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A disorderly and miscalculated life.

Byline: DAVID KILVINGTON

SINCE having the ever-sunny Chubb and now the howling Nipper, the few odd nights out - the spontaneous trips up to London or Paris - have come largely to an end.

The complications of dealing with the implementation and co-ordination of any jaunt, the procurement and maintenance of equipment, the provision of facilities and the multifarious related matters (for example, there might be a need for emergency evacuation or possible hospitalisation of a family member) does make one consider whether the effort is really worth it.

As I work, eat and sleep in my house too, my skin has now become white and my pupils permanently dilated from lack of sunlight. I begin to resemble one of those creatures in some subterranean cavern in South America.

When it all gets too much I head for any open space to sit down. To be honest what I should say is, sit down and drink a bottle of Fernet Branca, once a well-known cure for cholera ... then pass out.

Life might be easier if I were into recreational drugs, but I would feel absurd turning up at some dealer's flat wearing tweed and attempting to buy some modish drug. I don't even know the names 'au courant'. I could consult my 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater'... Am I out of touch? I would end up buying heroin or cocaine, as they are the only things I am familiar with through the popular press' reports. But then how to take it? Put it into one's pipe? Take it by the teaspoon? I'll stick with Fernet Branca.

So I awake from a snooze in the park, brush off the leaves and turn up at the playgroup to pick up the daughter. The scrubbed and polished mums there look like they spend their days making fruitcake while listening to Radio 4. At least, I have yet to see any of them carousing down at the local park, scoffing down booze and floating, happily stewed, in the paddling pool.

Talking of which, I think the 'Milf' badge is largely decided at the school gates by the other parents (is there such a thing as a Dilf?). Thanks to their wee darlings, they are no longer able to party, take drugs, and, to boot, have a malfunctioning sex life (the chance of both parents being awake and in the mood at the same time is minimal) - yet idle gossip is a vice requiring little effort.

And I've found having a pretty little daughter is a fine advert for one's genes. Women of childbearing age avidly look one up and down in a fashion usually confined to breeders of Gloucestershire Old Spots. As a true gent I have, of course, merely nodded gracefully at such overtures and swayed along on my way.

Sadly I feel life's many wicked seducements have now dwindled down to red wine, various cuts of beef... and fruitcake.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Nov 21, 2010
Words:485
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