HAPPY HOUR

Peter is old and frail and lives alone.
Is there a way out?
He thinks he's found the answer on the internet.
But while he's setting his house in order, he has several interruptions.

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2. PETER AND LORNA

 

LORNA STARTS SERVING LUNCH, AND YOU’LL REMEMBER THAT THESE CAPITALS MEAN THERE’S BEEN A TIME SHIFT. WE’VE GONE BACK A BIT TO WHEN SHE WAS STILL WITH PETER.

 

‘There you go darling. Bon appetit.  I hope you enjoy this. I’ve never tried it before. The recipe, I mean.’

 

Peter was expecting something else. And he can’t help saying so. In his inimitable fashion.

 

‘Jesus Christ Lorna, what’s this? I thought you said we were having…’

 

‘Now don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Peter your language is getting worse and worse. I hope you won’t carry on like this when the grandchildren get here. Anyway, to answer your question, it’s “osso buco” darling, and it’s Italian or Greek, I can never remember which. I’m sure it’ll be very nice, just try it, and here’s a drop of red wine for you. Just one glass, remember what the doctor said.’

 

‘Jesus, Lorna, why spoil a good glass of wine, even such a small one, by contaminating it with this… this… whatever it is. You know I don’t eat this kind of thing. I’d rather eat fish even if it’s not Friday.’

 

‘Peter, you know that’s not true. If I’d cooked fish you’d have made an almighty fuss and I’d never have heard the end of it. Now just eat up. There’s a good boy.’

 

To break up the dialogue, imagine the sound of knives and forks scratching around on plates.

 

‘I’m sorry Lorna, I’ll just stick to the wine.’

 

‘Peter! You’re becoming an alcoholic, you can’t skip your food and just drink alcohol. Think what you’re doing to your body. Your liver must be in a terrible state already.’

 

‘I’m not sure about that, but my stomach certainly would be if I eat this… this “osso” stuff… whatever you called it.’

 

‘“Buco”, Peter. “Osso buco”. But you are impossible. I hope you’re not going to carry on like this when Molly’s here with the boys.’

 

‘Ah, yes, Molly, is she bringing … you know… I suppose he’s coming, is he? What’s his name?’

 

‘Yes, Peter, they’re all coming. And his name’s Pat. Please try to remember it. After all, he is her partner, Pat is. And he’s been very good to her for, well it must be going on fifteen years now, I suppose. And to the boys. He treats them like his own. He tries hard, anyway.’

 

The sound of cutlery on plates competes with other noises in Peter’s head as Ms Lynn goes on singing about meeting again on the white cliffs of Dover. Or is that another of her songs?

 

‘Well, I’m not as sure as you are about him trying hard. He doesn’t seem to make much of an effort with me, does he? He’s just like Jamie, in a way.’

 

‘That’s not right Peter. He has tried with you. They both have. Pat and Jamie. But…it’s the age gap, I suppose. It’s just that you have so little in common. And you can be quite difficult as well. As you know, I suspect, Peter, darling.’

 

‘Well, it is quite difficult for me to get excited, enthusiastic even, about heavy metal bands and car exhaust pipes or headlights. But the point is, I just don’t see what she sees in him, and that’s all there is to it.’

 

‘Stop this Peter, I can tell that you’ve decided already that you’re going to be difficult if they do manage to come.’

 

Now pay attention, dear reader, always be sure to follow who is saying what in Peter’s head. Because it’s a jumble. Because he’s elderly. And because he’s in the early stages of one of those things old people get. And he can’t quite remember when these people who are coming are due. And now he’s trying to work out why Lorna said ‘if they do manage to come’. He thinks he hears Vera singing, “I don’t know where, don’t know when.” But Peter has difficulty with dates and times in the future. He just doesn’t seem to be able to get a fix on them any more.

 

‘OK, Darling. I do look forward to seeing the boys. But, from what you’ve said, I’ve got a hunch that we’re in for another surprise. Like last year. When they left us in the lurch. So don’t bet your life on it. Anything could happen.’

 

‘Oh Peter, last year was an exception. Molly was very upset about it. So were the boys. But Pat had to go to America during the crisis they had. His company. He’s a key man in the organization. That’s why they had to cancel. So when they’re here don’t let’s get into any of that stuff about global warming. Or economic imperialism. Or any of those other favorites of yours. Not everyone enjoys an argument, dear. Not like you do.’

 

And Vera sings on, “We’ll meet again, some sunny day.” 

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