Sunday, December 29, 2019

Welcome to the family sweetheart

Christmas was a nightmare - or an unmitigated disaster. Probably the latter. There's a saying that you can choose your friends but not your family and it basically sums up my life. As dramatic as you think my life is, most of the drama is caused by other people - I'm sane, rational and completely sober. Well 2 of those are true anyway. But anything involving anyone else leads my life down a path that is completely bonkers - especially anything that involves my family, so when they all get together it's like some form of "quickening". For idiots, not immortals though - at least I hope my family are not all immortals, I would rather lose my head than do this for the rest of eternity.

We (the cost centres plus Mrs AC) flew up to Scotland on the Sunday before Christmas to stay with my mother for 5 days. Along the way we'd stopped in the supermarket to pick up some booze (my twitter poll said I'd not bought enough) and within 5 minutes of arriving I wish we'd stayed at home. No amount of normality is enough for my mother to not treat the most uninteresting act as if she's been on a quest for the holy grail. She went to the supermarket on Sunday, Monday and again on Tuesday - before panicking that the shops were shut on Christmas Day itself and she'd arranged a delivery on Monday evening as well. Then she popped to the shops on Thursday. How in bejesus does she manage in normal life? Or maybe I just need more booze.

So anyway. On Monday we went to the local town to get away for a few hours - it's like being in the walking dead. I live in London so I'm used to crowds, albeit that I hate them, so I'm more than used to large groups of people meandering pointlessly but her local town is something else. Dozens of people not looking where they are going did nothing to infuse me with the Christmas spirit - I've got very pointy elbows and a bizarrely low tolerance level so a few of the locals were sporting some bruises. The highlight of the day was one cost centre wanting to buy his Nanna a present - I'd told him to buy a DVD or something small, maybe costing £5 ($8) or so as the adults don't really expect much in terms of presents. He declared he had no money (his mother probably x-rays him on the way out the house to ensure he's not carrying anything of value and she's not out of pocket) so he asked Mrs AC to borrow £20. Mrs AC then tells me that she has only got dollars and no pounds so asks me for £100. In economics we call this the money multiplier effect (it's a way that the banking system effectively creates money in an economy) but for the life of me I can't work out who is trying to con who the most.

On Christmas Eve my brother plus family arrived - individually they are usually tolerable but as a family I call them the Flintstones, because they generally leave a trail of chaos in their wake. My brother is the most disorganised person on the planet so I'm actually surprised when he turns up on the expected day but he's usually left everyone in a foul mood by being late for a flight and not having pre-booked a car or accommodation. Or when he's sorted himself out he's not told anyone of the plans so is surprised that no one knows what is going on. But this time he's actually got his act together and they are staying in the same cottage that we'd stayed in over the summer (about 100 yards from my mother's house) whilst we were in the depths of hell staying at my mother's. I wish we'd been staying there, or further away. At home maybe. Or even abroad.

Along with my brother and his wife (my brother is 12 years older than me and his wife is 6 years older than him so I'm actually closer to his kids than I am to them) were his 2 grown up children and their girlfriends. I've only met the older nephew's GF a couple of times but I've never met the younger one's before. Mrs AC has only met the older nephew and hasn't met anyone else, apart from my mother, before. The older nephew's GF has one topic of conversation - herself. Which is probably why I, and the rest of the family, don't particularly like her. She is hot though - which is probably why nephew 1 is infatuated by her. I don't have it in me to tell him that hotness will fade and his infatuation will be replaced by annoyance and contempt. Unless she's filthy, in which case he's infatuated for a good reason.

The younger nephew's GF is lovely and Mrs AC chatted for hours with her as if they were old friends. Nephew 1's GF hated this - and proceeded to make thinly barbed comments to them both during the 3 days we all spent together. The highlight being on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) when she handed nephew 2's GF a beer and pointed out the health warning of the dangers of drinking whilst pregnant, but the warning was worded "there's even a danger of girls getting fat if they drink too much". None of the girls are overweight or pregnant but Mrs AC told me she'd have taken a swing for her had she said the same to her. She then managed to piss off Mrs AC by telling her that she was an expert on New York because she'd been there 4 times and questioned what Mrs AC could possibly know about the city - when Mrs AC replied she'd lived there for the best part of 30 years it shut her up. For a bit anyway. I'd stopped listening by then and was really just waiting for the violence to start. My money would have been on Mrs AC - I've got 6 inches and 50 pounds on her but she'd probably kick my head in if we came to blows. I'm a lover not a fighter!!

