A Viperish Weekend

I’m going to review my weekend, you lucky people.

Why? Do I need a reason? I do HAVE a reason, but do I need one? Can’t we just talk, like we used to? Can’t you just sit there and enjoy listening to me? Where did we go wrong?

I’m reviewing my weekend because I was happy for the majority of it and that is really rare for me. My Depression seemed to take a little holiday. I have no idea why. I would love to know if it was hormonal, situational or psychological. I wish I could find a way to recreate the set of circumstances necessary for me not to feel like I’d be better off dead.

What was so fan-fucking-tastic about my weekend? Nothing bum-shattering, to be honest. I didn’t spend the whole weekend in a semi-orgasmic state of bliss, not even close. I just didn’t have the constant nagging feeling that I was wasting a seat in the train of Life when I ought to get off at the station of Oblivion. I felt ‘normal’, whatever that is.

Let me tell you every punishingly mundane detail. You like that, don’t you, you dirty reader?

On Friday night, Mrs Viper removed my shock collar and tracking device. She said I had permission to go to my best friend’s for a sleepover. To be clear: I have two friends, both of whom I refer to as my ‘best’ friend. This system of nomenclature stops the two of them fighting for dominance on the rare occasions that I allow them to meet.

The best friend I went to visit for Friday evening is a man that my dear lady wife trusts to care for me and, if necessary, chastise me using the approved methods. He is a confirmed bachelor, a scholar and a renowned wit. He has tolerated me for more than twenty years. I have no idea why. He seems to find me amusing.

How do we spend our time? Let me tell you. He lives in a house of great character (late 1800s, chilly, ecclesiastical) that is set in a garden of simple beauty. Frankly, I’d go there just for his house, he’s hardly relevant. We have a coffee and a gossip, followed by a walk to the shop for provisions. The walk is something that I look forward to because we have been doing it since Easter and I have watched the seasons changed. We have faced weather in its infinite variety (no snow yet, but let me enjoy exaggerating, ok? OK).

At the shop we will invest in a wine box (cardboardeaux as he calls it) or cheap bottled plonk. We are not connoisseurs, we’re drunks. We get snack foods and pizza. If I’m weak and I have some money, I get cigars. My friend usually pays the bills because I’m poor and he’s generous. He does make me carry the shopping, though. He also makes me cook the pizza. I’m essentially his bitch.

Then it’s back home for a night of high-brow conversation, crap films and dick jokes. Long, wobbly, juvenile dick jokes.

As Friday nights go, it was a doozy. My friend has had some good news at work, so he was in high spirits. I was feeling unusually chipper, so I didn’t have to fake a good mood. I laughed until I cried, more than once. I became helpless with mirth at the sight of his over-frosted freezer compartment (seriously, it looked like Hoth, the ice planet… there was a small Taun Taun in there). It was that kind of night.

On Friday morning I had the expected hangover, but my hair and beard were looking sexier than ever, so that was some compensation. I had to zip back home fairly sharpish to ferry my eldest child to drama club. It was a hectic morning, but it felt good. I felt like my family benefited from having me around. They always tell me they love me, but most days I can’t feel it or understand it. Why would anyone love me? Well, on Saturday, I could feel it. I felt loved and, strangely for me, I felt lovable. It makes me feel emotional just remembering it.

On Saturday afternoon, we took a family trip to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. I can’t explain the importance of Chatsworth to it. Mrs Viper and I went on some early dates there. We spent our Honeymoon in the Hunting Tower. Even when we were separated and facing divorce, we took the kids to Chatsworth together because the kids love it and we love them. Now that we are back together, we still go there. Despite the fact that I’m a horror of a human being, Mrs Viper still wants to walk through gardens, look at a beautiful country house and eat afternoon tea with me. I will never understand why, but I’m eternally grateful for it.

Afternoon tea in the Chatsworth restaurant is a huge treat now that we’re strapped for cash. We had made some savings, though, and we managed it. My eldest is six, but has better table manners than some teens. It makes me so proud to see her daintily eating sandwiches, bless her. My three year old does an amazing job. I forget that she’s a toddler. She loves a scone, bless her. Mrs Viper is almost as well-mannered as the children. I wrote that as a joke and I hope that Mrs Viper will be merciful.

The House has been decorated for Christmas. Yes, I know it’s not even Advent, I’m well aware of that, thanks. I don’t care. Do you hear me? I DON’T CARE! Christmas is a time of year that I enjoy. I know it’s a sham. Yes, I know it’s shamelessly commercialized. I know that poor people aren’t getting presents. I know, I know. Christmas sometimes reminds me of myself: it’s capable of being sparkly, but it’s empty at heart. Christmas only means what you pretend it means (still quite like me). At Christmas I pretend to believe in magic and the twinkly lights make it easier.

The theme of the decoration at Chatsworth was “The Nutcracker”. I’m not big on ballet, but I love nuts. Is that a joke? It has the rhythm of a joke. I’ll say it’s a joke.

I think I might do a separate post just about Chatsworth, then I can show some of the pictures that we took. This post is too long and rambling to count as a review and I’m not sure Chatsworth House would want to be linked to my ongoing mental illness and emotional problems.

Crashing on… in the evening, we went to visit my poor, dear, grey-haired old mother. She was not in one of her ‘moods’ (don’t get me started on her moods!), so it was all good fun. Fish and chips for tea! Bath time for the kids! Strictly Come Dancing! I enjoyed it all. I ACTUALLY enjoyed it. It wasn’t a performance. I didn’t have to plaster on a smile. I had a good time. It was a revelation.

On Sunday, Mrs Viper and I took a two mile walk with my mother’s dog. We followed that with a five mile run. I’m training Mrs Viper for a half-marathon next year and she’s making incredible improvements. Eight weeks ago, she couldn’t manage a mile. She’s an inspiration. After the run and suitable ablutions, I made the family a cooked breakfast. It was, naturally, magnificent.

A quiet afternoon at home let us regather our strength so that we could RETURN to Chatsworth for their bonfire and fireworks. It was a freezing night full of cute hats and voluminous scarves. I wore the chunky sweater that my Nana had knitted long ago for my Dad. They’re both dead, but the sweater lives on. There’s a message in there somewhere. I am a man built for autumn: my beard and hair provide warmth; my height is good seeing over the crowds at a bonfire party; my arms are big and strong enough to lift two chilly children. It was classic dad-work.

The ladies drifted to sleep in the car as we drove home. I could actually believe that I had some value to them. They are so precious to me, but I can’t understand why they want me around. On Sunday night, I felt like I fitted in.

Then it was bed and sleep and start the week again. I’m typing this out in a free moment while Mrs Viper is at work, Viperette is at school and the little Viperina is busy playing. I’m not sure if this post is intensely dull for a reader, but for me it has been extremely pleasant. That’s all that matters: me having a good time. I hope you choke on it.

Go away now, stop wasting your time.




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