Uncle Jack went toddling off towards the bar for a quick schooner and the rest of us visibly exhaled.
It had been, what had become, an exhausting afternoon. First Walter had arrived complaining that he was absolutely appalled that we were proposing to dine al-fresco. He predicted precipitous precipitation. But his god-awful lamentations had been nothing in comparison to Uncle Jack.
He had arrived half-cut and had proceeded to apply the metaphorical scissors to himself.
After pinching almost all the girls’ bottoms (an event which was made all the more embarrassing by his refusal, point blank, to pinch Gertrude. Despite her placing her, not inconsequential, posterior within inches of his hand and bellowing “pinch it or I’ll tell Monty”. Monty whoever he was, must have been dead – or worse deaf and married to old Gertie – because he didn’t respond despite a call put out for him that some said could be heard over three counties. I’ve heard many things said about Gertie, and I’ve said a few of them myself, but I won’t hear a word against her lungs. And you wouldn’t hear a word if you were against them either.), uncle Jack had set his attention towards the bar and now as he returned an incredible thing happened.
Walter, he of the doom-laden phraseology, was proven correct as it started spluttering down. Walt, it must be said, looked rather chipper for a man who had just been given the beginning of a light soaking.
“I told you all,” he cried, “didn’t I? I did, I think you’ll find, tell you all.”
Just as Walter was regaling us with stories of barometers he had encountered, and apparently simple tests you can perform on common seaweed, I noticed, out of the corner of my aspect, old Jack bumbling with his bumbershoot. Just as he found the automatic opening button was when the magnitude of his problems became apparent. He pressed it and the device damn near exploded. Metal and plastic flying this way and that. And Jack standing there cursing to the heavens shouting, “I ordered this as a whisky not a whisky and water.”
Jack was a man who feared dilution, and that is how I remember him screaming at the sky in want of something, anything, to cover his drink.