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!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Pray for mojo

When I'm the sensible one at the table I know it's going to be messy night.

So my client is in town and I meet him at dinner on Thursday (the week before Thanksgiving) night at the SW steakhouse at the Wynn. I'm stone cold sober, having not drunk anything since Sunday evening. My client is not sober, nor are his other guests - 2 other guys, 1 of whom I've met a couple of times before. He tells me they've been on the booze (and from their appearance presumably more illegal substances) since they left NY at lunchtime. From the looks of them it looks like it was a long flight.

There's champagne on the table so I'm encouraged to catch up to their states of drunkenness. I don't need asking twice. Shots are ordered with the appetisers and there's some very nice wine ordered too. Fuck knows how this lot are actually capable of tasting it but I'm not letting it go to waste.

Dinner is finished and we've probably got through a bottle of wine apiece, 2 bottles of champagne between us plus a couple of shots each and some whisky to finish. This dinner has probably cost more than my entire month's stay but he* signs it off with the same nonchalance that I'd tip a cocktail waitress a buck for bringing me a beer.

"The night is still young my friends" he announces as we leave the restaurant. Fuck. I was hoping he wouldn't say this - this is a precursor to him really getting started. To him, we've only just begun. But he's right - it's only 10pm and I'm certainly not capable of calling it a night this early.

We hit the tables and spend an hour or so getting more drunk there before he decides he wants to see some boobs! Now I've never been to see strippers in Vegas before - no one ever believes this but it's true. So I actually have no idea where a strip club might be - that's not a problem though as he's a regular at one particular place and has already called them to arrange transportation for the short ride there.

There's bottles of champagne and tequila on the table shortly after we arrive and he's in his element while admiring the ladies who are keen to attract his attention - who says that money isn't an aphrodisiac?

We spend a few hours in there before I head off at about 3.30am - even I can only take so much and as I leave he tells me to call him so we can make more plans for the weekend. Fuck. I'm not getting off easily.

I head off in a cab and pass out back at the Signature around 4am and I'm rudely awakened at 7am by my phone ringing. It's Mrs AC and I'd usually be up by this time. She knows I was out last night and knows exactly about the guy I was out with - he's effectively her boss (or about 3 levels up I think) so it's totally deliberate that she's calling me so early knowing how much pain I'll be in.

I'm not capable of telling her much other than

She calls me an idiot and says she'll call back later when I've had a chance to wake up.

Which is where I'll leave it for now - it's only Friday morning and the weekend has barely started!

* I'm going to clarify this - normally in a business entertaining situation the client is on the receiving end of any hospitality and the service provider (ie me) would take the client out. In this case the person that I'm referring to is our host - he has invited us to join him therefore he will (I assume personally) cover the bill. He is very "old school" and assumes that the host should cover the bill. Between us we have a more friendly relationship than client & service provider and, to coin a relevant phrase, he doesn't expect a quid pro quo, albeit when I invite him out in NY I would play the host (but there's no way my evening hosting him would cost 4 figures).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

4 bucks in his pocket and he’s still got more money than sense

In my previous entry I'd lamented the lack of crazy play at PH - until this trip I'd never had a boring session there but I've had 3 in a row now. All the crazies have gone. And now I know where to.

It's after 11 when I sit down back at the MGM and there's already a lot of table talk. "What the fuck?" "What sort of idiot jams with that?" are the sorts of comments coming from my table mates' mouths. It turns out one of the previous hands had involved a 3 way AIPF - aces v kings v 8-6 off!! Dear god this is going to be fun. More so considering the 8-6 had won and the crasian still stacking his luckboxed chips has close to $3k in front of him, and obviously chip magnets at the bottom of his stack as my neighbour tells me he's been on a heater for the last hour or so although he's probably on his 4th or 5th buy in.

It seemed no 2 cards were bad enough for this guy not to raise preflop. He'd take a 3 bet as a personal insult and would put players' mettle to the test. Do you really want to get a buy in on the table with a medium pocket pair, suited connectors or a middling ace? Oh hell yes. If his range is any 2 cards then if I've got a hand that beats what is effectively a blind shove I'll take my ticket and get in line. But there's also 7 other players thinking the same thing.

After a couple of orbits I'm down a buy in when my pocket 10s get outdrawn by A-6off and our crasian has seen his stack dwindle to about $1,500 as virtually every second hand he's up or down $300 as everyone at the table looks to get a double up from him. Why the fuck do these idiots actually play poker? He could have 4 bucks in his pocket and still have more money than sense I comment to my neighbour. But is this actually fun to him? Just jamming and hoping? Anyway I'm not going to mope about it so once I rebuy I just sit and wait. And drink - that was obvious wasn't it?

Our crasian has lost his luckboxed chips and dusted off another 3 or 4 buyins that I saw whilst I was sat down - my neighbour thinks he lost close to $3k over a few hours. I can sort of get the adrenaline rush when it comes to gambling but why not leave with a profit? Or is the thrill in the chase rather than the catch? What goes on in the heads of these nutters is beyond me.

There's literally no real poker to report - just as there is no point trying to argue with idiots you also can't outplay them as their thought process is non existent. The good news is I cashed out for $1,250, the bad news is I was in the game for 4 $300 buy ins so an eventful albeit ultimately barely profitable 4 hours saw me head off at 3am.

