 and the only memory I have of going is spending half the day being told off by my mother because I'd managed to tread in some dog poo. I'll repeat that I was 7 or 8!

Mrs AC then declared she wanted to visit as it looked fantastic. Any idea which of the main characters I'm going to be yet?

Mrs AC, despite being American, is actually quite cultured and loves visiting historic European cities as her image of Europe whilst she was growing up was that we all live in some sort of medieval fantasy land. Bruges hits that spot as it's Northern Europe's best preserved historic city and the whole city centre has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. There are some far better photos than I'm capable of taking here

But Bruges, being in Belgium, is not that far from the brewery where the world's best beer is made so having put in another order we organised a long weekend away over the Easter break which is a 4 day weekend in the UK.

An early start and a long wait at the eurotunnel entrance (thanks Brexit!) didn't phase us and once we arrived in France (only 35 minutes by train under the English Channel) it was an easy 2 hour drive through northern France and Belgium before arriving mid afternoon and checking into a B&B not unlike that featured in the film. Less than 2 hours after arriving I'm itching for a beer despite Mrs AC's protestations that she wanted to do more sight seeing and we ended up in a fantastic 800 year old cellar bar with over 100 beers to choose from

The weekend flew by like this before I took Mrs AC to Brussels for the flight home on Monday as she needed to be back in London whilst the only pick up day for my beer was on Tuesday so I found another B&B near the brewery and drove home on Tuesday with a trunk full of beer and a few bottles of wine (Mrs AC is the oenophile whereas I could barely tell a merlot from a malbec). Well I say a trunk full but thanks to Brexit we are now only able to transport a limited amount of booze before incurring import taxes but 42 litres of beer and 18 litres of wine should keep us going for a while. 

Please comment below with your favourite film and whether you've visited the location where it was set or filmed. My next favourite film is Dumb and Dumber but I'm not sure I fancy a cross country road trip whilst driving a dog liveried van! 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

28 hours later

It's Thursday morning and I'm told that the person I was due to spend time with on Thursday and Friday won't be in the office. I have virtually no other plans. 

28 hours later I'm feeling like death, there is definitely someone playing the bongos inside my head and I'm over 5,000 miles from home. Fuck. The last time I was here was 705 days ago and I was sitting in the exact same chair, feeling like death after another hastily organised trip and a big session the previous night At least I'm consistent. 

I'm at the airport in Vegas, which was not exactly the place I was meant to be until my conversation the previous morning. 

I'd been in LA since Sunday with the intention of staying there all week when I'm effectively cut short on Thursday morning. What to do? The chances of getting a seat on that evening's flight back to London are pretty slim so I can either stay in LA or head to Vegas for a night. But one night in Vegas is barely worth it is it? Oh.....right.

Having booked a flight and a room for less than just an extra night in LA I'm at LAX for a mid afternoon hop over to LAS with a couple of drinks inside me before the flight. Therein lies the probable cause of me feeling like death, or at least the start of it anyway. 

One thing I've really not done much of over the last 705 days is boozing. I've only travelled twice since the US opened its borders (it should have been more and my drinking has reverted to what most people would consider a sensible level. I usually only have a couple of drinks at home and certainly don't drink at the level I do when I'm in Vegas - a long poker session usually sees me running out of fingers when counting beers drunk, necessitating the use of toes to keep a running count. 

But anyway - back to Thursday afternoon and once I'd jumped in a cab and checked in I'm ready for some food and poker, in that order. Before Covid I would definitely have prioritised poker but now I'm sensible I actually need to eat so I headed to TAP for a burger before sitting down at the poker table just after 7. It's a very nitty game and I'm actually referred to as a "young Euro aggro" player more than once. I'm flattered to be called young but I've never been called aggro before - what do these guys expect though if there's 6 limps and I can 100% guarantee that by raising they'll all fold? Again and again it was the same story and I think I won at least 6 times preflop with this strategy. 

I must have scared them all off as by 11pm it's a much looser contingent of players and given I've now had a week's worth of booze in the last few hours I need to slow down so I can actually focus on the cards. A few unremarkable hours passed and it's nearly 3am before I cash out a $300 profit and stumble back to the Signature. I've missed doing the drunken stumble although I'd forgotten how far it is. Apparently I called Mrs AC who was back in London but I have literally no recollection of the phone call or conversation but she later told me she'd used a phrase which rhymes with "plucking sunken boron" but I'm still none the wiser!

