… for cheese* and other medicinal foodstuffs purloined from the vomity bucket of hangover cures. Before the onset of slow death that is hitting forty, all manner of voodoo and superstition acted as a crutch to prop up a crippling hangover. The experience, that comes with a holistic approach to liver failure, has subsequently proved that the the efficacy of the emperors’ new clothes pales when compared to the sure fire approach of not drinking the night before.
Sadly this option wasn’t available to me. Firstly I was suffering from the kind of bottomless depression that only the phrase”for the next two days I’ll be in Reading” can engender. Secondly our hotel greeted each guest with “Welcome to the Renaissance Reading, where the local time is 1973“. Rarely has the price of something so completely failed to reflect its’ value. And I’m including boutique bike accessories, strippers and council tax in that list.
The whole Life On Mars experience extended from the tired frontage, unlit reception, wheezy lifts and a room last decorated during the Silver Jubilee. The wallpaper was peeling flock, the bed an unpleasant blend of threadbare sheets and groaning springs. And don’t get me started on the bathroom where a nascent civilisation – homed in mildewed grout – was about ready to explore the world.
Apparently there was an executive floor but a brief inspection of a friend’s room showed little for the cream of business to be cheered over other than slightly less flocked wallpaper**. What awaited in the ‘Presidential Suite” can only be vaguely imagined – but even the Malawi Head Of State would surely have taken one horrified look before swiftly booking his entourage into the Holiday Inn opposite.
It may be unsurprising to hear that events from this point perfectly plotted the spiraling narrative of “Right who’s up for a whiskey chaser to get us started” through “A club? After forty seven bottles of wine? Spirited idea” and plummeting further downwards via “Yep, another double vodka red bull for me” and “What do you mean we can’t get another drink? It’s barely 2am?”
Forty is not a good age to start experimenting with youthful alcopops. Especially ones stuffed full of caffeine and industrial strength alcohol. You’ll laugh at this – oh I know I did – my rationale for drinking deep from the bonkers mixers chalice was because starting on lager might give me a hangover. What kind of crazed nutter first mixed Red Bull with Vodka anyway? Had they tried Crystal Meth fused with laudanum and felt it was missing a bit of a kick?
So drunken and spiked with sufficient caffeine to stimulate a person long dead, the remainder of the night passed in drunken channel roaming and occasional groans. The upside was I forgot to be miserable about staying in Reading’s equivalent to Alcatraz – however this was of little measure when the grizzly combination of an absolutely bastard hangover and two hours sleep played out during the following day.
The final irony in all this, is my consumption of hop and grape has taken a steep nose dive lately. I seemed to have collapsed a month’s drinking into about three evenings of serial debauchery. Maybe it’s time to reinstate lager for breakfast.
* From “Top Bun” which, when dealing with a hangover sharp enough to shave with, is best filled with greasy bacon and lashings of brown sauce.
** I have been waiting to do that joke for ages. C’mon it was worth the wait.