Another 6 beers logged - running total 125.5 (44kg / 97 pounds)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Warming up for the main event

Vegas must be home to some of the shittest drug dealers on the planet. Are they really just standing there offering up their wares to every passerby? If they are then how the fuck are they not all in jail? I was offered drugs, again more than once and again before midday.

On Saturday I decided to play at the Orleans (thanks to those who advised me on Twitter) - I've never played there before but I fancied a change of venue so at 9.30 I headed out, through the MGM and across the Strip for the 2 or so mile walk down Tropicana to the Orleans. As it's so early there aren't many people about so I'm making a decent pace rather than having to swerve round tourists gazing inanely at stuff as if they've never seen any fancy lights before.

Before I've even walked 1/2 way there I'm offered drugs twice - do I really look like I want to buy drugs at 9.30am? I'm also walking at a decent pace (my friends call me the snow plough as I walk quickly and all they have to do is walk directly behind me and I've generally cleared a path through any crowd).

I could sort of understand their rationale of offering me drugs if I look dishevelled but I'm clean shaven and have fresh clothes on. They really must just hope that by offering to everyone they'll eventually make a sale. Or get arrested. Or is this a ruse to get people to stop then 3 burly guys (or I suppose as we're in the land of the free, 1 scrawny guy exercising his 2nd Amendment rights) jump out and mug the mark? Either way I barely break stride anymore when anyone off Strip approaches me.

Having stopped for coffee and breakfast along the way I arrive at the Orleans at 10.30ish - very nice poker room and I'm surprised how big it is. A beer is scooped during the first orbit and I settle down for a few hours of poker. Shit cards and missed draws meant I only lasted a couple of hours but I've been topping up my beer levels which has kept me interested. So about 2pm I head back over to the Strip, in a cab this time as I can't be bothered to walk. The day is still young but I'm not sure how much poker I want to play. Maybe a few beers can make my mind up so I head to the Linq which has a decent bar serving a multitude of weird and wonderful beers.

I sat there for an hour or so and watched some of the college football which I rarely do - although I'm a fan of the NFL I find the American fascination with college sports a bit weird. I can understand supporting a team that's local to you or where you studied but supporting a team from halfway across the country is just odd. But that might be just me being British as there's not really a culture of college sports in the U.K. - the only famous one being the university boat race but the same two teams make the final every year.

So anyway - after a few beers I decided I did, in fact, want to play some more poker. So off down the Strip to PH I went to enter their 4pm tournament which I'd cashed in last Friday.

No such luck today and I'm out inside an hour so I sit down for another unremarkable cash game. Have they started putting downers in the free drinks or something? Where have all the crazies gone? This is the 3rd time I've had a less than exciting time here in the last 2 weeks but at least the waitress service is good and it's 8pm before I realise that I haven't eaten since before arriving at the Orleans this morning.

Back to the MGM I head for something to eat at Emeril's fish restaurant - very decent food and a couple of glasses of a very nice Chardonnay set me up well for another session of poker, but little was I to know that the whole day had just been a warm up for the main event. And this time the craziest of all the crazies was at the MGM rather than at PH - which I'll tell you about in my next entry.

Total beers consumed (pre poker session) - 12 bottles

Running total - 119.5 bottles (41.8kg / 92 pounds). I'm over 50% of the way to my target!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Episode IV - A new hope for an old favourite

You can't win sobriety, if you strike me down I'll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

After my sober Sunday I wasn't intending to play poker (and therefore not drink as well) until the weekend but I'd completely forgotten that Monday is a holiday here, which explains why I'm not getting any calls or e-mails and I've finished what I needed to do in half the time than I expected. So at 1pm I head out for a wander up the strip with my only plan being to watch the 49ers on MNF. 

I ended up at Caesars (the pedant in me wants an apostrophe there) for a pretty swingy session. In the first orbit I'm up a buy in with Aces AIPF against a player who claimed to hold Queens but didn't show but then lost most of it back an hour or so later with pocket 7s, flopping a set but getting outdrawn to the nut flush. At least I've got a few beers in me to cheer me up and just before 5pm I head back down to the MGM for some food, more beers and to watch the game.

Not a good result but it was a great game - at the start of the season Mrs AC and I jokingly promised to take each other to the Super Bowl if either of our teams got there and she has started to get a little nervous so losing to our main divisional rivals is not a good omen. Given that Mrs AC is a Giants fan any risk of me paying for the trip was over months ago 🤣. Not a huge beer intake but I'm definitely on track to smash my challenge (over the course of a month, even I'm not stupid enough to attempt to drink my own body weight over a weekend).

Tuesday through Thursday were spent working and therefore not drinking so by the time Friday comes I'm in the mood for a few drinks. Again I'm on the early evening flight from LAX so make use of the bar in the Flagship lounge to hydrate myself. Usual G&T on board and for once I fancy eating before heading out to play poker - but I want something different rather than my usual burger, steak or pizza dinners that become my routine when travelling.

I really fancy a curry, it's been absolutely ages since I had one and I'm a big fan of spicy food but I had no idea of anywhere decent in Vegas. So tripadvisor came to the rescue and their top rated place is Mint Bistro on East Flamingo which by coincidence is not too far from the Signature. So once I've changed my clothes I jump in a cab for the short ride there.

I'm not a fanboy who gushes over places and wants to instagram every detail but this place was great. Very small place and therefore packed but worth the wait - fantastic food and an even better bar list. They even had a beer in my top 5 which I've only ever had at a couple of bars in Europe.

