Hangover Square

“So, I’m off home to Norway tomorrow to look after my grandmother,” TechBoy says. We’re sitting on a sofa in the pub, drinking gin and slimline tonic (me) and lager (him).
“How old is grandmother?” I ask. He’s my age – thirty five – so she must be getting on a bit, I think.
“She’s eighty three. To be honest, she can look after herself. It’s my dad who’s the problem – he’s an alcoholic,” he says, looking sad.
“I’m really sorry to hear that,” I say.
“It’s OK,” he says, gazing at me with ice blue eyes. “He’s not a nasty drunk – he’s pleasant, just drunk all the time. Last year, both his brothers and his sister died of alcoholism. So, Grandma lost three of her children last year. So now Dad’s got even more sorrows to drown and…”
“That’s awful,” I say. “Your poor Grandma.”
“She says ‘what did I do wrong?’ But it’s not her fault.” He pauses, sips his beer. “My grandfather was an alcoholic you see and he drank himself to death and…sorry this is a bit depressing.”
“No, it’s fine,” I say. We’re about five minutes into the date and the chat has already arrived here. Ah well. Better not have any children with him, I think. They’ll drink themselves to death.
“So, Norway owns a lot of the South Pole,” he says. “And a couple of my friends are researchers there, and I’m thinking of visiting them and…”
“How come Norway owns the South Pole?” I say.
“It’s historical. There was a race to get there, and we got there first,” he says, smiling. “We were clever enough to use dogs, rather than horses. That’s why your lot died.”
“Yes, of course,” I say. Poor Captain Scott and those poor horses, I think…

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