So to Christmas Day - I was doing the cooking but I had no idea how many for. My younger brother had been invited plus one of my mother's friends. My younger brother can be a stroppy sod and told us he'd decide on the day - fine. But he lives 20 minutes away plus he doesn't have a car so he's expecting to be picked up then dropped home - this then precludes someone from drinking which is very selfish (he's rebuffed the idea of staying overnight or even of taking one of the cars and us arranging to pick it up the next day) but given I'm cooking I'm not letting it get to me.

At 7am on Christmas Day we woke up to the sound of wrapping paper rustling - the cost centres had been given strict instructions not to open presents before we were all up so I was more than prepared to give them a shouting at. But it wasn't them - it was nutcase mother who was up and shaking presents to try to decipher their contents. Once she'd been admonished the kids were up and my mother reverted to her usual activity of buggering about - spending an inordinate amount of time banging around whilst achieving exactly nothing. It took her 2 hours to empty her dishwasher - the only rational explanation is that it's a cross between Dr Who's tardis and the wardrobe from Narnia leading to some sort of infinite crockery paradox necessitating such a long time to put everything away. This went on for what seemed like an eternity so when she took the dog out with the kids I thought I'd gone deaf, such was the peace and quiet.

My mother's friend (she's in her 80s but is far more sensible than my mother) had been told we'd eat at 2pm - she turned up at 1.55pm. Now this is very Scottish, rather than rude. If I'd invited friends in London with the same timings they'd probably arrive at midday, have some drinks and a chat ahead of eating but it's a different world up in Scotland. Every single time I've ever cooked with people coming over they've always arrived 5 minutes before the allotted time then departed before the plates have been cleared away.

Mrs AC had one job whilst I cooked - keep my mother out of the kitchen. My mother is usually as loud as thunder but somehow becomes ninja like when I'm in the kitchen so I'm wary of turning round whilst carrying a pan of hot water or fat and spilling it all over her. Or of carrying a sharp knife and accidentally stabbing her, multiple times. Again and again, over and over just because she's in the way. Mrs AC failed - which gave me the excuse to drink. Luckily I was closest to the fridge and managed a few beers before the flintstones arrived. So I've just about kept my sanity whilst I've been cooking - and I mean just.

Now there's one thing you need to know about my brother's wife - she's not British (albeit she's lived in the U.K. since the early 90s). When she came to the U.K. for the 1st time she said something that is the daftest thing ever said when we sat down to Sunday lunch - what is bread sauce made of? Have a guess, seriously, ask your dog because he'll know the answer to this. We laughed our arses off at this and she's constantly reminded of this whenever it's served.

So as the dishes are being passed around the table Mrs AC is looking a bit suspiciously at a few of the offerings - there's a side dish called skirlie which is beef fat plus oatmeal which isn't everyone's cup of tea so I told her to ignore it but when she came to the bread sauce she uttered those immortal words - what's bread sauce made of? The entire table erupts in laughter and my brother says "welcome to the family sweetheart" whilst we go over the story of his wife saying the same sentence nearly 30 years previously. His wife thinks I've put her up to this but it's totally on her this time.

So Christmas day passed and I managed not to kill anyone and we arranged to eat the leftovers on Boxing Day - it's a holiday in the U.K. originally where the gentry would give presents and leftovers (in boxes, hence the name) to their servants. There's also a full football program on so after my mother went to the shops (fuck knows what for as the fridge was full and it's less than 2 days since her last visit) we all sat down to watch the football and have some beers.

Well the guys did - those without a Y chromosome were in a different room exchanging thinly veiled insults. We did what guys do best - ignore the nonsense and drink a few beers. Even the kids got wind of the idiocy when my oldest cost centre told me he was glad he didn't have a sister - he didn't say he was glad to have a brother but it's effectively the same thing when a pre teenage boy tells you that.

One last episode of batshit insanity ensued on the Friday - this time courtesy of one of my mother's friends. As we were loading the car up for the drive to the airport her friend arrived and handed me a Christmas present - a bottle of something which was wrapped. I thanked her for it and stuffed it into a bag so it wouldn't get broken on the journey. I'd completely forgotten about it until Saturday morning when we were unpacking and I gave it to Mrs AC to open and told her we'd share it after we watched the football later that evening. She opened it and declared it wasn't what I thought it was - I'd just assumed it was a bottle of wine. It wasn't. It was bright fucking blue. It was a bottle of an alcopop called WKD - the sort of thing you drink when you're a teenager and want to spend the evening vomiting foul coloured slime all over your friends' shoes when you're about 15 and don't like the taste of alcohol yet. Why in fuck's name she thought I'd want or even enjoy this I have no idea. That didn't stop us from opening it though - after we'd been out to the pub on Saturday to watch football we decided it's still booze after all. It's vile. It's sickly sweet and is probably only any good if it's used as de-icer, except that the alcohol content is only 4% so it would probably freeze quicker than water anyway. We tried it with vodka and it made it slightly better. Then we had the vodka straight up just to get the sickly sweetness out of our mouths and that was much better. So thanks for the blue stuff anyway. I'm going to put a positive spin on it and hope that my mum's friend thinks I'm still 15. I probably would have drunk it then if I'd got my hands on it - just that now, as an adult with quite a few years of drinking practice under my belt I need a lot more than one bottle to get the job done.