So Friday afternoon was spent recovering on the short flight back to LA before I got some sleep on the overnight flight back to London and I'm starting to feel slightly less like death as I write this on the train home.

I'm still trying to organise a trip to Vegas for the Superbowl but it's looking less likely by the day at the moment. If the 49ers manage to win this weekend I'll be happy to watch it from home though and I won't need to take my shoes and socks off to keep track of the numbers of beers I've had! 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Of mice (in the attic) and men

Just when it was starting to look better somebody has obviously fucked with the game settings and we look like we're going backwards in terms of the world opening up.

Our original Christmas plans were to have visitors from the US at home in London before travelling to Paris for a few days but France shut their borders to travellers from the UK - what do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?

On Christmas Eve we picked up our guests (Mrs AC's best friend plus boyfriend from NY) from Heathrow having given them strict instructions not to have found out the score to the previous night's 49ers v Titans game. Given that Mrs AC and our friends are all Giants fans they seem to have lost most of their interest in the NFL season by now - I wonder why that could be? My interest is waning now given that the 49ers need to beat the Rams this Sunday or hope for an unlikely Saints loss.

Mrs AC had been itching to decorate the house with Christmas decorations since just after Halloween but I put her off until after Thanksgiving. When I retrieved the decorations boxes from the attic I found traces of some uninvited guests - mice! Oh joy. I put a couple of traps up there and I've been finding one every few days so lord knows how many of the little fuckers are up there - I lost count at 12 and we had a shock one morning when there was an utter racket coming from the attic. It turned out that the trap had caught one without killing it and it was dragging the trap around the attic trying to escape!

Christmas was pretty relaxing, followed by a few days in London doing touristy things then driving down to Stonehenge where we met up with friends who then came back to London with us and stayed for New Year.

But now the house is quiet as Mrs AC has travelled back to NY for work for a couple of weeks and it's just me and the ever dwindling mouse population as I'm not confident that I've killed them all yet. If I keep finding them I may need to invite my mother to stay so she can kidnap a neighbour's cat but I'm afraid that the cure will be worse than the symptoms. 

Anyway - happy new year all and I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

I am a complete idiot

Back when I was young organising a drinking session was full of pitfalls - usually dominated around whether we'd get served or when we'd manage to act like dicks and get thrown out of the pub. An evening out usually folllowed the same steps: get to pub and hide in the nook round by the pool table, the oldest looking or the one with the best ID would head to the bar and order (why is it that some kids seem to be 6 foot and able to grow a full beard before the age of 15, which was definitely not me); then we'd play pool, put shit songs on the jukebox (90s music has a lot to answer for!) before we'd invariably act like dicks because we were, at the end of the day, still kids, and therefore dicks. Then we'd get thrown out. 

Sometimes there would be a few hours between the first and last of these steps, sometimes there would be a lot less time, but I'd say that the last step was achieved around 75% of the time before we left of our own accord or just ran out of money. It was a constant game of cat and mouse with the landlord of the pub who obviously knew what was going on but was prepared to take our money as long as we didn't act like dicks. I grew up in quite a small village and this seems to be the norm - if you've watched the fantastic film "Hot Fuzz" starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost it's exactly like the pub scene - right down to the part where a 5 foot 2 teenager produces a fake ID stating that he's in his late 20s (my brother is 12 years older than I am and I thought about carrying his old passport but there was no way that anyone was daft enough to have taken it seriously).

But anyway - back to the last step of our night out in getting thrown out. On none of the occasions of getting thrown out was I ever tempted to argue or even fight with the landlord or the bouncer doing the evicting. Primarily because I was the 5 foot 2 teenager (I think I must have been starved as a child as I grew nearly a foot in under a year when I worked in a restaurant between the ages of 16 and 18), secondly because the landlord was fucking massive (although looking back I assume everyone looks fucking massive when you're only 5 foot 2) and thirdly because the landlord knew all of our parents, who if they weren't in the other bar of the pub were probably regulars. As I said, it was a small village and everyone knew everyone else.

