Thursday, 16 September 2010
My last post touched briefly on my exploits when out in Manchester with friends applying red paint liberally to the city centre.
And it got me thinking about how much this has changed over the years.
I thought I would present for your fun and enjoyment, dear reader, an account of the first time I had a tussle with alcohol while attempting to paint the town red.
If you are squeamish, stop reading now.
For the rest of you ...
My tussle with alcohol was hardly a fair fight - I lost!
Let this be a lesson to you if you are young and foolish as I was then.
Back in 1980 I was an eighteen year old spotty kid with long, bushy and unmanageable hair who was discovering for the first time that it was possible to venture out and, with the aid of alcohol, have a wonderful night of laughter and drunken debauchery.
I had sampled the delights of alcohol briefly and at that age I really didn’t like beer at all.
Despite this, I succumbed to peer pressure and along came that fateful day when I first got really, really drunk.
At the time, I was in my second year in the sixth form at school, preparing for university but my best mate at the time had left a year or so earlier and joined a building company.
To protect his identity I shall simply call him S.
Unfortunately for S, his job only lasted a year before he was made redundant with a few other mates, some of whom were in their early twenties. They decided to drown their sorrows with a pub crawl around Walsall town centre and I was invited along.
I had only ever had a couple of beers and I reasoned, foolishly in hindsight, that drinking was easy and it would be fun.
We started at 7 o’clock and aimed to move around the numerous pubs drinking half a pint in each. Because I hated beer, one of the lads suggested I try lager and lime. It was quite pleasant and I thought that this would become my drink of choice.
We visited pub after pub and the more I drank the happier I became. I started chatting to complete strangers as my inhibitions were washed away in a tsunami of alcohol. I even recall kissing a girl at one stage to raucous cheers from the lads I was with.
I loved it and the fuzzy haze that was beginning to descend made me feel even better.
I was brave.
I was adorable.
I was loved by everybody.
I could conquer the world.
I was absolutely totally and utterly rat-arsed.
As you can imagine the inevitable happened. I recalled being in a certain pub at a certain time and then my mind went blank. It was as if God himself had erased part of my mind. One minute I was in a pub, the next I was in Hell.
I thought I was dying.
With the help of S, my irate mother and my irritated father, I was able to piece together the events of the previous evening.
S and I had walked home and at some point I had fallen over in a pile of mud – the evidence was there in front of me. My jeans were caked in filth and my shirt that had started the evening light blue had become a dirty brown.
I had arrived home and walked into the house where apparently I had said “Hi Mum, I’m off to bed.” Except it hadn’t translated that way – it came out as a drunken vocal splurge and my mum chose that moment to severely bollock me, an act that proved to be a catalyst to the inevitable consequence of drinking far too much.
My next words were “I feel sick!”
She understood that sentence and as I collapsed onto the floor she found a bucket and put my head in it – not one second too soon.
Ten minutes of puking later, my dad arrived home and saw my mum emptying the contents of the bucket down the toilet and cursing me with all of her venomous might.
My dad then made a fatal mistake. He uttered the words that would haunt him for the next 24 hours.
He said “That’s my boy,” and laughed as he carried me to bed.
My mum exploded in rage and had so much to distribute that she shared it equally between my father and me.
She was livid and sleep didn’t subdue the erupting volcano within her.
Next day she screamed at me from the moment I opened my eyes.
My head was pounding so much that I thought it was going to explode. I spent the entire morning retching over the toilet.
The phrase “Calling God on the great white telephone” had never been more apt.
My stomach was empty, yet I continued to puke air – this was a new and hellish experience for me and my stomach was in agony. My throat burned with fury and my headache was so bad that I thought my brain was trying to break out of my skull.
To make matters far worse, my mum continued to vent her spleen. There is nothing worse than being screamed at by an irate woman when you have hangover so evil that Satan himself would shy away from it.
I wasn’t the only target of her wrath. My poor innocent father was verbally ripped apart for laughing and uttering his ill-chosen words. He was a laid back guy but even he started shouting at me as he buckled under the onslaught.
“Look what you’ve done. You come home pissed and it’s ME who has to suffer.”
“But Dad – I’m dying here – and she’s screaming at me too.”
“I have NO sympathy!”
I stayed in bed being plied with water by my angry mum for the rest of the day and only surfaced in the evening. Thankfully, by this stage my mum had decided that she wasn’t going to speak to me any more (which was a major bonus).
My dad glared at me – because she hadn’t stopped haranguing him.
“It’s YOUR fault,” she hissed. “If you didn’t drink then he wouldn’t be copying you.”
I sat in silence, nursing a pint of water and struggling to eat some toast.
If you think my tale of woe is bad, you should hear what happened to S. Actually, allow me to tell you. His story is far worse than mine.
I heard about his exploits from his younger brother who laughed so much that he nearly had an accident.
S had arrived home, giggling like a baby. Unlike me, he had vague recollection of what had happened on the way home. We had decided in our drunken wisdom to take a short cut across a building site that was so far away from the street that it was absolutely pitch black.
I had been barely able to stand up let alone walk and soon the inevitable happened; I fell into a filthy and very muddy puddle.
The scary thing is that I honestly do not remember this at all.
When S arrived home, still laughing at my expense, his parents were alerted by what they thought was a maniac. They were convinced that a hellhound had arrived on their doorstep and was trying to break down the door. S could not manage to get his key in the door. His dad opened the door and S collapsed inside the house still laughing while trying to tell his parents about my fall. His words made no sense and eventually his irate father carried him upstairs and put him into bed where he fell asleep.
Mother Nature decided that she had to be cruel to be kind and the inevitable tsunami of vomit announced to S that he needed to get to his own great white telephone in the bathroom as quickly as possible. Sadly, he only made it as far as the window, which he somehow managed to open before chundering into the back garden all over his mother’s prized flower beds.
To make matters worse, he then decided to go to the toilet to relieve himself and somehow managed to stumble into his brother’s bedroom where he chose to urinate all over the floor.
His brother woke up and screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”, waking up his parents in the process. They rushed into the room, switched the light on and saw S standing in a puddle of urine with vomit dribbling down his chin and still holding his todger.
Needless to say, I didn’t see S for two days; neither of us felt well enough to hang out.
I very nearly became tee-total after that. I went to the pub with S and other mates a week or two late and they howled with laughter as they heard our stories.
I drank coke for six months before I plucked up the courage to try lager and lime once more.
I have been drunk since then (obviously) but that first time sticks in my memory because it was so painful.
I have learned my lesson, albeit slowly but have never since been in a situation where I cannot remember getting home. There have always been flashes of memory and the beer scooter has always been there for me.
I often wonder what would have happened had I become teetotal. I have encountered many people who don’t drink because of incidents with alcohol and based on that first experience I can’t say that I blame them.
Common sense now prevails and apart from a few lapses in judgement I tend not to go overboard any more.
Besides, at my age, even the mildest hangovers last for days and it takes a relatively small quantity to spark one into existence.
Added to that I simply cannot take the pain any more.
What a sorry old git I am.