But now it's Sunday morning and we've got NFL all evening - Mrs AC is eager to not see her beloved Giants get steamrolled by the potentially playoff bound Eagles and we're both staying up late for the 1.30am kick off of the 49ers against the seahawks. Come on the 49ers - Mrs AC has promised to cheer them on even if it's one step closer to her owing me a trip to the Super Bowl if they make it all the way.

My travel plans are up in the air at the moment but we're heading down to Devon on Tuesday to spend 2 days with friends for New Year's then heading back to NY with Mrs AC on the 5th. I'll be in NY for at least a week but after that I haven't got confirmed plans yet.

Next time - my new drinking challenge. A new beers resolution!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A “fun” family Christmas

I owe Mrs AC a good Christmas - we sort of missed out on Thanksgiving due to my travel plans as we landed in London on the Thursday morning, there was no way of obtaining a fresh turkey as these are generally only available at Christmas and there was no real point in having a huge meal with copious leftovers as we were both flying back to NY on the Sunday. We did have a good weekend but I now owe her a decent turkey dinner. The original plan was for us to spend Christmas at mine with my cost centres then travel back to NY just after New Years. But my mother has decided that she's going to host a "family" Christmas - oh fucking joy.

The last time we had a "family" Christmas was about 15 years ago when about 18 of us got together and annoyed the fuck out of each other spent quality time together during the festive season - this was pre children for me but my brother's kids were still young.

My mother cooked - eventually anyway. Despite promising that dinner would be around 3pm we didn't sit down until close to 7pm, by which time everyone was too drunk to actually enjoy the food and too hungry for any conversation as we all stuffed as much down our throats as quickly as possible. How is it possible to be 4 hours late on something that only takes about 4 hours? No idea but it involved more fucking around than you could possibly imagine - fucking around being one of my mother's favourite activities. There is no task too simple that she won't spend hours procrastinating about then bugger around to within an inch of everyone's lives - in my house (and I assume everyone's) there's a couple of boxes to control the heating & hot water, I touch them maybe once a week - usually only to turn everything on or off depending on my travel movements that week but if I'm at home I'd never touch them. My mother spends a good 45 minutes a day fine tuning the timings and temperature as if her needs vary by the second. Or when she drives my car - bizarrely she doesn't adjust the mirrors but she will reprogram the radio stations so it matches the settings on the radio in her car. She only listens to 3 stations so why the fuck does she need to delete all my choices every time she gets in the car? It drives me mad.

I think my mother has only cooked me about 2 meals since then. She's really not good in the kitchen - her repertoire only consists of about 3 dishes, all of which involve over boiled vegetables and poorly seasoned mains. She does bake cakes, cookies & biscuits - usually burning them in the process though. Every oven my mother has ever used burns things - she claims the thermostats are broken but doesn't see the correlation between turning the oven down and leaving things in there for less time resulting in non burned food. When we were at hers over the summer I bought a selection of frozen pizzas to feed us all - they all needed slightly different cooking times and temperature but nothing overly complicated - she managed to fuck all 3 of them up, burning 2 and serving one at a temperature just above absolute zero.

But this year she's had a brand new kitchen fitted and decided she wants another family get together - and to show off. If there's one thing she does better than fucking around is showing off. But her showing off is not what you might imagine - it usually entails her telling the most inane stories of doing something not even remotely interesting - a recent one being spending a good hour telling me about everything she saw at the park when she came to visit me, as if I've never taken the kids there and actually don't know where it is, despite it being at the end of my road.

Usually when I take the cost centres up to see her we book a place to stay - I did this over the summer which was Mrs AC's first trip up, in order that we get some peace but we're only going up for 5 days, hiring a car and staying with her. My brother plus wife and their 2 grown up kids plus girlfriends are coming along so there will be 11 of us at Christmas - my brother has actually had the sense to rent somewhere as they will be staying a bit longer plus that many of us in the same house doesn't really work.