I'm definitely coming back - I might even be tempted by their inferno menu challenge where if you finish a ridiculously hot dish you get a place on their wall of fame.

So by the time I'd finished my curry it was getting late and I headed back to the MGM for more beers and a 3am finish ready for another weekend of fun.

The only noteworthy hand was literally the first hand I was dealt which sees me holding Ad-8d in the big blind. There's a raise from MP and a call from the button so I call to complete the action.

The flop is a marvellous A-A-8. Boom. I check, hoping the preflop raiser will bet but it's to my disappointment that he doesn't and the button checks behind. Bearing in mind that I have literally no history with anyone at the table it's pretty hard to put either player on any sort of range but the look on the preflop raiser's face of complete disgust at seeing 2 aces on the flop is replaced by one of utter joy when he sees the turn card which comes a King. He's definitely not got an ace here - quite possibly pocket kings. I'm guessing the button doesn't have A-K here as he probably would have bet on the flop. I check and the preflop raiser bets $25, which is flat called before getting to me. I think for a bit before raising to $75 and the initial raiser reraises to $200. The button then calls. I've only just bought in for $300 so I may as well get it all in which is called by both other players who have another couple of hundred behind. The MP and button get it all in on a blank river card.

I turn over my hand and the MP player tables KK, the button mucks (he later says he had an ace) and I scoop a treble up on the first hand. Literally nothing of any interest after that hand and I bag a very decent $750 profit over the course of my 4 hour session.

Weekly booze challenge numbers:

Sunday - zero
Monday - 12 bottles
Tuesday to Thursday - zero
Friday - 16 bottles

Running total - 107.5 bottles (37.6kg / 82.9 pounds)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Dear god no. I've just had some news, upon hearing this my liver has tended its resignation and told me I'm on my own.

I'm getting a visitor in Vegas this coming weekend (the one before Thanksgiving). It's a very senior guy at a client of mine (the only reason I mention his rank is because I'm sort of obligated to make an effort when it comes to socialising with clients as he will, in some part, influence any future business I do with his firm) and he makes me look like a Boy Scout when it comes to drinking. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing, he's usually straight-laced and very professional - until he's out of the office environment and he's let out to party.

He thinks the wolf of Wall Street was a documentary - and that it missed out most of the debauchery that happened back in the day. He's a complete animal when he's off the leash - I've been out with him socially before and it wasn't pretty. And now I've potentially got a good part of a weekend with him.

He's also a fan of partying with ladies who charge by the hour and of ingesting Colombia's finest export - neither of which are my cups of tea but at least I can point him in the direction of some dealers given my interactions over the last couple of weekends.

I think the only thing that's going to save me is that he's not going to slum it in the Signature - I assume he'll be in a fancy suite somewhere. Hopefully he'll party so hard he'll end up on the roof of Caesers for the weekend, if he does maybe we should make a movie out of it?

If I suddenly go quiet you'll know that I've been broken but I'll try to remember at least some of the details for my usual episode of drunken idiocy.

I've still got a few days' worth of exploits to write up so some entries may be out of chronological order - you won't be as confused as me after I've spent a few evenings with my visitor though.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Episode 3 - Fun without alcohol is a lie

Dear god poker is boring. Thanks Ace - you've ruined it for me 😄. I was more than happy in my blissful ignorance about my excessive alcohol consumption. (I actually get a very detailed medical done every year and I've never had the doctor raise even the smallest of concerns so hopefully I'll continue my 100% success rate at being immortal).

I got the idea of totalling up my beer consumption and posting a running total throughout my month in Vegas and I started to worry myself - my propensity to drink is unnerving so I thought I'd take a few days off the booze to let my body recover since I'd been on the sauce from Thursday evening through Saturday.

So after overdoing the booze on Thursday, Friday & Saturday last weekend I decided to not drink for the next few days. I'd normally do this at home without a second thought but I usually don't do it when I'm travelling.

Not even a solitary beer - I have literally no self control so none is actually easier than just being sensible and only having 1 or 2 beers.

On Sunday I decided to play poker again - sober. I don't think I've played poker stone cold sober in Vegas ever before - those free beers have always lured me with their Sirens' song. Dear god it was dull, my table mates were as interesting as dishwater and their jokes were as funny as a sharp pain in the chest and left arm area. I need beer, but for once I'm going to resist its allure.

I just about managed a 3 hour session on Sunday afternoon but it was painful. It just wasn't fun. The waitress actually asked me if I was ill when I ordered a soft drink rather than a beer.

I'm not doing that again, whilst I'll be working (and therefore not playing poker) all week I'm more than capable of not having a beer but you can bet your last dollar that the next time I'm at the poker table it will be with a bottle of beer in my hand and a smile on my face because poker fun without alcohol is just a lie.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Episode 2 - Your drinking powers are weak old man

So here I am nearly a week into a month's stay in Vegas. It's been interesting. I detailed the first day in my previous entry and the next couple of days were spent working so nothing really to report apart from hoping a particular passenger on flight AA1237 on Wednesday morning is tasered painfully. I don't have much patience at the best of times, especially on a 7.45am flight, but surely a sensible thing to do if you're having a coughing fit is to stop shovelling cheetos into your face for long enough to actually clear your airways rather than spread yellow dust throughout the cabin like in some sort of outbreak movie. This went on for a good 75 minutes from the time she boarded in LAS until we deplaned at LAX - how she got that many bags of cheetos in her luggage was one thing but who the fuck eats about 2 pounds of these things for breakfast?

