Stagging it Up

Human nature is not all weakness.  It has its strong points also.

– Sermon XIV: Sources of Moral Weakness and Moral Strength, Henry Ware Jr, 1847

Went to London for Andy’s stag do.  I got carried away and starting drinking early and lots.  While the Stag retained an element of composure and control, I was the one having one over the eight.  A casual observer would think that I was the one enjoying my last night of freedom.  The next day I woke up very pleased to find my phone, passport, wallet and keys all intact.  Unfortunately I had not been able to maintain my four-year unbeaten run of not throwing up, and in spectacular fashion, over the white futon mattress a kindly soul had lent me.  The vomit had arrived without warning, as I turned off the light and collapsed into my bed.  I think the futon was a lot lower than I expected.

Drunk as a Lord, I scooped up the main body of the sick and went to sleep.  Early next morning I grabbed a sponge and made a better job of it, making several trips back and forth between the futon and the kitchen sink for hot water and fairy liquid.  The sick was of a bad type, very dark and chunky.  What was in there anyway? I hadn’t had anything to eat all night!

I’ll never forget the time when I chucked up a thick ball of vomit the exact consistency and size of a pizza dough.  Like plasticine it could be moulded and shaped but left no marks.  I was stunned.  If all sick was like that we wouldn’t have such a hard time cleaning it up.

I did the best job I could with the white futon but frankly it looked a mess.  Staring at the laminated floor I felt sad that I could not have been sick over that instead, it would have been very easy to clean up.  But like I said it was an instantaneous hurl, a surprise attack.  I didn’t feel sick beforehand, never even thought about being sick, I had a four year record.  Also there was no way I could have contained the sick orally while I ran to the toilet.

So that stained futon was the one sticky finger that reached through time from Saturday night to Sunday morning to bring me down with guilt and displeasure.  Oh and also I lost a pad from my glasses but I have a spare one of those.  It could have been worse.  I almost got into a fight apparently, which is uncharacteristic of me. 

I turned the mattress over and slept a bit longer.  When my host woke me I decided not to tell him straight away.  After breakfast I shoved £20 into his pocket and explained what had happened, leaving him to decide whether to get a new futon or clean the current one, as I shook his hand, thanked him for his kind hospitality, said ‘nice to meet you’ and made my way to London Bridge tube station.

Its amazing how much money you can spend drinking.  My friend Joey Chickenskin doesn’t drink at all so he saves money, retains his health and doesn’t embarass himself getting into fights or throwing up over somebody’s sofa.  He’s an outgoing guy and doesn’t need booze to oil the mechanism of social interaction.  Thats an inspiration I’m going to be inspired by.  But of course I really like booze.  Even if I cut back I would always enjoy wine with dinner.  I often crave the cool wheaty fizziness of beer and more days that not I will answer that craving in the affirmative.  I drink less than others and more than some.  I struggle with this because I want to be productive everyday, and have a list of things to do everyday, and I know that drinking is double jeopardy, because it makes you less able to do things right now and less able to do things tomorrow.  Drinking robs time from you and dilutes the quality of your sleep.  But after a long working day, when your mind and body have been performing for hours, is it wrong to sink a beer, to blunt the sharp receptors of your brain, to gently stupeify yourself, to let the hands of the clock that you have watched move so gratingly slowly for hours now relax like you and tumble forward over themselves?  How can it be wrong?  When it feels so right? …But then you have another one, and another and at some point it stopped being a good idea and became a bad idea, for all the reasons I don’t need to go into now.  It is a wise man who recognises where the turning point is, and denies the culture where one drink follows another like words on a page.

Intellectually, the mind is clear, bright, quick, when a prudent moderation has left the courses of life unclogged; but is heavy, stupid, incapacitated, when the salutary measure has been overstepped.  And so universally.  All excess debilitates.  Even excessive thought enfeebles the mind; and the anxious or ambitious scholar has sometimes studied himself into incapacity; and the overwrought religionist has been known to sink away from the rapturous insanity of fanaticism, to the dull monotony of idocy.  There is no true strength but in him who has self-control, and that is moderation; a perpetual and watchful restraint upon the feelings, emotions, appetite, speech, demeanor – so that nothing shall be done thoughtlessly, and the man shall always know whether or not he transgresses the rules of duty, decorum and kindness.

Visiting the brewery of a stately home it was explained to me the origin of the phrase ‘one over the eight’.  In times gone by, workers of the estate, which was not located near a natural spring, were refreshed not by water or tea but in ‘small beer’ – the weaker beer produced when malt is used a second time.  Each worker had an allowance of eight pints per day.  The man not practicing Henry Ware’s ‘prudent moderation’ would be said to have had ‘one over the eight’.

One over the eight

One over the eight

I read somewhere that drinking a little alcohol the day after a binge helps the body process the toxins flying around inside.  So I drink my last two Budweisers, give myself the night off and look forward to a day of cash poker tomorrow.


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One Response to “Stagging it Up”

  1. Paul Walker Says:

    Hi Joe, Could you forward me an address so that I can post you a cd. Thanks, Paul

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