One moment Trev and I were grooving on the dancefloor, Trev with his head bowed, his eyes closed, and his arms extended like a glider; the next, it seemed, Trev was telling the taxi-driver to drop us off outside an 18th-century townhouse with its front door on the high street. As I got out of the taxi, I fell over for the third time that evening. I’d fallen down on the dancefloor while dancing to ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ by the Chainsmokers. And before going out I’d taken a flyer in the garden at home after contesting a 50–50 ball with my six-year-old grandson, distinctly hearing a crack as my right shoulder hit the deck.
Trev paid the driver and pressed the doorbell. I was still languishing on the pavement when the door was opened by a preternaturally gentle and accepting young man, who seemed not to mind at all answering the door at four in the morning to two drunks in their fifties, one of whom was lying on the pavement groaning. He led us through the house and into a sitting room, in which every surface was forested with empty bottles and cans. The party looked like it might have been a good one but it was now clearly over, the only remnants this quiet young man, his petite, dark-haired French girlfriend and Sean, Trev’s nephew. Immediately obvious to Trev and I — addled as we were — was that Sean’s latest ambition in life was to lie with our host’s French girlfriend, an ambition of which our host was tragically all too aware, but gallantly pretending to ignore.
I slumped down in one armchair; Trev in another. Our sad young host affected great happiness at the arrival of two late guests and busied himself offering beer, chemicals and a choice of music.