Well I've spent the weekend getting up close and personal with the motorways of Britain, but I'm back. And a day early too. Which is what happens when you make the mistake of thinking that 48 hours with Lisa's long lost relatives will be a breeze.
My drive down to Brighton on Friday afternoon was brightened up when I overtook a car on the M25, to which someone had stuck a handwritten notice, obscuring the numberplate. I drew closer to see what the sign said, assuming it was some kind of DVLA announcement, only to find that it read "I'm the only gay in Stratford". I'm not sure if the driver was the victim of a practical joke, or just extremely comfortable with his own sexuality. Either way it made me laugh.
The plan for the weekend was to take Lisa up to Sheffield for a momentous first meeting with... [brace yourself]... her father. (First meeting for me, that is, not her. She's met him... oooh, at least four or five times). Lisa had prepared me for the event by doing numerous impressions of the man saying "Hello there" in an Irish accent. Interestingly it was the one phrase he never used all weekend, and his accent wasn't even that thick. But at least she tried.
I'd insisted that we leave at 9:30am on Saturday, to ensure we got to Sheffield in the light, so naturally we rolled out of Brighton about 1:30pm, and sat around in a branch of Burger King on the M1 for a good half hour on the way. Somehow we still made it to Sheffield in four hours though. So we must have had a following wind.
Upon arrival we drank tea, chatted about hospital treatment, the weather and traffic conditions, then, keen to make the most of our limited time with Lisa's father, we went to the pub. Without him. But I'm sure he was happy staying in and watching 'Stars in Their Eyes' with his wife. Naturally it would've appeared rude to stay out for long though, so we made sure we weren't gone for much more than three hours, and made it back shortly after half the household had gone to bed, giving us just enough time to watch a programme about swingers, get the info on local lap dancing clubs from Lisa's father, feel slightly uncomfortable, and head off to bed ourselves.
Sunday morning was spent holed up in the guest bedroom, after Lisa realised that she had no need to leave as long as she could persuade me to go on regular scouting missions downstairs for cups of tea and cornflakes. Once we found our packed lunch from the previous day was still edible, it was touch and go as to whether I'd get her out of there before Monday. But we eventually put in an appearance soon after midday, and took our hosts out to lunch at a local restaurant called Damon's.
As we ate, I was fortunate enough to be treated to the life story of Lisa's father. Interestingly he managed to miss out the story which Lisa's mother had told me on Saturday morning before we left, but I'm sure that was just an oversight. When Lisa went to the toilet, the conversation turned to love, and having listened to heartwarming tales of how her father was saved from alcoholism by his current partner, I considered asking him for his daughter's hand in marriage. But the dessert menu arrived and I got distracted. I'll do it another time.
Back at the house we accepted the offer of a cup of tea, and I was introduced to the family's pet ducks. Our plan had been to stay until Monday morning, in order to fully bond with the northern half of Lisa's family. As it turned out, we left before Lisa had even drunk her tea. But don't let that fool you - we actually had a lovely time, and we'd go back tomorrow.
It's just lucky that tomorrow never comes.
So as we speak, I'm back in Brighton (in the middle of a blizzard), and about to receive my reward for driving 600 miles in three days. Yes, that's right, Lisa's in the kitchen attempting to cook me lasagne for the first time in her life. Lorraine has a lot to answer for...