The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Drunk

A recent survey among readers of this blog showed that 98% of you would recommend it to your friends*. Good show!

*Survey conducted among fifty readers who were asked the question, “Would you recommend this blog to your friends if the alternative was having every orifice stuffed with broken glass?” Of those who answered, one already had every orifice stuffed with broken glass and said he “quite like[s] it.”

I have something of a Reputation when it comes to alcohol, a reputation which I think is actually largely unjustified. It’s true that I enjoy a drink or two, and often more, but strictly under social circumstances. Remember, kids, it’s not cool to get drunk for the sake of it and if you’re being sick, you’re not having fun. Unless you manage to hit someone you hate, in which case good for you.

Last night, Shoinan and I managed to meet up for the first time in, I don’t know, fifteen years or something? Wait, we shared a flat until last November, so it can’t have been that long. Anyway, we finally managed to find a day that we could both make and headed to the Chandos in Charing Cross, a pub I may have bigged up in the past.chandos

It’s a favourite of ours, because it’s old-fashioned but not scuzzy, respectable but not pretentious and cheap but not a Wetherspoon’s. Everyone knows it, it’s easy to get to and the clientele is a broad cross-section of London society. There’s no music (which I would imagine, with performance fees and all, is partly why drinks are so cheap) and the service is fast, so it’s a fine place to talk toot for an evening. We like it.

Unfortunately, I got confused over the time (not helped by the fact that I’d forgotten my phone, as seems to be my habit on nights when I’m supposed to be meeting people). My Reputation stems from the fact that I can drink really quickly. Not intentionally, not as some sort of macho party trick, I just have this tendency to drain a pint glass really quickly. Which meant, with half an hour to go before we’d agreed to meet, I managed to get a two-pint head start. Not entirely wise, given that I’ve been pretty dry recently and thus become a huge lightweight. Also, a dude standing on his own in a bar knocking back beer like it wuz water and reading Iceberg Slim’s autobiography is not the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen.

Anyway, Shoinan arrived and we performed the mandatory bro-hug and chilled. Much alcohol was drunk, much toot was talked, and at about 10 Shoinan suggested we move on to another pub. The tiny, sensible homunculus that lives in my brain and only appears when I’m drunk warned me that it would be unwise to continue drinking and to stay out late when tomorrow is work, but I rarely listen to that guy.

And so we ended up at the Crown in Soho, surrounded by Dutch people in rainbow-trimmed overalls. I recall discoursing vaguely on the work of Antonio Salieri in response to a drunken chant by said Dutch folk, and we eventually staggered back to the Tube – we were somewhat disappointed to see that our Dutch friends were heading in a different direction.

I stumbled home, but not before getting a kebab at the terrorist kebab shop in Tooting. There is no middle ground with kebabs. They’re either a really bad idea or, after a few pints, a really good idea. I am not the first person to make this observation.

Now, let me tell you that I have experience of hangovers. I’ve nearly had an ambulance called for me before now. I’ve had hangovers to turn bad little boys good. I’ve had hangovers like Krakatoa’s in town looking for the sumbitch who talked trash about his momma. Yet I never seem to learn.

First of all, I never seem to learn that hangovers are deceptive. You don’t know the full extent of your hangover until you wake up. Only then can you decide whether to go into work. The ultimate test is the Tube – if I can get down to platform level and stand in a stuffy, crowded tunnel without my throat surging upwards, I’m well enough for work. Fortunately, I hadn’t mentioned my night out to any colleagues the previous day, so my “recovering from a migraine” excuse for looking pallid and shaky might just hold water.

There are few worse experiences outside of an actual warzone worse than being in work hungover. Your body wants nothing more than to lie down and only get up for the occasional purging session, and there you are forcing it to act like it’s a weekday, you selfish bastard. In my case, I tend to also get a massively raised body temperature, which means that I can be sitting directly next to an open window with the wind blowing directly at me and I’ll still be too hot. Except that I can’t be sitting directly next to an open window, because my colleagues, being sensible enough not to get hammered on Tuesday, would get cold. So in practice I just sit there and sweat and make the occasional hurried toilet visit.

There is one plus. No matter how crowded the Tube gets, a shaking, chalk-white dude, pouring with sweat and with bloodshot eyes will always get some space to himself. Result, I supppose.

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Filed under Booze, London Underground, Rambling on and on

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