So this is how it goes.
Friday. I’ve a long standing agreement to meet a friend for a couple of beers. We exchange texts during the afternoon confirming the details. The Lord Clyde in Borough, since you asked. It’s a good place if you’re ever in the area. Nice pint of Adnams. Then to the Royal Oak for a drop of Harvey’s Pale. He’s quite adamant though that it’ll only be a quick one; just to catch up. He’s got to be up early in the morning.
We’re meeting at six-thirty and suddenly it’s five-forty-five. I need to be off. I haven’t had anything to eat, but I think it’ll be fine. I’ll probably be home by nine. I can get some dinner then.
“It’s just a quick one and a catch up, after all.”
Beck gives me the raised eyebrow look that suggests she knows better than I do.
Because it’s never a quick one, is it? It starts off well enough, but suddenly I’m on the 1225 out of London Bridge pissed, quite frankly, as the proverbial fart.
I have a little sit down at Honor Oak Park station, preparing myself for the final stagger home. Once outside, in the now deserted street, I’m accosted by someone in a spot of trouble.
“Mate! Mate! Is this Crystal Palace?”
“Whur?” I manage.
“Am I in Crystal Palace?”
It takes me worrying length of time to process the question.
“Neh,” I eventually splutter. “Honor Oak. Palash is that-away.” My arm flaps unconvincingly.
“Is it a long walk?”
“Wulk?” I ponder this for a moment. Technically you could probably walk, but another idea occurs to me: “Neh. Bush. Bush from Forshest Hills.”
I rearrange my teeth.
“Forest Hill. Hey,” I have a sudden moment of lucidity. “Where are you from?”
“Thought so. Me too. Where abouts?”
“I’m from King’s Heath.” Somewhere a tiny part of my brain still sober is completely baffled by this pointless lie.
“Yeah, great,” he seems to be getting bored of me now. “So, how do I get to Forest Hill?”
In coherence chooses now to return.
“Hurgh,” now there’s a pretty good shortcut which’ll only take about ten minutes, but I think describing it may involve too many words than I can coherently piece together so instead I say: “Thish way. Right… Right onto Broccoli Rhish, right around into the Showlth Circh. Ten… Ten minutsh.” We start walking in the same direction. This is pretty simple, but possibly not the most direct and I suddenly remember an alternative.
“Wait!” I cry somewhat over-the-top. “Not thish way. The other woy. Devonshumthink. Devonland? Devonshure. Devonshure Road.” My finger waves in the opposite direction. “Ish quicker.”
“Thanks,” he says wandering off and not bothering to wait for a more detailed explanation.
I wonder if he made it okay.
Me? I managed to fall through the front door, made a completely unconvincing attempt to appear sober to Beck and went straight to bed.
My one eye opened slowly and strained to focus on the clock. It was 0712. I rolled out of bed and went to empty my straining bladder. Whilst my stomach deflated and I considered getting in the shower and that’s what I should have done. Instead, I thought “it’s Saturday” and went back to bed for a bit.
A couple of hours later I managed to get up a little bleary eyed, but not too bad. And then it hit me. As the water cascaded against my head the world swooshed upwards and may balance faltered, stomach churned and the deep crunch of brain cells was a bad, bad sign.
I finished washing, got dressed, decided that was enough and promptly got back into bed for a little rest.
Beck brought me some aspirin and after a while I hauled myself to my feet and went out for a paper and some desperately needed fresh air. It proved to be a false dawn and two mouthfuls of cereal defeated me. Back I trudged, up the stairs and to darkness for a little longer.
Finally I managed a banana, a cup of coffee and to watch some of the snooker on television without the light burning my eyes. Beck made some Greek salad and that went down surprisingly well.
So, it’s fine. I’m not dying after all.
Whilst hangovers at all, let alone ones of this magnitude are pretty rare these days it’s possibly just because I know the tricks to beat them rather than actually drinking less and on Friday I hadn’t followed the rules. Eating, that always helps. Drinking plenty of water. That’s a good one. Not going to be pub with Andy probably should be one.
A hang-over is, of course, your body telling you to slow down; take it a little steady. But at the moment they have further complications. I’ve a deadline coming up and Saturday morning was a write-off. I’ve yet to review the work I did manage in the afternoon, but I suspect it’ll be far from my finest prose.
“I’ve got to cut down,” I tell myself during a brief relapse. “I’m getting too old for this.”
And I’m right. You can count the days until I turn twenty-nine and at a time when a lot of my friends are getting themselves deliberately impregnated and buying houses and generally being adults, can I still be titing about in random boozers?
So, Saturday night we’re off to Madia Vale and Amy’s birthday party. You know those how-to-not-get-a-hang-over rules? Here’s another one to break.
“You know I think I’m beered out after last night. I’ll stick to red wine.”
Beck gives me another of those looks.
Suddenly it’s two in the morning. I’ve just woken up at the end of the number thirty-six bus route and there’s a worrying red tint to my vision.
“Whurg,” I panic. “Ofta da bush! Quirlk!”