I've already mentioned in previous posts that she lives in the middle of nowhere and there's no pub within walking distance so along the way from the airport we'll be picking up enough booze in order to make a family get together tolerable - and I'm definitely not underestimating how much we're going to need. Mrs AC is getting an early Christmas present of a pair of walking boots so that we can go haggis hunting again (and it gives us an excuse to get out of the house before I want to murder everyone) and I've made one more important rider as a condition of us coming - I'm doing the cooking.

As useless as I am at all forms of manual labour (any household task more complicated than changing a lightbulb usually results in a load of swearing and blood pouring from various self inflicted wounds) I'm actually quite decent in the kitchen - it will ensure that everyone gets fed at the prescribed time plus it prevents everything from getting burned or the vegetables from being boiled to within an inch of their lives. As an added bonus the booze will be in the kitchen and I'll be closest to the fridge!

Anyway - merry Christmas to all my readers. I'm in NY for 2 days this week then we fly back to the U.K. until the new year when I'll be in NY for a week then I'll be in LA and Vegas for some of January and potentially some of February as well. I'm still writing up stories from my last elongated Vegas trip so maybe I need something to keep me away from the poker tables. Did someone say drinking challenge? Bueller? Anyone? Ace suggested a sobriety challenge but that's no fun so I've come up with a new challenge for myself - which I'll post shortly.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Lies, damned lies and statistics

If you were to ask a layman at a poker table what most developed countries' central banks' policies were over the last decade or so they might look at you a bit weirdly. Who in their right mind wants to discuss that at a poker table or even at a poker and drinking blog?

Well I do, because firstly I'm actually a bit of a nerd when I'm away from my first love of drunken idiocy and secondly it's actually my job. No, not going round poker tables asking weird questions but my job entails attempting to understand economic policy. It's what I call a "grown up" job despite my true mental age being in the teens - Mrs AC says I'm like Jekyll & Hyde with my dull work persona struggling to contain my inner child (hence the anonymity behind this blog - if the majority of my clients knew they were employing an overgrown child I might find myself with a bit too much free time on my hands). But economics is not an exact science and there's a lot of guesswork involved so I like to summarise my job as being like a monkey throwing darts at a dartboard - every so often the monkey will post a good score but that doesn't mean it's a good darts player.

But anyway - most western central banks have had their hands tied recently, treading a fine line between encouraging growth but also financial stability. Until the last financial crash most central bank policy revolved around interest rates - raising to prevent an economy overheating (or a more controversial line of supporting a currency) or decreasing them to promote lending and growth (or an attempt to support one's own empire which is very susceptible to high interest rates or a strong currency - cough, orange buffoon, cough).

But in these historic times of virtually zero (or in some cases negative) interest rates central banks have implemented a policy called Quantitative Easing. This entails buying assets (usually government bonds) which pushes up their price and inversely decreases their yield. The main thinking is that the holder of that asset now has cash with which to lend or invest - thus stimulating the economy.

That's the theory anyway - in practice it works differently but to the layman this is generally reported as "printing money" (which it isn't - take the situations seen in Zimbabwe and Venezuela for instance where the central bank does literally print more money to cover government spending which drives down currency value and increases inflation virtually exponentially).

But anyway - if you're still with me in the hope of me actually getting to the point I'm going to explain what I'd do if I were in charge of central bank policy. It's pretty easy - just make everyone poker players.

I've had numerous sessions over the last few months and I'm always open to chatting to my table mates, more so once I've had a beer or two. Once I've been chatting to another player for any length of time I nearly always ask them one particular question - do you make money playing? Now I don't open a conversation with this - there is some conversational foreplay involved!

Do you know what - literally no one has ever said no. Every single player I've asked this question has said they are profitable. That's a 100% success rate with a standard deviation of 0 - any mathematician will tell you that based on the statistics 100% of all poker players make money from the game.

Maybe poker is the financial equivalent of a perpetual motion machine? The latter is a hypothetical device that can do work without an energy source - it breaks the laws of thermodynamics and is therefore impossible but surely poker is different? It's not hypothetical as we've all witnessed it and there's no way it's breaking mathematical laws. Maybe it really is some sort of financial alchemy and is actually a licence to print money - which comes back to my new central bank policy of getting everyone to play poker as given the statistics it's a guaranteed wealth generator (albeit with inflationary effects which I won't bore you with here).

