Chapter 16

Monday 28th June

Some avid Wine-Journal readers have contacted me, apparently concerned over paucity of updates since June 27th. Terry from Scotland has been on hunger-strike whilst June in Whitfield has been bombarding my outbox with abusive messages and threatening lawyers.

Rest assured, the lack of communiques has not been without good reason. Life has swerved in an unforeseen direction and led to a state of affairs where friends and family had to be briefed before goat herders from Uzbekistan logged onto their laptops and divulged the news themselves (no offense of Uzbekistani herdsmen...I promise that you lie on the periphery of my inner circle.) Life is full of unexpected surprises and they do not come much bigger than this.

Firstly, Tomoko and I became engaged. Cue collective sigh of disappointment from millions of single, hot-blooded women throughout the world including Kylie and HRH Jancis of course. Although many of you were outraged back in April when I admitted that I was entertaining the idea of selling my girlfriend to a backstreet Thai brothel, I had second thoughts and decided to marry her instead. Though this is less financially rewarding, it had ramifications for the relationship between myself and her mother and so the money I saved on a one-way ticket to Bangkok was spent at Tiffany's demanding the largest rock in the shop, something even J. Lo would find ostentatious. Needless to say, Tomoko is pleased with the outcome...well, she appears happy. Maybe she would have have countenenced a new life in Thailand?

"How did you propose?," I hear you ask and if you didn't, then I will tell you anyway.

Initially I considered grand gestures gleaned from watching daytime chatshows, when some tattooed, skunk addicted, unemployed 51-year old nutcase, goes down on one knee and requests the hand of his twice married, nipple-pierced, crack addicted, chain-smoking, potty-mouthed 16-year old amoureuses.
But I wanted something unforgettable and romantic that she would recount to her children in old age.
Then, due to unforeseen circumstances and the fact that I had bugger all money, I elected to propose over a bag of fish and chips instead. Alas my plans were scuppered by my local chippie being closed on a Monday, so I resorted to my default dinner: spaghetti bolognaise with Dolmio Traditional sauce. The engagement ring was cunningly cellotaped into the punt of a Dom Perignon 1970, an act of undying devotion that came a cropper when the ring fell off in the fridge and landed on the defrosting packet of mince. With ring safely re-secured, we settled down for dinner and I mentally rehersed my heavily scripted proposal. I explained to Tomoko how DP was a special cuvée and that one must look at the punt to find out exactly why. It took a while for her to comprehend what was underfoot, particularly as the ring was obscured under several layers of Cellotape. But then the penny dropped. There was a moment of hesitation...
Brad Pitt? Taken.
Jude Law? Taken.
Johnny Depp? Taken.
Then she said "Yes".

Now part two of my news.

It is common knowledge that life is a chamber that is partitioned down the middle. The first room is full of toys: rattles, Lego, Scalectrix, bottles of cheap cider, whirlwind romances, one-night stands, soft drugs, weekend breaks in the Balaerics and all-night clubbing. The other room is completely different. Screwed-up relationships, mid-life crisis, meaningless jobs, golf, cardigans, the Atkins diet, holidays at Pontins, crippling mortgages, posh wine, mountainous debt and second hand Ford Mondeos. There is a door that connects these chambers and once you pass through you can never go back.

On that door is one word. "CHILDREN".

Dear reader, I have unwittingly opened that door.

This may disturb some readers, especially social workers aghast that a man with such a warped imagination, could procreate and father a child. Isn't Darwinism supposed to prevent this?

But it is true. Some lucky embryo will be calling me papa, a child who may one day read this diary and understand just how his or her father ended up in the isolation ward at the local infirmary. Perhaps they will point to the exact sentence and say: "So that was the tipping point that sent him over the edge". Perhaps all they will learn is that their father's life alternated between Big Brother and KFC.

At first I considered ringing "The Sun" to report Mankind's second immaculate conception but with no iridescent aura indicating the I was the 21st century Joseph (even though I was a dab hand at carpentry at school) and no booming voice from above directing us to Bethlehem, I concluded that I had simply got my girlfriend up the duff.
Accident? Kind of. But we are over the moon.

Today, a couple of hours before the spaghetti bolognaise, we are watching Tim Henman flail about Wimbledon in the prenatal department reception room whilst waiting for our 12-week scan at Kings College Hospital. The room is full of rotund women with their hands safe-guarding their expanding mid-riffs within which lies their priceless cargo. I am mentally prepared just in case one of them goes into labour next to me. Towels and warm water...that is what you need, isn't it? It is a microcosm of London. No-one on the waiting list has a name that sounds remotely English, including ours, and it must be said that half the women look under 18 years old, the other half over 48.
So much for family planning.

Doctoe O-Ren Ishii

Finally, our names are called up and we are ushered into a private room. We meet our doctor who is Lucy Lui, had she entered the medical profession instead of becoming a sumarai sword-wielding matriarch of the Tokyo yakuza. She ushers us inside and take a seat, speaks in short economical, staccato sentences that are littered with medical terms devoid of vowels. I realise that although this is a momentous moment in both our lives, we are probably the twentieth couple she has seen that day. Tomoko lies down on the couch and Dr. O-Ren Ishii slaps on that cold icky gell onto her tummy. I enquire whether she could scan my own stomach so that I may witness the enzymes breaking down my Burgerking, but she responds with a terse glare that suggests she would prefer to slice off my limbs in alphabetical order.

Left: Dr O-Ren Ishii beckons us into her surgery.

Ickle Baby

Up until this pivotal moment the idea of our procreation has been just that...an idea, something out there in the ether. It is like booking an exotic holiday. You know it is coming but it is just a date in the diary and it is only when you are boarding the plane or checking into the hotel that is becomes real. Pregnancy? That is just a figment of imagination, just a flight of fancy. But as the monitor flickers into view and the amorphous shadows coalesce into in fieri human form, we both gasp as the true meaning of life becomes crystal clear. I was not born to party 'til dawn, to become rich or eat KFC. I was born for him or her.

The first news is positive.
"There's just one" says Dr. O-Ren Ishii and I banish thoughts of identical triplets marauding round the flat. She wiggles the scanner round for a guided tour of our future. There is its head, its arms and even its ickle fingers that the doctor counts.
I wave hello.
Dr. O-Ren Ishii takes some measurements on her HAL computer and analyzes the data on an indecipherable graph that spews out of a console. It reminds me of the Six Million Dollar Man which, when you take inflation into account, would buy you just one second-hand prosthetic arm these days. The computer confirms that our baby is not bionic. During a highly complex lecture on pre-natal medical matters, I realize that Tomoko nor I know bugger all about giving birth, babies and children and resolve to start learning as soon as I get home (after I propose that is.)

Everything is hunky-dory. We leave the hospital stunned, relieved and euphoric, photos of our 12-week baby tucked into a transparent green baby folder.

As I walk back to the car in a jubilant daze.
The door that separates a lifetime silently, gently closes and locks.