So anyway - Thursday evening and I'm like a kid whose school is out for summer. I resist the urge to put my tie round my head and set fire to my briefcase whilst I head to LAX to catch a 5.30pm flight back to LAS. As soon as I'm done with security I hit the Flagship lounge's bar to get my alcohol levels up and ready for Vegas mode. Having turbo-necked 3 or 4 drinks I head onto the plane and sink 2 G&Ts before arriving and catching a cab back to the Signature. Quick change of clothes and I'm off to Planet Hollywood by 7.30pm for a bite to eat at Yolos and some cash game action.

Now I don't know what it is about PH but every time I've ever played there the cash game is mental - there is always some loon throwing money about like it's confetti. I've never had anything other than a crazy session there - until now. I was the action player at this table so I only lasted an hour or so. Only hand of note was flopping the 2nd nut flush whilst on the button and getting check called all the way by the BB - who had the nut flush and actually tank called my river bet before telling his neighbour that he played that brilliantly. So I lost $100 or so on that hand rather than a full buy in which left me down $50 or so. At least the beers were coming round quickly enough to keep me occupied.

It's after 9 when I head back to the MGM - I can't be bothered playing poker too far away as it's a longer drunken stumble back to the Signature. There's a bit of a list so I head to TAP for a couple of beers before being called. Another unremarkable session that ends down about $50 having been ridiculously card dead for most of my session. Usual iffy waitress service means my alcohol levels are pretty static until I decide to call it a night at about 2am - it's only Thursday night and really don't want to peak too soon before enjoying the long weekend.

Friday morning and I'm up before 8 and I need to decide where to watch the football - my team are playing at midday. I settled on the Crown & Anchor on Tropicana - having walked there (I'm a Londoner and a couple of miles is nothing to us although I probably wouldn't do it after dark) I'd built up quite a thirst so I'm ordering my first drink of the day and it's not even half 11. 4 beers later and having seen us lose 2-0 I head dejectedly back out into the sunshine and back over to the strip and it's only just hit 2pm.

I walked back via the Hofbrauhaus, where I stopped for a pit stop and another beer, before continuing all the way down Harmon back to PH. Surely the game can't be as bad as it was yesterday can it? It's not great so I only last an hour before buying in for the tournament, which is why I'd gone to PH in the first place. The tournament ends about 8pm in a 5 way chop for a $350 profit and I'm starving. I've not eaten all day even though I've been drinking since before noon.

Now one of the only things I don't like about being on my own when I travel is eating in restaurants by myself. I much prefer to sit at the bar which is why I tend to frequent the same places time after time. So I head back over to the MGM and throw a decent sized burger and 2 more beers down my throat at TAP. That's definitely hit the spot now and I've got an appetite for my third poker session of the day.

It's whilst at the table at the MGM where I played with a guy who kept getting told that it was English only at the table (blog to follow as it's a bit long winded) but the session was reasonably successful and I booked a $150 win together with working on my drinking challenge (see below) before stumbling back to the Signature at about 3am. "How long is this weekend? It's only Friday night isn't it" my liver is screaming. I think I'm getting old.

On Saturday morning I decided to play a better structured tournament rather than the usual Vegas offering of blinds doubling every level. Or as I call them "you've paid your money now hurry up and fuck off so you can lose more money in the casino". I checked pokeratlas - hmmm there's a decent tournie at Aria but the buyin is a bit too rich for my blood at $26,000 so I settled on the $30k guaranteed pool at the Wynn for a better price of $230. Again I walked up there along Koval and only got offered drugs twice which considering it's only 11am is pretty impressive. Or depressing, if I look like the sort of guy who is out to buy drugs at 11am.

Didn't play badly but got card dead after 3 levels and ended up having to shove my last 8 or so BBs holding KQ suited and got called by pocket 10s which held - that killed 4 hours of Saturday so the day is still young when I switch to the cash tables. I've also only had 4 beers over those 4 hours - on the rare occasion I decide to play a tournament that might last well into the night I limit myself so I can still see straight if I last that long. So my lack of alcohol is getting rectified the moment I sit down.

Another unremarkable session ensued (I make a point of not forcing action at lower stakes, IME recreational players in Vegas at low limits really don't pay attention so there's no point trying to triple barrel bluff someone off top pair) and 3 hours into my session I realise I've not eaten since a small fruit salad that I had for breakfast about 9am so I head off back down to the MGM, along the strip this time as there's no way I'm doing the back route at night, stopping off at the steakhouse in MGM then the bar in the Signature for a couple of drinks before crashing out just after 1 am. Seriously? 1am? I'm ashamed of myself now. Your drinking powers are weak old man.

Which is where I'll leave this entry - it's Sunday morning and although I've got work to do I'm not going to be in LA until Wednesday so I can have a bit more fun over the next couple of days.

Current progress on my attempt to drink my own weight challenge* (see comments in my previous entry for more details):

Monday & into Tuesday - equivalent 22 bottles of beer

Tuesday - zero

Wednesday - zero

Thursday - equivalent 17 bottles of beer

Friday - equivalent 22.5 bottles of beer

Saturday - equivalent 18 bottles of beer

So I've consumed a total of 79.5 bottles of beer equivalent being 27.8kg or 61.3 pounds - given that I weigh about 180 pounds I've consumed 1/3 of my body weight's worth of beer since I left London on Monday. Fuck - that's quite worrying - or impressive. Not sure what's worse to be honest.

