The third and final story is by far the worst. The result has left me slightly disfigured and I was quite close to putting a permanent full stop to this Guinness diet i had been on. Let this one be a warning to you. Know your limitations and never mix your drinks. It was one Thursday night, sixteenth of January 2002 to be precise. Christmas and all its revelries were a distant memory.
Christmas day, the first one without the kids around, had seen me drink so much in the four and a half hours after finishing work, that I passed out drunk at 8.30pm and not wake up until the early hours of boxing day. Phil and I had started our Christmas celebrations on the first of December and carried them all the way through to the second of January. Then we went back to the normal business of getting shitfaced after work. Nothing changed much just the Christmas excuse had to be replaced by a different reason for getting hammered. All night at work the question had been whether I was going to go to the pub, well I had decided earlier that I was not, and I was adamant. No I was not going to the pub, I had, had enough I wanted to spend a couple of weeks drying out plus I was skint and that was another good reason. I had intended to stay off the booze until pay day, and in the interim I would try to get my head straight over certain aspects of my life, with the help of my favourite herbal blend of Jamaican cigarette. I was due for another black mood to descend on me at any time soon, and this time I wanted to be within walking distance of my bed, not drunk in the middle of town like the one the previous October, that saw me spending 4 hours walking home.
Now what I call a black mood comes after a period of several months hard drinking. You are either ecstatically happily pissed all the time or too hung over to care about anything else, until one day your brain has just had enough, these mood could come over me in a matter of seconds, I could be laughing and joking one moment and screaming internally the next, all I could do from there was just to remove myself from human contact, weird. Anyway back to being skint as my excuse for not going to the pub, I do meander so, i know know these as to be bouts of depression.
“Get a tab then” Phil barked in his head cheffy kind of way
“No!” I barked back in a feeble kind of way
I was itching to go to the pub, money wasn’t an issue it was just an excuse. “I’m not going to the pub and that is final” I said with my last bit of intact self will. The end of service came and we were almost tidied down when Phil started again. This time he was more determined. He came out of the office and said………. “Here’s a fiver, one round, you’re coming“
“No!” I replied losing the battle with my demons
He chased me round the kitchen and threw the fiver at me.
“You’re coming whether I have to beat you into it or not”
Or to put it another way……. “You can come down the pub, or I can break your nose, drag you down the pub, then casualty”
I picked up the fiver and so began one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made for while or intend to make again. I would have been better off letting Phil beat me up! And what was about to happen was to end in casualty anyway, very perceptive is our Phil.
We got down to the pub at about 10.15pm and that’s when it all went tits up, we had had a few late lock-ins that week already 1.30am, 2.30am and a 2am, this was a late lock-in and then some. The landlord had been on holiday all week, the lad in charge was a mate of ours so while we kept paying, he kept serving, a combination to lead to a man’s ruin? No, but the pub was warm and my house was cold, I would have still been drinking at 2am this was just a different warmer location. The governments, at the time, worried that 24 hour opening will lead the nation to be alcoholics, well for all these do-gooders information, with the ability to buy cases of beer from shops, if I wanted to drink 24/7 I could, the pubs being open to do it in is not the problem, if you have the addictive nature you will be an addict if you don’t then you will live within moderation. Rant over.
When we got there we met a few friends, Jack, one of the other chefs from work who had given us a lift to the pub, stayed for one drink and left about 11ish. I spent my fiver on a couple of beers for Phil and I, and that was me tapped out. The pub emptied leaving just six of us drinking, the ale flowed, Elvis on the jukebox, my biggest weakness, beer and Elvis. At about one in the morning Phil reminded me I was on breakfast in five hours and still we stayed. At about 2am, out came my other weakness, tequila. Many pints of Guinness and umpteen tequila’s later I was well and truly pissed. At four o’clock just two hours before my next shift started, I thought it was about time to go home, but the doors were locked and nobody was allowed to leave until the ‘acting’ landlord said. So I decided to take a little stumble through to the other bar where I went to sleep for about twenty minutes on one of the sofas, the lights were out in there and it seemed a little cooler.
Eventually we were allowed to go at about 4.30; I dashed outside for a chunder, to call god on the great grass verge of life, to be sick. As my body tried in vain to rid its self of the poison I had ingested, it felt like I was trying to turn myself inside out, unlike some people I‘m not ones of those people who can throw up then feel ok again. So, I felt no better as I thought in horror of my breakfast shift which was to start in two hours, contrary to people ideas what was about to happen, it was not done just to avoid a torrid breakfast shift.
When I had finished evacuating my stomach, I stood up right and proud, took in a long breath of fresh, clean country air, with a slight vinegary acidic tone, and started the walk home, but before I could take just a single step I fell over. Now David Jason said the hardest thing he had to do was fall over in one episode of “only Fools and Horses” without putting his hands out to break his fall, as it’s the body’s natural instinct of protection to do so. Not true, with enough booze inside you it is quite possible, as I proved. Now I don’t remember the falling part, I guess I must just have passed out in mid step, the first recollection I have is that dull and sickening thud that reverberates around the inside of your skull when you give it a good and hard twat, and, well, I broke my fall with my face! Or, my nose primarily, and, as that flattened to my face, it was then the turn of my mouth and cheeks, then the nasal bone gave way. My initial reaction was “not another graze on my face“. Phil came and picked me up. I was more worried about the damage to the inside of my mouth while everyone else was concerned about my nose.
