Friday, September 15, 2006

Mirth and Woe: The Drugs Do Work

The Drugs Do Work

I have mentioned on these pages in the past that drugs have absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. I am doomed - or blessed, whatever your perspective - to watch as friends get utterly off their faces on recreational substances whilst I remain as sober as a bishop. A bishop that doesn't take honking great swigs off the communion wine. I am possibly the only person in the world that goes slower on speed. I'm wired up wrong, and the guarantee's run out.

However, dose me up on proper prescription drugs signed off by a doctor and bought from a real, live chemist - as opposed to a blob of black crap wrapped in cling-film from some geezer called "Steve" - then there is only one outcome: woe.

Take, for example, the time I would rather forget at the age of 14, some time in the summer of 1980. We went, as a family, to visit incredibly posh friends at their huge house somewhere is deepest Hampshire. My recollections on this front are sketchy, but I believe it may have been one of my father's work colleagues, and I am afraid that actual money-earning promotions and important social interactions may have hinged on this particular visit.

I had, take pity, recently recovered from some hideous virus that had left me looking red, blotchy and swollen. The doctor had prescribed penicillin, and after that had left me yellow, blotchy and swollen, I was switched to something less dreadful.

The new drugs came with a warning: avoid operating machinery, alcohol. As if that was going to be a problem. After all, at the age of fourteen, the chances of my getting arseholed and attempting to drive home were this: zero. Less than zero, in fact.

Inevitably, as this sort of occasion dictates, lunch was a full-blown al fresco affair on the croquet lawn, and, forgetting the dread warnings from genuine medical professionals, I, and the other children in our party, were allowed wine. Woe.

I went absolutely ape-shit bonkers.

My recollections of subsequent events are understandably hazy, but contemporary witness reports state that my behaviour became "increasingly raucous, foul-mouthed and leering", which being not entirely different from my usual behaviour as an adult, was not the kind of thing you'd expect from a quiet, sensitive young teen.

The rubicon was crossed when I was caught red-handed staring down the voluminous cleavage of our host's young wife, who might, these days, be referred to as a "Yummy Mummy". The clincher, I am afraid to say, was the Sid James style 'Phwoooooar' that involuntarily escaped my lips as the booze swum around my head, and the only dry land I could make out was the sweet, sweet pink valley of her cleavage.

"Scary! Get to the car!" said my mother, meaning it.

So I did, and I sat, sulking, disgraced and feeling awful in the back seat of the car on a stranger's drive for the best part of two hours, whilst everybody else had the most charming of times.

Bored stupid, not entirely sane and wishing I was somewhere else entirely, I suddenly realised I had the power to make this a reality. I had been packed off to the car along with the car keys, and told not to show my face again until it was time to go home.

So: I would go home. I'd seen people drive. Good Lord, I had even driven motorised Go-Karts on a race track. How difficult could it be?

Very, it turned out.

I put the key in the ignition, waggled the gear stick a couple of times, just like I'd seen my mother doing whenever she had her lead boots on, and turned the key.


Handily, the car had been left in gear, and three-quarters of a ton of Renault 18 lurched up the driveway towards the participants of a game of croquet. John Prescott would have been so proud.

Once again, my recollections of the following events are particularly unclear, but I was dragged from the car like an IRA knee-capping victim and chastised most roundly as Mrs Hostess's perfect peaches flitted across my field of view once again.

Then I was sick in a hedge.

I don't know, but I might still have been in which a chance even at that late stage in the day.

The next day, my mother read aloud from my medicine bottle: "Avoid operating machinery, alcohol."

And then: "Oh."

How we laughed and laughed.

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