*Do not undertake a body weight beer consumption challenge without first consulting your doctor. Who will tell you that you're an idiot for even attempting to do anything so fucking stupid.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

On the road again

I've just started a trip that I've been putting off for a while - I'm now in Las Vegas and will be between here and LA until the end of the month. I really don't like being away from home for this long but a flight back home from the west coast solely for the weekend just isn't as viable as from the east coast. When I'm in NY I'll often take a Friday evening flight, sleep on the short service and arrive back home early Saturday morning before having a weekend with the cost centres before returning on a Monday flight where I can work most of the way so as to not waste a day.

But flights from the west coast are a lot more expensive than from NY due to the increased distance plus the lower number of flights home. Plus the extra 3 hours time difference is a killer when trying to avoid jet lag so I've bitten the bullet and decided to not travel home until at least after Thanksgiving, after which my trips to the US will probably dry up until the new year.

I arrived on Monday and did my usual routine of settling myself in gently. Or I would have done if I'd been remotely sensible, which I'm not. I went nuts.

It's a late afternoon flight from London so I worked at home in the morning before heading to the airport at lunchtime, arriving just after 2pm for a 4pm flight. Some drinks were consumed in the lounge, then some more with lunch and a welcome drink on boarding the plane.

Once we were airborne I scooped a couple of drinks whilst working for a few hours then having something to eat with another couple of drinks before having a few hours nap ahead of landing around 7pm feeling totally refreshed. It's 8.30 or so once I've checked in at the Signature, unpacked and showered before deciding what to do. If this blog were titled "Tales of low stakes poker and boring normality" I obviously would have had an early night - but it's drunken idiocy isn't it. Which I got in spades.

I headed straight to the poker room and got seated almost immediately - pretty unremarkable 7 hour session coupled with far too many beers than is healthy and I stumbled back to the room around 4am.

Up at 8am today and after a few coffees I'm starting to feel slightly more human than expected but I've got work to do so no more shenanigans to report for a few days, I'm heading to LA on Wednesday and Thursday but I've deliberately kept Friday clear to hopefully kick off the weekend with a good dose of drunken idiocy, starting with watching Norwich City play in the Premier League with a midday Friday kick off. Beers, of course, will be consumed once I've decided where to watch the game.

The rest of the weekend I've got no major plans apart from intending to play some poker and drink my own body weight in beer - it's always good to have achievable goals.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

You know it’s for kids right?

I'm going to recount a conversation I had with Mrs AC a few weeks ago:

Mrs AC - Are you here on October 31?
Me - I think so. Why?
Mrs AC - there's a Halloween party and we're invited
Me - where?
Mrs AC - Such and such bar
Me - cool, as long as I'm in NY then I'll come

Now if this were in the U.K. it would have been the end of the conversation. It wasn't.

Mrs AC - what are you going to go as?
Me - eh?
Mrs AC - your costume?
Me - I was thinking bloke in a suit who needs a beer before slowly graduating to bloke in a suit who's had too many beers and needs to go home
Mrs AC - no you need to have a Halloween costume
Me - really? Can't I just turn up and drink beer?
Mrs AC - nope, everyone is dressing up. You'll look stupid if you don't have a costume
Me - I'll look stupid in a costume dressed up like kids do. You realise Halloween is for kids right?
Mrs AC - then you'll love it. You're the most immature person I know.

She's got me there.

Now I haven't been to a proper Halloween costume party since I was about 10 - I went as a skeleton. But our costumes were all homemade and therefore really shit. My costume consisted of my mum's black tights (pantyhose) with paper cut outs of bones stuck to them. Until all the bones fell off and I was just some odd kid hyped out of his head on cheap lemonade and too much candy wearing his mum's tights.

So tonight I'm off to a costume party dressed as Frankenstein's monster and I'm quite looking forward to it. There will be beer, the 49ers are on TNF and I get to spend one more night with Mrs AC who will be dressed as a witch before heading back to London on Friday and it's unlikely we'll see each other until the end of November.

And if it all goes wrong no one will be able to tell that it's me that's had too many beers under my monster costume - and at least I won't be wearing my mum's tights.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Table stakes only

Following on from my last blog, I met Mrs AC at the airport on Friday morning and worked from home for the day whilst we caught up. I finished my work on Saturday and we'd arranged to have a couple of my friends and their partners round for dinner.

I've been friends with one of these guys since the early 2000s and there's virtually nothing we haven't got up to together - we've had countless drunken adventures together with the most memorable probably being separate trips for both our 30th birthdays. For his we ventured to Krakow where his dodgy Russian language skills got us taken to a brothel on the edge of a very rough looking part of town when he's adamant that he asked to be taken to a lively club where we could drink and dance. The highlight of my 30th birthday trip was a visit to a strip club in Budapest only for my dancer to kneel on my phone which was inside my pocket, call the original Mrs AC without my knowledge who then proceeded to listen to an hour's worth of drunken shenanigans (the hour international phone charge was the least of my worries when I got back from that weekend). And what was he doing whilst this went on? Well he was getting himself thrown out of the aforementioned strip club for getting up on stage and trying to dance using the pole. The other guy is an ex work colleague turned drinking partner. I don't think I've actually been in a social situation with him where we haven't been drinking - he's also a keen beer nerd like me and was very keen to sample the beer I'd picked up in Belgium during the week (the verdict was it's good but apparently needs to age for a few months to develop the full flavour range).

