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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I suppose I had better tell you what I've been up to though this last week has been somewhat exotic and dramatic and sounds more like a film script than a sober life.

How can I put this in a few words? Let's see... I went to a friend's arranged marriage in deepest Turkey (the bride was drop-dead gorgeous) and then I met my own last wife who looked like she hadn't aged at all and I would have remarried her on the spot if she hadn't had her new and rather quiet new husband with her.

The first engagement was in Islamic territory and there wasn't a drink in sight. I watched about a hundred people dancing about as though they had all been on the pop all day. But I was with all the brothers throughout the morning and the most exciting thing was when they bought a water melon from a man on a donkey in a rubble-strewn street in Adapazari, the epicentre of the devastating earthquake that killed 40,0000 people two years ago. The bride was in white and I wore a suit and tie, which was what they expected an English gentleman and important guest would do. I didn't drink of course which came as no particular surprise to them because they don't, even when their sister is getting married to a stranger.

Then the ex flew into Manchester from America, which was a bit of a feat considering most planes were grounded when the Holy War started.

Now you have to understand that we spent a lot of time in Ibiza in the drinking days and I seem to remember having to carry her home not once but twice in one day.

She had told me she too wasn't drinking any more, but I caught that look about her and took her to the Hard Rock Café where we sat under Jimi Hendrix's braces and I had a cup of coffee while she sipped tenderly on a glass of beer that looked like it had followed her across the Atlantic. The new husband had nothing, not even a grimace. If I was him, I wouldn't have been there.

I took a good friend with me to give me strength and he calmly downed a pint of best bitter while we talked of days gone by and whether the world and why our once-happy marriage had gone daft. It was the drink.

I must also tell you that I couldn't tell my mother where I was because she hates her like you might consider finding a snake coming up out of the toilet.

Can you imagine telling your ex wife that you don't drink anymore while explaining you've been to an arranged marriage in Turkey and then struggling through the menu in a Japanese restaurant next door?

I wanted a drink, I wanted a cigarette, I wanted a bar of chocolate (I'm diabetic as well as sober) and what I really wanted was to be out of there. I wanted to curl up in bed and hide. I wanted to speak to my mother, I wanted the years to roll back and I wanted to write this column so Gary wouldn't ring me up and ask me where it was because it was overdue.

And finally, after the inevitable coffee and tears, it was all over. She was like a lap dancer in the end, crawling all over me with a wet face.

The new husband didn't hit me or anything. He just sort of went away with her and my friend said that was an interesting afternoon before we got the bus home.

Back in Turkey, the arranged bride was refused permission to come and live in England by a rather bored official at the British embassy and I still hadn't unpacked my suitcase which appears to contain her underwear.

It was the kind of week when I could have disappeared under a sea of drink, never mind a bride's bra and panties. I mean, how did they get in there when I was completely sober?

I think I'll just send you this column and go to bed with a mug of hot chocolate, if that's allowed.

Sinclair Newton