An ambulance was called and a return journey to casualty ensued, I was thinking about asking if they had a season ticket available, maybe giving me the chance to queue jump in future visits, or even just a loyalty card giving you points to use against future prescriptions, maybe?. Oh and by the way, at 5am in casualty the nurses were not very easily impressed or amused. I was still obviously pissed and my cracking jokes didn’t go down well at all with any of the staff on duty. It was quiet at that time of the morning so I was swiftly whisked into one of the curtained cubicles. I was checked over by the nurse, asking all those stupid questions as they do.
“What have you done”?
“How did it happen”?
She cleaned me up, told me I was going to need stitches Upon asking if they would hurt, she replied with a grin……….
I came out with the old chestnut….
“Will I be able to play the saxophone after this?”
“Yes, of course” was the stern reply.
“Oh good” I said.
“I never could before” I giggled.
Well I must have had enough anaesthetic still in my body as she gave me 5 stitches in the bridge of my nose and two inside my mouth, then with the help of another unamused nurse, glued the nostril back on to my face in two places and once to stick my top lip back together. I had also broken my nose and pushed the bone from the bridge of my nose into the brain sack. I did a real good job this time round. No half measures, although the fact that I am alive to tell the tale would suggest otherwise. I guess that’s where all the laughter came from; I had wanted to die so much since March 2002, now I had come the closest to achieving my wish, but in my inebriated incompetence, failed. Was this the powers that be sparing me to achieve greater things sometime in the future or just so he could taunt me some more?
At about 6.30am, I finally plucked up the courage to look at my face for the first time in the mirror, what a sight. My face around the eyes had started to swell; my mouth looked like I had had some real dodgy Katie Price style lip job, and from my forehead down to the chin was a mass off blood and gore. Well I just started to laugh, it was the first time I had seen the damage I had done, and all that was left to do was laugh. The nurses must have thought I was mad or had brain damage, or both, they kept looking in to check if I was ok. My laughter, considering what I had done must have seemed very odd.
Well it was not until the doctor came to talk me at ten in the morning, then I realized why they had kept me there for five hours, four of them after I was stitched and sorted. They were worried about what damage I had done to the brain and were observing me; the incessant laughter obviously did not help my cause. Even then they were reluctant to let me go but as I had already missed one shift and part of the next one I had to get back to work, much to the doctors horror. Here I have to say many thanks to Phil, firstly for doing my breakfast shift for me and secondly for coming to pick me up from the hospital, remember the only money I had was spent on the two drinks I bought that night. On my return to the pub Friday night I found I had a £20 tab.
Come the morning I could only open the left hand corner of my mouth just big enough to get a straw in to or a cigarette, and it takes ages to drink a pint of Guinness through a straw, trust me, I spent the best part of a week mastering a skill I hope to never use again. I also look like a reject from early Frankenstein’s experimental work, with two big black eyes I looked like a very skinny panda. Everyone’s first reaction was shock; Emily’s was one of abject terror, telling me that there was no way I was going to see the kids in this state. Although I did see them a couple of days later, and I felt a pang of guilt as they saw me and cried, but with my usual ill-advised wit, I told them I tripped over a bottle of tequila, well at least I didn’t tell them I had first dunk the contents.
These things I have done to myself are all part of life’s rich pattern, and this final story tells how close we are to death without ever knowing it. Three and a half years later I still have a scar inside my mouth, the three on my nose are very visible as is the one on my top lip. I have pulled a few times looking like this, so it’s not all bad. And as a result of the broken nose I have a lump on the bridge which holds my sunglasses on a real treat; every silver lining has a dark cloud. I had booked holiday previous to this night so I had only to work the Friday and Saturday then I was off for just over a week.
My main post fall worries were not to my health or looks, it was whether I would have a psychological block to Tequila. So, as with the old saying of falling off the horse I decided the only course of action was to get back on. As soon as my mouth had healed and I was able to knock back a shot I bought a bottle of tequila and a couple of lemons.
I sat on the uncomfortable blue sofa, cracked the top, and began to pour a golden glass of spirit. I cut the lemon in to wedges, picked one up in my right hand, lick the back of that hand and administered a light sprinkle of salt. Then with a trembling left hand I slowly raised the glass, licked of the salt, knocked back the spirit and just as I had thought I would, I gagged and spat the lot back in a chocking to death kind of way. I was determined not to leave it there, so I poured a second glass, re-salted my hand and began again. The second shot followed the course of the first. Once again I followed the motion of the first two. Now, my mouth was lined with a fine coating of Mexico’s beloved export, I was trapped between the sensual feel of cactus juice thrilling my soul, and my ever more nagging brain in ex-wife mode saying…..
“Remember what happened last time”
But I was going to bite back, throw these past life shackle from me and be reborn. This time the third shot sailed down the back of my throat like a glass full of angel’s tears, and I finished with sucking the life out of the lemon wedge. I then moved on to put quite a dent in the rest of the bottle, and my Tequila lust was back.