So, a dinner party involving us all is not the smart, sophisticated affair you might believe that all English folks have on a weekend. We had one at the first friend's a few years ago which involved quite a big fire in his garden, which was only partly intentional.

Over drinks and dinner we got talking about our trip to Las Vegas and Mrs AC professed her shock that I've never actually been to Vegas with either of these friends. I think we planned to go one year but the original Mrs AC fell pregnant so that scuppered that plan - if I ever find out who's responsible for that I'm going to have words with him!!

But we told our stories of our drunken idiocy which kept the girls amused until Mrs AC wanted to know the most salacious thing I'd ever encountered in Vegas. The oldest cost centre, who is still at the table trying to act grown up asks what salacious means, "It means it's time for you to get ready for bed as the conversation is going to get blue" I reply.

But I was actually stuck here because I had virtually nothing, I've never been to a strip club in Vegas, have only had a couple of brief and mostly uninteresting interactions with hookers and am generally in town on my own. I was trying to recall anything of interest that I've already blogged about (neither Mrs AC nor my friends know about this blog) but I've actually already told her most of my stories but then I had a flashback - it was the poker session with a very flirty lady who wanted to play for more than just table stakes.

This was about 4 years ago, just after I'd started coming here quite regularly and hadn't even come across a poker blog, let alone considered starting my own so I'd not started taking notes on players or hand histories which is why I've never posted this story before - there's obviously some Freudian reason why this had been repressed deep down in my memory and the reason for this will probably become obvious later on.

I'd been at the table for an hour or so and was enjoying my usual unhealthy intake of free beer when a lady sits down on my left hand side. She's got a drink in her hand and she says that she needs to get drunk to cheer herself up. Super - I've got a drinking partner now so I'm effectively not a solo drinking degenerate for a couple of hours. She clinks her glass against my bottle and necks her vodka and tonic whilst she's ordering another one from the waitress.

She says she's celebrating the anniversary of her divorce which is why she wants to get drunk. She asks about my marital status and I tell her that I'm divorced as well - this definitely perks her up as she tells me she's always had a thing for English guys. Now at this point it's probably pertinent to describe myself - at the time I was not really in shape and I definitely don't bear any resemblance to Brad Pitt or George Clooney. I've had a tough life (I always joke that my paper round was uphill both ways) and I probably look older than my true age of mid to late 30s (despite my mental age barely being out of the teens).

This lady has a problem though - although she's pretty and in good shape she's also at least 10 years older than me and I've never really been into that sort of Mrs Robinson thing. So I'm not overly interested in flirting with her although I'm more than happy to have a drunken conversation at the poker table. She's also very flirtatious with most of the guys at the table so this is probably just her being friendly rather than trying some sort of pick up. At this point of the story Mrs AC is in hysterics - she's 12 years younger than me and says she would have loved to have seen the look on my face when I'm being pounced on by a cougar.

But anyway - back to the story.

Over the space of an hour or so she continues to drink and flirt - she's also very tactile and puts her hand on my arm or neck whilst she's talking to me and more than once she's put her hand on my leg. Whilst I'm not an overly tactile person I'm not bothered as she's very friendly and it's a nice change to have a friendly female as opposed to the miserable guys who frequently populate poker tables.

This continues for quite a while and she's not afraid of divulging very personal information - delighting in telling the table about the boob job she's got planned and asking very personal questions of her neighbours - especially me. She's asks me how "big" I am and the dealer almost gets beer spat at him. I laugh at her and she then looks to see how big my feet are as she says you can tell a guy's size from that. She seems impressed at what she sees as she continues to flirt and talk suggestively.

But then I get into a hand with my new admirer. I flop the nut flush and get a call on all streets from only Ms Cougar until the river when I'm still holding the nuts. I bet $75 and she min raises to $150. I have her covered - maybe $350 left to her $200 so I need to raise. I decided to shove. I announce all in and she thinks for a bit and is acting a bit confused. I think the stack differences are the cause of her confusion.

"So it's $350 to me?" she questions. Well it's not is it? It's $200. The dealer confirms it's all in for her to call but she's still confused. She seems to think she can win my full stack if she calls and wins which is obviously wrong - she can only win whatever she can match. So she clarifies the situation. "I can only win an extra $200 from you?" following up with "Is there any way I can win all of it?"

She then leans into me and whispers in my ear "If you put your whole stack on the line I'll let you take me back to your room for the night". Ok - the dealer is now definitely wearing some of my beer.

Mrs AC is now on the floor upon hearing this tale of a cougar about to pounce on me. She tells the dinner table she can imagine me screaming in terror as I'm dragged off.

So back to the table - there's a problem. Ms Cougar might have thought that she whispered this offer to me and me alone but the alcohol has probably messed up her volume control. It was nowhere close to a whisper - the entire table and some of the players on the table behind have heard and are waiting for my response to being devoured by a hungry and horny cougar. Do cougars eat their mate after copulating? I'm not hanging about to find out or let her do either to me. There's shortly going to be an AC shaped hole in the nearest wall if this carries on.