Nowadays a drinking session is much easier to sort out - turn up, drink then go home. Occasionally the added step of showing ID rears its ugly head but that's usually not my concern (Mrs AC actually loves it when she gets asked for ID but it usually only happens in the US, although I was asked in Walgreens beneath PH in Vegas and I declared to Mrs AC that I must look under 21 - my parade was soon pissed on when the cashier stated that it's store policy to ID everyone, irrespective of age). 

But a couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a nice lunch with Mrs AC, sipping a few glasses of something chilled and bubbly when I was asked for ID and the end of the conversation was "this gentleman is going to escort you out" and I actually thought of violating my cardinal rule of "don't fight with the bouncer". The gentleman in question was 20 years older than me, a foot shorter was not going to be prepared for a fight - even if he could kick like a mule I could out run him quite easily. But I had a flashback to when I last got close to fighting a bouncer - it didn't go well. I got my head staved in. I must add that the bouncer in question was a Winnie-the-Pooh baby bouncer which was being used by the older cost centre to bounce in a door way and smashed me right on the side of the head, breaking my eye socket and giving me the worst black eye I've ever seen. In my line of business it's really not a good look to turn up to work looking like I've been in a fight over the weekend although I did notice that even senior guys were offering to get me coffee that week!

So back to our lunch - we were at Heathrow airport waiting for flights when there's an announcement "If there's a Mr AC please could he make himself known to a member of staff". This isn't overly unusual as I often get offered pre-boarding or assistance getting to the gate but given that I haven't flown in nearly 2 years it's certainly a surprise. I usually politely decline this but some agents in the US take this to a new level (I once had my carry on luggage ripped from my hand by a NY check in agent who then proceeded to literally shove people out of the way whilst loudly stating "VIP coming through" which still causes me pain). So I identify myself and get back to my lunch and drinks with Mrs AC. 

That's when the problems start - the lady who approaches me is not with a bouncer, he's with UK Border Force (our version of CBP) and she asks to see my passport. I hand it over and she asks if I have another passport to which I reply no. Then she starts reading from a script (about being denied boarding which is effectively making me aware that I can't sue them) and tells me that the border force agent needs to escort me out of the airport.

My passport has expired - I am a complete idiot. Not only have I let it expire but a few weeks before I've actually renewed my ESTA and typed the soon to be expired expiry date into the site.

I say my farewells to Mrs AC and get escorted out of the airport whilst making small talk with the border agent and ask him if he thinks I'm an idiot. He diplomatically says he sees it all the time but then enquires whether Mrs AC is going to be ok. Luckily for me she was off to NY for work whereas I was heading to LA and we weren't spending any more time together in the US after our lunch.

On the journey home I e-mail my client telling him I won't be able to get to the US and I'll call him on Monday morning to explain which ended up with him howling with laughter and calling me a fucking idiot. 

But that was a few weeks ago and now I've renewed my passport I've been in NY for a week, heading home this evening and I'm back in NY next week with Mrs AC who has been spending a week per month in NY since she started her new job back in April.

Happy holidays & Merry Christmas to all - at the moment I'm planning to be in Vegas some time in February (hopefully Superbowl time but not confirmed yet) next year but given I haven't played a proper hand of poker (home sessions don't count) in nearly 2 years I'm sure there's some easy money to be won.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Some sports, some sports. My kingdom for some sports

It's been ages since I last saw some live sports - the last time I was in Vegas, in fact, when I had a last minute trip and obtained an unscheduled ticket to the Fury v Wilder fight, just before everything went to ratshit back last February. 

I haven't been to see anything with Mrs AC since New Year's Day 2020 when we watched some lower league football with the friends we'd been visiting and I haven't been with the cost centres since a few months before then, when we saw our team trounced by Manchester Utd. 

But we've got something to look forward to in a few weeks time - well some of us are looking forward to it anyway. 

"I'm not doing it"
"It's so unfair"
"You can't make me"
"Even if I do go then I'm not going to enjoy it"
"You can't tell me what to do"

These were not the words of a stroppy teenager - the antagonist was Mrs AC and I need to keep her sweet because she'd kick my head in if we ever come to physical blows.

