Monday, March 26, 2007

The Ages of Drinking


I had a bit of a messy evening on Friday , one of those occasions when you really are not sure if you behaved unforgivably badly or not . The best I can say is that I think I got away with it . On Saturday I felt old .In pleasant melancholy I constructed the whimsy that ones life is marked with period of alcohol enhanced reality , they lubricate transitions from one age to another. Is this why on so many occasions I have read the name Armitage Shanks ,wobbling gently from one foot to another .

The first drink I can remember was at Christmas . It is another time and another me , my Auntie Gwen was still alive and we were all at there semi in St. Albans . I must have been seven or eight . My father was still ascending at Lloyds and all my cousins were around with their gifts and the gaudiest baubled tree in the word . Its long echoey tunnel to such a memory and it may not comeback to me as it was . I think , I had a snowball and I thought it wonderful .There were glowing faces laughing at me getting it up my nose, and I was a full or bubbles as the sweet drink I lapped like puppy. To think that was thirty five years ago if. . There is always something of a hermetically sealed quality to any Christmas ;its almost out of time .
Then some years later we are in the Elephant and Castle . near Wheat Hampstead in Hertfordshire and I must have been thirteen or so . My father , brother and I are in the garden and dad has quietly bought me a beer. I disliked the taste . I couldn’t see the point of it at all , it was bitter and tasted , if of anything , like rust . .I said something like ,“ Why does everyone like drinking this so much I mean , it doesn’t taste nice at all,”. My father assured me that I would come round to the idea.
Do we always remember our youth as full of sunshine ? I remember gold and green and half closing my eyes so I could almost look straight at the sun and feeling its heat on my face
At sixteen I was not exactly a hardened drinker but I was getting there . There were seven or eight of us and we had been to the civic disco and then rushed around the Town getting drunker and drunker. There was a sort of uncaring lust for experience ,that drove everyone on and the game became who could go the furthest . I wasn’t the ring leader and in fact I was slightly an outsider ..somewhat un-cool , so I had to go as far as anyone . I smashed a few windows with the others ,and after each adventure on someone’s part ,the shout would go up “Run Away “,… “ Run Away” which got funnier and funnier. We were running and shouting so hard that the sweat was a sheen my face and the streets were like dark rivers you just had to thrown yourself into .What would a party of indestructible gods do next but run along the roofs of a street of cars. Then the Police van pulled up alongside us
A few months later we were handed fines at juvenile court which our parents were obliged to pay. By the time I met the rest for a meeting with our Solicitor I had already been expelled from school and we all laughed about that as well. There is always laughing when you are drinking isn’t there .
I was at University and in uncontrollable lust with a girl called Phillipa . . I had a car that I had persuaded my mother to lend me ,and the two of us went to stay in a B and B in Cirencester . It was sunny again and we spent a lot of time in the chocolate box hills , and a lot of time inside . I drove to a club from which I emerged from so drunk that I could not see .Trying to get back there were three roads at any point I might choose to take and the police spotted me because I was on the pavement going to wrong way up a one way street at about three miles an hour . By this time I was onto spirits and I was literally fighting drunk in the Police station I could only think of Philipa who , it turned out ,was only seeing me to make someone else jealous . …I felt so lost when I found out ,I was sick for weeks , actually physically sick . Imagine loving someone like that ,just someone you liked the look of ....strange

In my thirties , I was in the City and had been there for a while . I had already been married once and this me has little in common with the student of the child . We went to the Capricorn where “ Business’” is transacted between men and women . My boss came over and said ,” Look I’ve got four girls come on lets go“.I have never been keen on prostitutes The truth is , I am terrified of catching anything , and at that time AIDS was much in the news .. Still along I went and I was left with one of the girls ,a leggy African woman about twenty who pulled my suit off as I collapsed on the bed . We had been drinking solidly for about twelve hours and as I look around I hardly recognised myself or the world .There had been was smiles and flickering lights in a dark warm places and here I was on a small white bed in room with the wallpaper coming off . I think I was sobering up …and in any case had little interest in the girl . I suddenly decided to go home . She was so mad she threw my shoes out window and chased me into the street hitting me with a stiletto . It was raining and in my socks I learnt the meaning of the word scamper.

Then there as the time my wife and I went to Windsor and spent the afternoon writing our novel and planning what we would do with the money. Or in Harry’s bar in Paris feeling cool or even the night when we met in The East India Fenchurch Street.

I `m lucky really , I haven’t come to irretrievable harm, although it has been close and I can’t honestly say I would have missed it all. For all the dangers and delusive euphoria there is a truth in drunkenness and to this day I find it hard to trust a man who doesn’t drink. What could he really know about anything . To be a young man and alive and laughing at everything is worth a lot.As a frienf of mine use to say

" Are you here for a good time ..or just a long time ! "

11 comments:

mutleythedog said...

What an interesting range of drinking experiences - I for one - am glad you are still alive. We should meet up with Ken and Tony one night for a few beers!

Newmania said...

Oh they get a lot more ineteresting than that Mutley ..its nice of you to bother having a look really .

David Allen said...

N, you have the soul of a poet! You make delinquency sound quite lyrical.

Newmania said...

...you see my cunning plan david .

electro-kevin said...

I threw up over the Med Students' bar at St Bartholomews once.

Newmania said...

Good work Kev ...! Must have improved the place no end.

electro-kevin said...

It was an illegal bar and I think I was the only person to have been ejected from it in years.

Ellee said...

I see you wrote this at 1am, that's the time we dwell on those memories from the past, our ghosts resurface.

This post sounds reads a bit like a Ms Smack story, just as entertaining.

Now tell me about this book you are writing with your wife. And what happened to wife No 1? Are you going to publish your book on your blog? That's what you should be doing, you might find a publisher, like wifey.

Been frantically busy all day and my week is much the same.

Newmania said...

I wonder if thats an idea Ellee we had an idea for a children`s book, It was set in the late Victorian period and two children solve the mysteries their bumbling florid and rather dim uncle takes the credit for as a " Famous detective "

We had rather a good plot actualy .

No wifety knew people , I know a couple of people similiarly connected and it works that way really . That why so many dreadful books are published . I like wifey though she is interesting if a bit twee. She infuriates Phillipa who has had some real things to compnain about

Ellee said...

Well you know wifey now, in a manner of speaking, so that should open a few doors for you.

Can you translate this comment which was just left on my blog, I can't even identify the language, it's not a poem, is it?

"hutkqpl anrpwseo tkmhd bjnrzgetu gjflyi yueank yrgfsboqp"

Newmania said...

Wow ,feel the love Ellee, look at all the people that like you !

Yes that is Finnish and means

"Your words fall on my uptuned face like the urine of my reindeer that warms and keeps me safe"


? ....not

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