Very Angry With That Umbrella

‘X— described the general sensations of being well drunk as magnificent, splendid. “But,” he says, “you mustn’t set out to get drunk. It must take you unawares”. He told me that when sober he frequently lost umbrellas, but when drunk never. He made a special point of retaining his umbrella then in his hand; it became his chief concern in life. Once he got badly drunk at Maxim’s. He just had sense enough to take a cab to the rooms of a mistress he had then. She received him and undressed him and put him to bed. But he would not “leave go” of his umbrella during the process. He passed it from hand to hand as she divested him of his coat, waistcoat and shirt, and he took it to bed. And he said: “She became very angry with that umbrella”. (Journal of Arnold Bennett, December 10th 1904)

One often complains, but one can never deny that some stories of drunkenness will always retain the ability to entertain. So long, as Bennett’s anonymous friend has it, that one does not set out, flagon in hand, with the expressed purpose of creating an evening that will sound entertaining in retrospect.

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