I probably have a look of abject terror on my face and for once I'm completely lost for words. What the fuck is an appropriate response to this? Thanks but a polite decline? Pretend I've misinterpreted her advance and tell her that there's no need to clean my room as housekeeping does a sterling job?

Luckily the dealer helps me out once he's stopped laughing "I think it's table stakes only here" he pipes up with.

I remain silent, hoping that she doesn't make the offer again. She announces call and I turn over my cards and scoop the pot. She rebuys and goes back to her flirtatious self but doesn't mention her offer again, much to my delight.

So thanks to Mrs AC for providing the impetus to remembering this story - now off to raid the bar in the BA lounge at Heathrow (we're heading back to NY later today) as I need to drink to forget this again. It's either booze or subject Mrs AC to me waking up screaming in the middle of the night and booze is probably cheaper than therapy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The butterfly effect

There’s a saying related to chaos theory that a butterfly flapping its wings over the Pacific can start a hurricane over the Atlantic. It’s obviously not meant to be taken literally but essentially means that a small or meaningless act can potentially have a much greater effect than previously foreseen. And today I know exactly how that feels.

My mother came to visit. Luckily only for a few days as I’m not sure I can handle any longer - she’s perfectly fine in her own home where she has her routine but ask her to do anything that deviates from the norm is like asking a hyped up toddler to behave - it’s just not going to happen.

Within 24 hours of arriving she’d driven me mad. Deciding to do some vacuuming she almost smashed the vacuum cleaner through the TV screen (it was a sports filled Sunday so I really would have lost it had she actually broken the screen), then broken the vacuum cleaner, whined about who to support in the rugby, refused to eat what we were all having for lunch and taken 2 hours to tell me about a 10 minute walk to the park with the main gist being that she saw someone with a dog. She also managed to have the washing machine on constantly for a whole day - did she bring laundry with her?

Then without me realising she’d fucked around with the heating controls so when I woke up at 6am on Monday it was about 3,000 degrees in the house but there was no hot water. What a great way to start the week.

But I’d given her a job to do on Monday that she surely couldn’t fuck up. Stay in the house and sign for a delivery. It was going to arrive before noon so it’s really not that difficult. It usually takes her this long to get up, have her breakfast and moan about everything on the news so it wasn’t going to be a major inconvenience.

Now the delivery I was expecting was important - nothing valuable but a client was sending me some papers which I needed to read ahead of a meeting on Friday. So the plan was to do my reading on Tuesday, head to Belgium to pick my beer up on Wednesday, finish my reading on Thursday ahead of meetings on Friday and picking Mrs AC up from Heathrow as she’s heading over from NY.

So when I get home on Monday eveningthere are 2 surprises waiting for me. There’s no package been delivered and there’s a cat sat on my sofa. I don’t own a cat and have never, in my entire life, owned a cat.

Upon asking my mother where my package is I’m told “You’re out of cat food. I had to go and buy some.” Another one of her problems is that she just can’t answer a question directly, no tangent is too bizarre for her to deviate onto - I think the weirdest one recently has been the answer to “If we get pizza what do you want?” involving her wittering about where her best friend used to live 40 years ago.

So anyway. Where the fuck is my package? (I don’t actually swear in front of my mother - any foul language is only in my head and used to emphasise what I’m thinking during this whole conversation).

“Well I had to go out to get cat food and they must have come whilst I was out”. Why in fuck’s name did you have to go out to get cat food? “Well you’d run out and he was hungry”. Even for her this is batshit insane.

“Why would I have cat food, I don’t have a cat” I reply.

“How was I to know - I just presumed he was yours” pointing to the cat that is about to get ejected from my sofa. “If you’d told me you didn’t have a cat then we wouldn’t be in this mess would we?” Yes, this is definitely my fault and there’s no way of this conversation continuing without me spannering you around the back of your head.

So anyway - I now have no papers, an irate cat who is being kicked out of the house and a cupboard full of cat food.

Tuesday morning and I get a call from the client - did you get the papers? Err no but there’s no way I’m telling him this batshit idiocy. I tell him no and they’ll have to resend them to me, “Fuck (he really did swear on the phone to me), that means we can’t have the meeting on Friday. How does Monday work for you?”

Not good to be honest - I’m meant to be on a plane with Mrs AC back to NY then with another client all next week. They can wait. We rearrange the meeting to Monday and I go about sorting this mess out.

I’m not getting the papers till Thursday, so Friday and then part of the weekend is going to be spent going through them so part of my weekend is ruined, Mrs AC is going to need some retail therapy to get her out of the way whilst I work and I need to reschedule our flights back to NY and make sure the other client is ok with my revised travel plans.

All because I never thought to tell my mother that I don’t have a cat!!

Edit to add extra bonus batshit insanity:

My mother was scheduled to go home on Wednesday and I’d be out all day so I ordered her a cab from a very good local car service to take her to the airport. All she had to do was pack her suitcase, sort out whatever she wanted for breakfast and wait for the car to arrive. How hard could that be?

I was driving through France and Belgium and missed a call from her so got a very panicked voicemail asking me to call her. About 5 minutes after I’d received the call I phoned and could barely hear a thing as there was an alarm going off in the background - my burglar alarm at home.