But anyway - what's prompted this from Mrs AC? She's normally as easy going as I am and is more than willing to partake in new experiences. But this isn't a new experience. Sort of anyway.

I've just told her that I've got tickets to one of the London NFL games. She's a big (no pun intended) Giants fan and we even had plans to attend the Giants v 49ers (my team) game last season before all the travel bans were implemented so we watched it from home in London instead. Therein lies the problem.

One of my sons doesn't have a particular favourite team, the other does. It's the Jets. Mrs AC doesn't particularly like the Jets, albeit she doesn't particularly like most other teams, notably the Cowboys and the Patriots (when I first started seeing Mrs AC she was surprised that a Brit liked NFL and when I said I already supported a team her exact words were "if you say the Patriots this might be our last date". I don't think she was joking either).

The rationale for my eldest son supporting the Jets are explained in this post and they are playing in London this year so those are the tickets I've just got. 

"I've just forked out a kingdom for these tickets, I'm not having them go to waste. Besides, I thought you'd be pleased that Sarah is coming with us as well" I pleaded (Sarah is my son's friend's mum and she and Mrs AC get on like a house on fire). This perked her up and I managed to seal the deal by telling her that we can have a few drinks at the game - we've only ever been to football in the U.K. where it's illegal to drink alcohol in view of the pitch although I've told Mrs AC of my previous alcohol fuelled trips to rugby and cricket. 

So if you're watching the game and see someone in a Giants jersey (she's adamant that she's wearing hers although the boys will have Jets jerseys on) in the crowd it will most likely be Mrs AC. And if the person in the Giants jersey is holding a drink, ignoring the game whilst constantly chatting to a seat mate then it will definitely be her! 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

We’re all going on a summer helliday

Last year when trying to organise summer holiday plans with Mrs AC we had a few conditions that needed to be met: good weather; good local food and drink; a bit of culture and the ability to communicate with the locals - if there's one thing I do around the world is ensure I know how to order beer even if I can understand nothing else!

We ended up on a driving tour of France and Italy and we had a lovely time in the European sunshine, visited a couple of vineyards in the famous Champagne area and soaked up some culture on our trip to the Uffizi gallery in Florence (less famous than Paris's Louvre but definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area).

This year we had the same conditions but also had a couple of extra passengers to cater for - the cost centres. Now if I'd given them the choice of destinations the only prerequisite would have been the ability to eat their own weight in ice cream on a daily basis. But anyway, I'm rambling. 

Unfortunately we had to add a couple of extra conditions ourselves: country on the green list (amber means 10 days home quarantine upon return whilst red means 10 days hotel quarantine) and we had to be able to drive there again (the boys' mother has decided to not let them fly, trying to make my life as hard as possible as usual!)

Having studied the list of available destinations we were left with one choice - a staycation. But having looked at prices and availability we were stumped - anything near decent was either ridiculously or fully booked. 

Then one of the cost centres uttered the most scary 5 words I've heard in my life "We could go to Nanna's" (if you're new here that's in the Highlands of Scotland whereas we live in the suburbs of London). I swear I heard the Psycho shower scene music. 

Dear lord no, it doesn't even get a point on the original holiday criteria does it?

Weather: could be ok, could be shit. Probably the latter but the problem is that it's not consistent - it could be freezing one day and mildly warm the next. A hot day is barely into the mid 60s - any warmer and the entire population will either explode or shout at the sun and start sacrificing goats or virgins to make it go away again. 

Food and drink: the country's main contribution to world cuisine consists of a dish made of a sheep's heart and lungs served up inside the sheep's own stomach lining. I think it was invented as a joke to stop the English from stealing it and it's been banned from the USA since the 1970s. Their other contributions include the deep fried mars bar - a candy bar coated in the same batter you'd cover fish in then deep fried until crispy, disgusting and the precursor to having a heart attack and an unintelligible conversation with a paramedic (see point 4). If you survive your heart attack you'll get to sample the local favourite drink as well - Irn-Bru (again banned in the USA) which is a sickly sweet bright orange soda with more sugar in a can than should be consumed in a lifetime. Don't be fooled that because of its colour it might actually taste of orange - it's fucking vile and makes you want to spit it out, but if you do the orange colouring will instantly stain anything it touches (I think that's why it's banned in the USA and I think His Donaldness wanted it banned in his U.K. golf resorts). They do have whisky though and there are a few local distilleries within an hour so they get half a point. But even I can't survive a whole holiday on whisky can I? I'm not even attempting it. 

