My Eighteenth Birthday
On my eighteenth birthday my good friend Oz came round.
‘I haven’t bought you a present,’ he informed me.
‘Cheers, mate,’ I replied.
‘I’m going to take you on a pub crawl,’ he told me enthusiastically, taking a folded sheet of paper out of his pocket. ‘I’ve drawn up a route. We’re going to have a pint in each pub.’
I scanned the sheet. As there were twenty six pubs that seemed a little ambitious, but I was up for it.
When opening time came we were there at the door, downed our first pint and moved on.
Now I was a very fit, five foot six, rugby playing hooker who weighed a mere 120 lbs. Each pint virtually doubled my weight.
As the evening progressed we managed a mere twelve pubs. At the last one we decided there wasn’t time to go on to another so we finished up with a second pint and then I had this wish for a double gin and lime. That was unusual because I do not like gin and lime.
It was around midnight when we found ourselves out on the street again and I was overcome with a desire for a beef burger.
Now these were the days before even the questionable delights of McDonalds. All we had were the pale imitation of a Wimpy-burger. At that time they resembled a greasy slab of cardboard between two halves of a soggy bap. Yet this sounded as if it would hit the spot. I consumed two.
On the way home we did the customary business of walking along walls and climbing up lampposts, singing and cracking immensely funny jokes. Town was only a mile away from home but it took us three hours.
As my birthday is the end of May and it was still chilly my thoughtful mother had put my electric blanket on.
I was cleaning my teeth sitting on the edge of the bath when I fell in.
That seemed a good thing at the time. I could imagine telling Oz the next day that I had slept in the bath.
Anybody who has tried sleeping in a bath would soon discover that it is not as comfortable as it sounds. I woke up half an hour later cramped and cold and took myself off to bed.
By this time my bed resembled a furnace more than a sleeping place. But I was past caring. I crawled in and tried to get to sleep. I couldn’t. The sweat was dripping off my forehead.
Now in a normal state I might have thought that it was hot, perhaps remove the covers? But all I managed was the first the first part of that. I lay their under the covers sweltering. Then it all went horribly wrong. Every time I closed my eyes my head started spinning. I had to open my eyes and re-orientate myself. But I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
Then it got really bad. I found that even with my eyes open it wouldn’t stop spinning. I was in some cosmic spin drier. Then I started doing whale impersonations except it wasn’t brine I was projecting into the air. Luckily, though I was on my back, I didn’t breathe in and do a Jimi Hendrix.
The next morning I awoke in a congealed mess.
I had a splitting headache and, after a glass of water, many aspirins and a bath, took myself off to the park where I watched the old folk playing bowls and winced every time one ball hit another.
It took three days for the hang-over to wear off and I decided that alcohol could not be doing me any good if it made me feel as bad as that. I vowed never to drink again and didn’t for the next twelve years.