So to stimulate the economy we just need more poker - it's statistically guaranteed to work. Either that or it's the same old story of lies, damned lies and statistics.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The easiest Christmas present ever

One of my biggest failings it’s that I’m really bad at buying presents for people - not that I don’t buy them but just that I have literally no imagination. If someone tells me they want “x” for Christmas then they’ll get exactly that. If only things were that simple all the time. I hate shopping as well - I don’t “browse”, I know what I want when I go into a store and I will buy exactly what I’ve gone in for. 

So Christmas is usually hell on earth for me - I have to come up with a list of people to buy for and actually use some of my grey matter to come up with thoughtful presents. Bollocks - I’m trying to slowly kill my brain with beer intake. Then I actually have to go shopping, which means other people generally getting in my way whilst I’m trying to get in and get out without going insane. 

But I’ve just been asked for a specific present that saves me some time and effort. It’s by my mother - and the reasonings behind this present are more insane than you could possibly imagine. Now if you’re a regular reader you might have read my entries featuring my mother, they usually involve her being as mad as a box of frogs and doing randomly batshit insane things that can’t be explained by science or logic. 

My mother constantly complains that I’m always getting on a flight when she calls me - sometimes this is true but other times I use this as an excuse to get her off the phone. She’ll often call up, witter at me for over an hour whilst only pausing to draw breath every couple of minutes so by the time she ever gets round to saying anything remotely interesting I’ll have fallen asleep or just stopped listening. But bizarrely she was pretty succinct the other day as she told me what she wants for Christmas - it’s a new cat flap for her house. Fine - easy as pie but why in fuck’s name do you want a new one? Actually don’t tell me now - text me because I’m just getting on a flight (I was - honestly! It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was trying to multitask at the airport - by multitask I mean finish lunch, watch football and polish off a couple of drinks ahead of a flight back to NY with Mrs AC). Her response was I don’t need to text you - I’ll tell you when I’m coming down next week and I can tell you in person. Brilliant. Not only is she coming down uninvited (as much as I complain about it she comes down to see the cost centres and it helps me out, especially if I’m not home on Fridays to pick them up) but she’s going to have a batshit insane story to tell me. I honestly can’t wait to come back now.

Like most people of a certain age she’s obsessed with the past - everything was better then (despite my favourite game when I see her of getting her to name anything, she’s yet to name a single thing), people had more respect and you could leave your doors unlocked with no repercussions. When were these halcyon days? Never - that’s when. But anyway - back to the point of leaving her doors unlocked. She’s fanatically obsessed with safety and security - she’s got it into her head that the streets are populated with marauding gangs of thieves that are just waiting for her to leave the house before going in to rob the place. Firstly - there aren’t these supposed gangs, especially where she lives which is a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. The nearest they get to a crime is when one of the neighbours put the wrong recycling bins out one week - they honestly talk about it years later as if it were the crime of the century. Secondly - because she lives in a village that has literally nothing in it (and I mean nothing - no shop and no pub) the people have nothing better to do than spy on their neighbours (who are doing the same because they’ve got nothing better to do as well) so any potential crime is spotted by the entire village who are all effectively spying on each other - when she first moved there and I first went to visit I was stopped by a police car whilst driving her car as it had been reported by a nosy neighbour that a strange man had been seen driving my mother’s car. Thirdly - what sort of treasures does the average pensioner have in their nondescript house anyway? The last time I checked no one is particularly interested in stealing 4,000 plastic tubs, none of which has a matching lid, or the world’s largest collection of frilly cushion covers. No self respecting burglar would even waste their time on the place - doubly so given she’s got a very noisy dog that would scare anyone daft enough to break into the place off. 

But none of this common sense matters when it comes to my mother and her home security - she’s fanatical about it which is why she needs a new cat flap. Now in a lot of houses you can lock yourself out if the door closes behind you and you haven’t picked up your keys. But not in my mother’s house - you need keys to lock all the external doors so she didn’t get locked out that way. She’d locked all the doors from the inside then used the garage to exit the house - the garage has an electric door that is operated by a remote control so when leaving the door shuts and the house is secure, too secure in fact. Because when the power is cut the electric door doesn’t work and you have to use the main front or back doors. That’s on the assumption that you’re not mad as batshit and have your keys with you. 

