Very occasionally – perhaps only once or twice a year – me and P find ourselves drunk at exactly the same time, level and pace… and, by gad, it’s brilliant. Better still, though, is that every time it happens, P inebriatedly offers up one of his notoriously endearing stock-phrases: ‘You know what, love?’ he’ll say. ‘Nobody does getting drunk like we do getting drunk.’
This nobody-does-it-better analogy is a favourite observation of P’s at even the most sober of times. In the last week alone, he has – on separate occasions – commented how nobody does holidays, barbecues, in-car arguments, clumsiness, singalongs, getting lost and stupid accents like we do. Probably for fear of him stopping, I’ve never actually pulled him up on this favourite expression of his (which, when you consider how often I take the piss out of my old man for his repetition of the phrases ‘it’ll be reet’, ‘we can do without another family tragedy’ and ‘by ’eck, there’s brave and there’s foolish’, looks rather like favouritism), so I do hope my drawing attention to it here won’t suddenly call a halt to his charming comments.
The above instance of simultaneous-drunkenness happened last week on our emergency holiday in Spain (on which we did little more than rest, read and race lilos – a winning combination, I tells ya) and, as well as making me look forward to the day on which P will eventually say ‘nobody does retirement like we do retirement’, it also served to remind me just how long it had been since I’d last found myself drunk. So long ago, in fact, that I can’t even recall the previous occasion (she says, glossing over the gin-haze that is night of her book launch). Now, I’m not about to dig myself into the hole of implying that frequent drunkenness = a happier life but, for me at least, my tipsiness on a terrace in Andalucia pointed to perhaps the first moment at which I’d felt truly relaxed and contented throughout this turbulent year.
And not just mentally relaxed, either. Examine, if you will, the following at-ease evidence: during the course of the last seven days abroad, I also read four books (and, trust me, I’ve barely read four books IN MY LIFE), wrote 5,000 words, watched no TV, wee’d with the door open, wore not a smidgen of make-up, and didn’t blow-dry my hair once. Still not convinced? Then try this on for size: I also sunbathed topless. Yup, topless. Me and my mismatched tits, nothing between us and the outside world but mountain air and factor 30.
So, okay, P and I were staying in a tiny villa at the top of a hill in remote Andalucia (I’d have never have given the removal of my bikini top even a nanosecond’s thought had I been catching rays beside a communal pool) but, for a girl who’s strongarmed her husband into bra-on sex for the past two years, this is quite the turn up for the books.
Looking down at my lop-sided lady-lumps as I lay back on my Spider-Man lilo, I was reminded of one of my favourite moments in my book, in which P and I headed off for an indulgent weekend away in the Ashdown Forest during the time between my mastectomy and my first round of chemo. I wrote about having spent a happy half hour in my knickers, straightening my hair in front of a window whose curtains remained open – despite angry new scars across my back and under my armpit, a deflated left tit and a circle of back-skin where my nipple should have been. Back then, I didn’t know whether my new-found confidence was down to feeling better than I had since my surgery, or simply because I was enjoying a last hurrah before chemo did its worst. But even this time – with my left’un thankfully as inflated as the lilo on which I floated – I was at a similar loss as to why I’d inexplicably chosen this as my moment to bare all.
Bobbing along on his Dora the Explorer lilo (no gender stereotyping for the Lynches, thank you very much), P caught me gawping at my boobs, flabbergastedly frowning at them as though they’d only that moment appeared on my chest, in much the same way I did when suspiciously staring at the supermarket trolley in which I woke up during my first term at uni.
‘You know, you really have got great baps,’ he said, unnecessarily flatteringly.
‘Ah, but which one is better?’ I asked. (I know, right? Talk about a loaded question. I might as well have asked the poor sod whether my cellulite was visible from the other end of the pool, who out of the two of us he thought was the best looking, or which of my mates he fancied the most.)
‘Well, I’d have to say the left one,’ he said, quick as a charismatic cat.
‘…is the correct answer!’ I chirruped. Because, hell, when you’re on a countdown to the removal of your only god-given nork, hearing from your husband that the natural one is his preferred of the two could result in a severe – and rightful – dunking.
What our weekend in the Ashdown Forest and our week in the Spanish hills had in common was this: a distinct feeling of calm before a storm; of making the most of a lovely time before the next round of Bullshit (or, in this case, Bullshit prevention). And, obviously, when weighed against the chemo that was looming the last time I found myself sans bra, this time’s prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy (jaysus – mouthful, anyone?) is a comparative holiday in the Bahamas.
But not even a tough old bird like me could head into a prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy the loss of her ladybits (much better) without even a relatively teensy, AA-cup-sized bit of worry. And so I’m beginning to wonder whether my new-found chest-confidence in choosing this most ridiculous of moments as my topless-sunbathing debut is simply yet another example of the irrational, brassy, dorky daftness that is my stock response to nervousness; the equivalent of telling The Curly Professor that I think he’s ah-may-zing while my face blushes like a slapped arse, or acting like an overconfident tit with a stalker-crush every time I see Smiley Surgeon. It ain’t your normal route to getting ’em out on the beach, granted – but, then, nobody does absurdity like I do absurdity.