Culture: there's some old castles and historic battlefields but nothing that we haven't been to before. 

Language: whilst the official language is English I'm not overly convinced. Some of the locals have such a heavy accent that I just smile and nod politely. They could be asking to sacrifice the cost centres to appease the angry sun god and make the weather return to constant drizzle for all I know. There's also a sizeable group that don't particularly like the English - a stranger in a pub drunkenly barking "Are you English pal?" is usually a precursor to a fight. Mrs AC is ok though as she's American so she'll answer for me and I'll do the heroic thing and stand behind her if things turn nasty. Some locals are intelligible though but that's no better, they are usually insane and have invented their own language - wittering. My mother for example. 

So no. If I have one ounce of sway in this decision we are not going to stay at my mum's in Scotland. The boys and Mrs AC are adamant that they want to go but I'm standing firm - no amount of pestering will get me up there. 

We're going to Scotland then! Fuck. Maybe I was really nasty in a previous life and this is my punishment. It's a summer helliday. 

But anyway - I'm not one to mope around when I don't get my own way so after the boys finished school for the summer on Friday we set off on the 650 mile journey early on Saturday morning. It's pretty plain sailing most of the way but it's an all day journey with only a stop for coffee mid morning and a late lunch before arriving just in time for the football at 8pm and I'm gasping for a beer. Then the insanity started - if you're a regular reader you'll know that my mother is completely bonkers. 

My mother brings me a beer - a warm one. What am I? A heathen? She'd texted one of the boys whilst we were travelling and asked if we wanted anything when she popped to the shop and my only request was for beer. I obviously hadn't stated that they needed to be cold because anyone that's not completely bonkers would understand that. Not my mother though - she'd actually bought them cold from the shop's fridge then put them into a cupboard to warm. FFS! At least she waits until half time before inflicting us with her next portion of lunacy. 

She then announces that because the next day is 4th July she's got a treat for Mrs AC - a turkey. Err ok! Why in utter bejesus has she got a turkey I hear you ask - turns out she's mixed up her holidays and as she'd defrosted it we had to cook it. My mother is not good in the kitchen and as we don't fancy eating turkey that's rare or has been nuked we end up spending nearly all of Sunday sorting out a turkey dinner.

But anyway - we've been here a week now and have walked, biked, golfed and fished. Mrs AC is still determined she's going to see a live haggis this time but we have seen otters, seals, deer and an eagle (U.K. wildlife is a bit tame in comparison to the US - we don't have anything overly interesting but the most dangerous thing we have is an adder although I've never even seen one). 

It's now Sunday and we're all looking forward to tonight's game - if England win then the boys and I have said we'll wear our England shirts for the rest of the week. This will probably end up with us being hunted down by a local posse as if you ask a Scottish football fan who he supports he'll declare he has 2 teams - Scotland and anyone playing England. Again I'll be hiding behind Mrs AC if things turn nasty. 

We are travelling back at the end of next week but here are some photos (I'm the world's most useless photographer so I'm more amazed that any of them are actually in focus)

Dog - useful as a sundial for the 8 days per year you can see a shadow

Seals - just fat, wet dogs really

Links golf - hard. Even harder when there's a 60mph wind blowing across the course

Scenery - nice view and I couldn't think of anything witty to put here 

More scenery- still can't think of anything witty to write

Mother - batshit insane (yes she really is vacuuming her patio - no, I have no idea either)

Neighbour - another tick in the insane column as they have what appears to be a missile outside their house

Beer - wet and cold. It's a local beer and not actually available in England. I read a review that described it as "tasting more of tomorrow's hangover than yesterday's hops",  maybe the US will ban it but it's not like they have an aversion to bland, tasteless lagers is it? 

Have a great summer all - hopefully I'll get up to some drunken shenanigans fairly soon as I'm starting to get tired of this boring version of life!