So my mother arrived home one day recently and the power was off and she didn’t have any other way of getting into the house - which is why she needs a new catflap. But wait - is your mother the size of a character from the Borrowers or is her cat the size of a small horse, necessitating a catflap that she was able to crawl through I hear you ask? Nope - my mother is normal old lady sized and her cat is a normal sized cat. But this didn’t stop her from dismantling and then breaking her catflap trying to reach the key in the back door so she could let herself in. But now this gets even more insane - the catflap is about 6 feet from the back door so how in fuck’s name did she think that she was going to be able to reach it? I have no idea. She claims she’s been able to do this before but when? I know age causes people to shrink but I never remember her being 13 feet tall when I was a child. Maybe she thought she had some sort of previously hidden Inspector Gadget style go-go gadget arms or a Mr Tickle ability to elongate her arms at will? I have literally no idea what has gone through her head - I’m not even going to ask as it’s going to be the most insane conversation I’ve ever had with her (and I’ve had a few). Why she didn’t just wait 10 minutes for the power to come back on or even just pop round to her neighbours who have a spare key as they look after her cat and dog when she’s away I have no idea - there’s really no point in me asking this though as I’m sure it will involve something even crazier. 

But at least it’s a tick on my Christmas shopping list - if only they were all this easy. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A tale of two Britneys

I really don't like being called "Sir". It's often followed by "you've had far too much to drink, please leave". But in most customer service situations there's no other option for a service provider to address a customer. If I walk into a bar (quite a regular occurrence I know) but I'm not a regular what else is the bar tender going to call me?

But on airlines it's different. There's a list of passengers provided to flight attendants before each flight and I can work out within a couple of minutes whether I'm going to get decent service - it's whether they call me Sir or by my name. If an FA calls me Mr C or even A (yes my initials are AC) within 2 interactions I know I'm going to get good service - I'm not actually fussy though, in America there's not a lot of formality involved so it's quite common for my first name to be used but on European airlines (especially British Airways which I predominantly use) I'm generally used to Mr C. It basically shows that someone has prepared ahead and is going the extra mile for their customer - they've taken the time to look at the manifest and remember passengers' names so they can provide a more personalised service. I like it - I probably take more than 100 flights a year so it's actually quite a large part of my life. I also take time to remember an FA's name so I can personally address him or her so there is a little 2 way interaction involved as well. I'd prefer to say "thank you Sheila" rather than just a platitude such as "love", "sweetie" or "dear".

So anyway - on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I got into a weird situation. I'd just boarded a BA flight to NY and the FA looks at my boarding pass and says "Hello Mr C - welcome aboard. My colleague Britney will take you to your seat" this is standard practice on BA as we were travelling in the pointy end (as I like to call the seats that don't involve me spending 7 hours sitting with my knees tucked round my ears). And I say we because I was travelling with Mrs AC who had boarded immediately ahead of me and had been escorted to her seat by another FA.

The FA hands me my phone back (it's the 21st century - paper boarding cards are the past) and says to her colleague "This is Mr C - he's in seat 2K"

"Hello A" her colleague says. This is odd now - I'm so rarely called A on BA flights. "Long time no see, I saw your name on the manifest and thought it might be you".

I had a thing with Britney - it was a few years ago and I met her on another flight (coincidentally to Las Vegas) and she was my FA. We've not seen each other for a couple of years but we parted amicably (BA probably has thousands of FAs and I don't recall seeing the same crew twice but that may be down to the amount of booze I normally consume on long haul flights). Britney is a fun girl and loves her job - which in my case involves plying me with booze - funny that I liked her immediately when we first met.

You might be thinking that this is awkward - I'm with Mrs AC and I've got a former flame serving us both drinks for the next 7 hours. To me it's not - firstly Mrs AC is not the jealous type (I've got more to worry about given that I'm 12 years older and have a lot more wear and tear on me than her), secondly we actually tell each other everything (that the other one actually asks anyway) - I'm too daft to remember back stories so I've always worked on the basis that honesty is the best policy and thirdly we only had a bit of a thing (rather than a full blown relationship) and we parted on decent terms. If it had involved the original ex Mrs AC (my cost centres' mother) then I would have feigned a heart attack to get me off the plane, actually plummeting in flames to a certain death would have been better than spending 7 hours enclosed in a metal tube with her, even if booze was included. But I know that I've got no bad blood with Britney and it's going to be a good flight.

She brings me a glass of champagne (BA serves very good champagne) and tells me to press the call button whenever I want anything (I've never actually used this - in 6 years of flying 250,000 miles a year I still can't bring myself to do it. It's just not British to do it). I tell her that the lady in the seat behind me is with me and to look after her as well - she promises that she will.

We've already had a late lunch in the lounge along with a few glasses of champagne (I'm actually not a big fan of the stuff as cheap champagne is just a waste of money whereas what BA serve in their lounge and onboard is very good and retails for $140 a bottle) and I've just watched my football team play out a 2-2 draw with Arsenal so all I want to do now is drink. The flight time is a bit weird being that it's a late afternoon departure and arriving in NY in the early evening - in order to alleviate jet lag I'm trying to not sleep at all so that when we land we can head straight into the city then head to bed at a normal time having had a longer than usual day due to the 5 hour time difference.

