Mirth and Woe: The Morning After
One of my more recent stories tells the grim tale of a grown-up party in our Twyford home.
As kids, we were banished upstairs and away from the action, sneaking down to wreak drunken, vomit-laden revenge in the only way we knew how. Mostly by getting drunk and bowking rich, brown vomit all over the house, guests and dog.
It was not, in retrospect, my finest hour. Just par for the course, to be honest.
The story of that particular party - marking, I think, my old dad's fortieth birthday - did not reach a conclusion with my hurling partially digested Watney's Party Seven and vol-au-vents all over the guests' coats. Alas, there was more.
"I've never been so embarrassed in my life," said my mum, as she mopped up chunder with a reeking cloth and squeezing it into a bucket, all the time trying not to get it down the front of her best party frock.
This was clearly untrue. We, as her offspring, had embarrassed her far worse than that, not least in an unfortunate incident during a day-trip to the Natural History Museum which resulted in our being dragged out by our ears and driven by taxi all the way to Hammersmith, just to put some distance between us and aggrieved museum staff.
We were merely getting warmed up for a long weekend of embarrassment and awful, awful behaviour.
The party, even as we tried to sleep off our boozy excesses - kept going well into the wee small hours with increasingly boisterous singing of songs about a "Stupid Dicky-Di-Dildo" coming from downstairs.
Confined to our rooms, there was nothing we could do about it, except to appear in the living room, clutching a teddy and looking wan in the hope they might get the message. They did not.
Morning came, and at the unearthly hour of lunchtime, I was the first to emerge, nursing a minor pre-teen hangover. Only one thing for it - hair of the dog.
Luckily, there was plenty of hair for this particular dog, as the booze lay where it fell, and joy of joy - a hardly touched Party Seven at room temperature. And the jackpot - half a bottle of Martini. And several half finished gin-and-tonics. And something that was probably whisky. And lots of vodka. And three cans of cooking lager. And enough crisps, biscuits and cake things to feed a small, drunken army.
The Party Seven, if you didn't know, was a bloody huge tin of beer that held seven pints of Watney's fizziest piss. The clue is in the name - you were supposed to share it. I don't think many people actually did.
After studying my bounty for a while, I decided that my breakfast/lunch would be this: all of it. But, charitable fellow that I am, I left some over for my brother. It would have been rude not to.
At this point, dear reader, I imagine you are expecting me to tell you that I got as drunk as a little beetle. No. I did not. Pacing myself like a pro, I remained strangely sober, with the Sainsbury's own-brand pretzels soaking up the worst of the booze.
Vodka has always had a strange effect on me. I can put away gallons of the stuff and not display a single trace of inebriation. Give it five or six hours, however, and BLAM - drunk as a skunk's very drunk skunky friend.
"La lala la la laa la la you're me best friend hic la la laaa!"
Unfortunately, these five-or-six-hours-later coincided with a visit to polite company - good friends who were the principal guests at the soiree of the previous day.
I still remember clearly the exact moment I went from relatively normal eleven-year-old lad to raving, foul-mouthed drunk. It was as their front door swung open, and the smell of spicy cooking flew up my nostrils.
"I don't feel..."
And then I was sick inna hedge.
Actually, only a bit of it went into a hedge.
The rest showered over the threshold, over Maureen's best slippers, across the parquet flooring and decorated the side of their tropical fish tank. Tropical fish, as a rule, do not react well to vodka-laden vomit, so there was a certain amount of excitement and threats to my wilting body.
"Scary. Home. Now."
I trudged home, the sorry, zig-zig walk of the utterly pissed, stopping only to fill another hedge with the contents of my stomach and to follow through in my second best trousers.
Luckily, there was still vodka and Party Seven left when I got home to a darkened house. Result.