“What’s the burglar alarm code?” she eventually asks. I tell her and eventually the alarm stops. It turns out she’d tried to set the alarm by guessing the code which eventually set it off. Why in the name of insanity she would do this I have no idea. I’d specifically told her not to worry about the alarm as I only use it when I’m away for more than a day or so. She’s been numerous times and never tried to set it before.

She tells me the cab is there to pick her up and off to the airport she goes - no doubt to witter at the driver all the way to the airport so I’ll have to make amends next time I use them.

A few minutes later I get another call - this time from another number that I don’t recognise. It’s the alarm company who are investigating why the alarm has been ringing. I try to explain the situation but in order to proceed they need the 2nd and 4th digits of my security number. I have literally no idea what this number is so they can’t confirm my identity and tell me the police will be on their way. Oh joy.

Turns out that someone came over, could see no evidence of forced entry and just files a report which might cost me money due to wasting their time.

Friday morning I pick up Mrs AC from the airport and we spend the day at home - Mrs AC is looking for something in the cupboard and asks “Why do you have cat food, did you get a cat?” to which I reply “Honey, it’s a long story. You’d better get me a beer!”  

Friday, October 11, 2019

I’ll always be the guy that can’t finish his beers

Quite a few years ago I lived in the Netherlands and I loved it. I had an apartment just outside Amsterdam city centre, got up later than I'd usually have been in the office in London, cycled to work and was still usually the first person in at 8.30am or so. The office also emptied out by 5.30 pm so I could enjoy my evenings on most days of the week. 

That enjoyment usually entailed heading out for beers a few days of the week, not always a heavy session but I found quite a few decent bars which became my regular haunts. I had a non Dutch colleague who had a Dutch boyfriend (they are now married) and she told me a story of their first date - when she was ready to go she still had half a drink left and her soon to be boyfriend made her finish it. I thought it hilarious but it emphasised how the Dutch are notoriously careful with their money. Not to an extent of being tight, they are very hospitable and will always offer a drink when amongst friends but they like to get what they pay for - if they've bought a drink then they expect it to be finished. I decided to implement this in my own life and to this day I still refer to it as "Amsterdam rules". 

This has lead to numerous situations where I've ordered an unfamiliar beer and not particularly liked it but struggled through and finished it before I can order another one. I do try to order new beers all the time and I've had some absolute horror shows - there was one that was so hoppy and bitter that it effectively turned my face inside out, a smoked beer that tasted like rancid bacon and an absolutely lovely German wheat beer that must rank as one of my favourite beers of all times. That's not a problem I hear you say - well it is when I tell you this beer absolutely disagrees with me, if I have more than half a pint of this beer I'm hugging the great white telephone in the bathroom all night, there's something in it that makes me ill and for the life of me I don't know what it is. 

But I've never broken my Amsterdam rules, until recently. I hate myself for it and I might have to hang up my beer drinking trousers in shame

I was out socially a week or so ago with a client in New York. I've been out for beers with this guy a few times and he's quite good fun to be around - he loves a beer almost as much as me and whenever I'm in town I usually arrange to meet up with him. We'd had a couple of beers when he suggested we order the seasonal speciality - pumpkin beer. Ok - I'm open minded and always keen to try out a new one I told him so we both ordered pints of it (if only they served it in smaller glasses European style my honour might have remained intact). The first mouthful nearly ended up getting spat back at the bar tender. It was fucking horrible. I asked whether the beer was off, unfortunately not was the reply. 

So it's actually meant to taste like that? Now I know Americans have very different tastes sometimes - everything seems to be full of sugar, syrup for breakfast and putting half a strawberry on a steak is just fucking weird. But this was beyond weird, it was the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth. That probably includes eating god knows what when I was a kid. How in sweet jesus could anyone actually enjoy this?

My drinking buddy is already half way through his and I've still got nearly a full pint left. Maybe if I get something really hot to kill my taste buds I can get it done 

But unfortunately I'm on my own here and I need to pull my socks up. I take another mouthful and swallow it. It's so vile I think I'm going to be sick. In fact it actually tastes like I've thrown up in my own mouth and swallowed it again. And I've still got 85% of a pint worth of sick to go. This is going to be hard. I seriously can't stand this - should I drop or spill my beer deliberately? 

Now if this were in London, where we often stand on the street outside of pubs whatever the weather, I would consider actually spilling my beer. But as we're in the US, which seems to be very backward in its public alcohol laws (NY is not too bad but doesn't one state have some retarded rule that all drinks have to be poured out of view of customers?) and we're inside I can't bring myself to do it. (As an aside is it obvious why I love the relaxed attitude to public consumption in Las Vegas - in my mind it's actually illegal to not be carrying an open container when walking down the strip. Perhaps when I come to power it will be). 

I struggle to sip a bit more of my beer but even the smell is now making me want to heave. My drinking buddy has now finished his pint and looks at me struggling and bursts out laughing "I think I've won, I don't think I've ever finished a beer before you. You must be ill" he jokes. This is only our 3rd or 4th beer so it's obvious that neither of us is drunk and can't handle another beer. 

I explain it's the god awful pumpkin nonsense that has no right to be called beer - for the love of god who thought that was a good idea? We both order another beer and I tell him about my Amsterdam rules and how I've tried to finish it but I'm not getting any sympathy - he tells me jokingly that in his mind I'll always be the guy that can't finish his beers. 

And just for Ace here's a picture of the offending beer

Plus I've since found another review so it's not just me that thinks it's rank