So I do something I'd never normally do - I bought a wifi pass for the flight. Now I'd usually just download any material I need to work on prior to the flight or just watch a couple of movies but today I want to watch the 49ers play. It's been a rarity over the last 20 or so years that they've actually been any good so watching a decent 49ers in a potential superbowl match up against the Ravens was guaranteed to keep me awake for the flight. So to kill a few hours I watched the game and cheered along with every play (Mrs AC actually admonished me when I cheered too loudly when Mostart scored in Q2). But all the while I'd been watching, Britney had been plying me with champagne. And every time she's come down to refill my glass we'd had a chat and a giggle so the couple of hours passed in no time at all.

After the game I had something to eat (I sat with Mrs AC for this so we actually spent some time together) and a couple of glasses of wine and in no time at all we're in NY - there's no queue at CBP and Mrs AC has finally come round to my travelling routine of hand baggage only (this actually means she's started leaving more stuff at mine so maybe I should be more worried about that?) so we're in a cab back to Manhattan around 8pm (I don't usually stay with her but her room mate is away this week).

It's during the cab back to her place that she asks about Britney - she'd noticed that she'd not called me Mr C but rather used my first name and that she'd only ever been called Miss X. I said it's because we used to know each other and it would have been awkward for both of us to be called Mr C.

"Aaah. Britney - you've told me about her. I thought she worked in Vegas though" Mrs AC tells me. "Did I? If it's someone called Britney from Vegas it's someone who worked in a casino" I reply. I've told her about a different Britney (who did work in a Vegas casino and was even more intent on plying me with booze than our aforementioned Britney). So I tell her about our short lived friendship and that it actually coincided with Vegas Britney - I was actually seeing two girls at the same time and they both happened to be called Britney.

"You never told me about the tale of two Britneys" replies Mrs AC "I never thought you had it in you". Now I don't have Mrs AC down as a fan of Dickens so I'm sure it was accidental - if so she won't understand any of my puns about our Christmas Carol plans that she'll play blackjack and Twist next time we're in Vegas together. Either that or she's got great expectations of our next year together. Either way I'm too tired, too jet lagged (I've been across 13 time zones in the last 4 days) and too drunk to respond. And I don't want to have to rely on telling her about our mutual friend to amuse her. So by the time we arrive back at her place all I want to do is sleep - no more drunken shenanigans planned as I'm working all week although we had hockey tickets for Monday and Friday nights then I'm back to the U.K. on Saturday for the rest of the year.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Leaving Las Vegas

It feels like I've been here for an eternity, but it's only been just over 3 weeks. But 3 weeks in a hotel is close enough to an eternity. It feels like I've drunk my body weight in beer, but it's only been... oh hang on.

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I headed to NY, spending Wednesday with a client there and picking up Mrs AC (who I haven't seen since Halloween) before the both of us flew back to London for the long Thanksgiving weekend. We both flew back to NY on the Sunday (story on that to come as we had a very good flight) and I'm going to be there for a week before heading back home and my travelling will be done for the rest of the year. Mrs AC is flying to the U.K. for Christmas and depending on other factors I may fly back with her after the new year.

My final tally on my attempt to drink my own weight's worth of beer was the equivalent of 240.5 bottles - that's 84kg or 185 pounds against my pre challenge weight of 182 pounds (I usually weigh 13 stone give or take a few pounds). That's even more impressive considering I actually had 9 completely sober days since my challenge began on November 4. I don't think I'd have managed this at my regular pace without having people in town for the last weekend - I managed a quite frankly scary 86 bottles equivalent over a 4 day period which equates to over 1/3 of my monthly intake. Ace had postulated that I'd be raiding the bar carts on the way home to bump my numbers which I could well have done if needed but my nerd like tendencies came to the fore by tracking this all on a spreadsheet so I knew I didn't need to go nuts on the flight home (probably a good thing as I really didn't want to explain to Mrs AC why I was turbo necking drinks rather than sleeping on the short overnight flight).

Post challenge my weight had ballooned by 3 pounds but I'm attributing the gain to not walking my usual amount since I've been in LA for much of the time - in London and NY I generally walk around a lot but I find I'm either stuck in one place or using cabs all the time when I'm working in LA.

In honour of my achievement stupidity Mexico has announced that because I've drunk enough Coronas it's awarding me the Order of the Aztec Eagle (their highest civilian award) and that they are going to send His Orangeness a contribution to get his wall started - maybe it's my empty bottles as they probably reach a decent height if stacked on top of each other. No - I'm not even going to think about working out what that is before anyone asks and I certainly don't want to be searchable using the term "8 inches of Mexico's finest".

