Monday, 20 November 2017

Wuthering Drunks

To all who I once loved, and who once loved me. I still love you. I mourn and I grieve for the ones I have lost.
I've had a funny relationship with alcohol, by which I mean I'm not convinced I like it very much. I've been drunk, good and roaring drunk, once in the last twenty or so years. It was great fun.

The trouble is that I don't like being a bit drunk, my head gets a bit slippy-slidy and my stomach complains. Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to get from sober to very drunk without going through the "a bit drunk" phase. I usually try and pace myself so I don't get too drunk and end up not-very-drunk-at-all. Which isn't so bad.

The time I managed to get roaring drunk was at a conference social gathering in Poland. I was with friends but I wasn't feeling very sociable. The conference organisers had laid on drinks, which mostly meant vodka. The Polish like vodka. They were serving it in shots with a dollop of raspberry coulis at the bottom, so after knocking back the shot the last taste on your tongue is a lovely raspberry taste. A high enough dose consumed quickly enough is in fact the way you go from sober to roaring drunk without going through the "a bit drunk" phase.

After that I roared around town with some friends and rolled into bed around four in the morning. The next day I was speaking at the conference in the morning. I remember trying to sleep at the back of the talk before mine. I also remember walking up to the front of the conference room desperately trying to get my laptop in some vague kind of order as I was about to start my talk. I have no recollection of how the talk went.

The very first time I got drunk was at the age of seventeen when I was in sixth form. I was on an English trip to Haworth, Bronte country in the Yorkshire moors. We were studying Wuthering Heights and the moors wuthered appropriately as we walked across them. On the first evening myself and about fifteen young women went and found a pub. As a general rule the further north you get the friendlier people get. Right up until Scotland as the Romans discovered, which is why we have Hadrian's wall. I was very surprised by how friendly the greeting was from the locals when we arrived at the pub, leaving me with such a good impression of the Yorkshire community. It was only many years later that it occurred to me that maybe the men in the pub were particularly friendly to us because about fifteen seventeen year old girls (and me) had just walked into the pub.

I drank what seemed like vast quantities of malibu and pineapple which the girls introduced me to, most being more proficient drinkers than I. It's a drink I'm fond of to this day. After getting pleasantly drunk together we walked back to the youth hostel arm in arm.

The second time I got drunk was the only time I've been blind drunk. Alas the many times I got drunk at college I could always remember in all too clear detail exactly what I'd done. Blackouts would have been a mercy. As well as downing a pint of wine, slower than my friend unfortunately, I also drank whisky and cider mixed together. It's about as pleasant as you might imagine and it was many years before I could bear cider again.

I've struggled to appreciate whisky for decades now. Scotch always tasted burny and medicinal, but many of my good friends whom I respect appreciate it so I kept trying. And failing. I finally found a way in via bourbon, which is like scotch except for the not tasting like poison part. And now my repertoire has extended a bit, I've found non-peaty scotch that I can bear and I'm fond of Irish whisky. So there you go. I can almost say I like whisky now.



Car conversation.
Me: looking at traffic and quoting Kurt Vonnegut, there's too many of us and we're too far apart. 
Delia: it's true, we're all so separated by our own stories. 
Me: the trick is to tell your story, then the stories mix.

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