Thanks for reading and commenting over the last few weeks - having something to write up has kept me almost sane over the last few weeks. I've still got a couple of interesting stories to write up and I'll publish these shortly. I hope I've kept you entertained with my drunken exploits and maybe even inspired you to complete your own drinking challenge (but seriously don't, it's not big and it's not clever, albeit it was fun).

I'll likely be back in LA / Vegas some time in February or March next year - my liver might have recovered by then.

And if anyone knows a way of getting Super Bowl tickets please let me know - prior to Sunday's game Mrs AC was more worried than Jeffrey Dahmer's pizza delivery boy as if the 49ers kept their form up it looked like she might owe me a trip to Miami at the start of February. But now I can't see it happening although I'm certainly not showing any lack of confidence in front of Mrs AC!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Oh how the other half live

Fuck knows how much I drank on Thursday but it was a lot - I can usually tell how many beers I had over a poker session by counting how much is left in my tip pocket but given most of my drinks were free pour I've estimated it a bit. But I'm erring on the conservative side and it still came out to the equivalent of 27 bottles of beer once I'd plugged the numbers into my spreadsheet (yes - I am such a nerd that I'm tracking it on a spreadsheet!). It was mostly wine, champagne & spirits though - the only time I had a couple of beers was after dinner on the casino floor. But that's still a shit load of booze - my heaviest day yet.

I'm not doing that again soon. Oh wait - we are as it's now late Saturday morning and we've arranged to meet for an early afternoon cocktail. And by cocktail I mean the plural variety. Oh joy. It's a good job I had a quiet (by comparison) Friday to recover.

I can't cope with walking so I take a cab back to the Wynn and I'm escorted to their suite by a butler. This suite is bigger than my house - there's a fucking elevator inside the suite to take you between levels if you're too drunk to use the stairs. Oh how the other half live.

The butler makes a Bloody Mary for me and there's also champagne on ice alongside a buffet. I'm also offered a "Colombian livener" to which I politely decline.

We chat about Thursday night's exploits - they left the strip club about 6am so I'm called a lightweight for leaving early and missing the fun on Friday. Normally I'd be offended by this moniker but amongst such esteemed drinking company I know my place. They had also arranged "dates" on Friday evening so I'm doubly glad I told them I was busy.

We drink and chat for an hour or so and there's a pool table to keep us amused - $100 a frame games of pool are more than fun when you spent as much time in pool and snooker halls as I did when I was a student 😄.

So by the time we head out we've already had a decent amount of booze - it's not even pushing 4pm yet so there's some more drinking to be done. But even then we're not off to dinner just yet - we're slumming it at the hockey as our host is a big fan (we've been to Rangers games together before). Well by slumming it I mean decent centre ice seats about 20 yards from the bar.

So down the strip we head for a few pre game beers in the pub at NYNY. Oh beer - how I've missed thee. I feel like I've been cheating on you with fancy red wine and champagne. Fuck. Did I really write that down rather than just thinking it?

After a few beers we headed into the hockey - via the bar of course and we continued to drink throughout the game. One thing I love about American sports is being able to drink at your seat - it's actually illegal in England to do this at football as for years there was a big hooligan problem and adding booze to the problem was never going to end well.

The game was a side event to a 2 hour drinking session and as we leave the arena our host enquires whether we want to eat before our next adventure - a resounding fuck yeah means we wander up to the Bellagio for a late dinner at Prime. Plus booze, truck loads more booze. Champagne to start plus more lovely red wine whilst devouring decent sized steaks.

After dinner we wander down the Strip before heading over to Hakkasan at the MGM just after midnight. No waiting in line for us as our host has booked a table, complete with the obligatory ton of booze and girls wearing next to nothing offering to help us drink it. What is it about a champagne cork popping being able to have girls buzzing round you like bees round a honeypot? In some version of the multiverse there must be an equivalent of Pavlov's dog using a champagne cork as the stimulus and scantily clad ladies as the test subjects.

We say our goodbyes as we get kicked out (not literally) just after 4am and I'm lucky it's only a short drunken stumble back over to the Signature, which by comparison to their suite now seems a bit poky.

So another stupidly drunken weekend in Vegas is at an end - at the time I still wasn't 100% sure what my plans are for the rest of the week. I'm either heading home on Wednesday via NY (picking up Mrs AC along the way) or she's coming here for Thanksgiving and I'm spending another week or so here. Please let me go home though - after this weekend I think I'm broken!