I’m recovering as I write this, from something that becomes more traumatising the older you get. The hangover. Or at least that’s when I started writing it, then I had to have a little nap and forgot about it for a few days. Also why are they called hangovers, if they were a literal hangover from the night before they’d be a lot more fun, and we’d all look fabulous.
I realise I usually glamourise drinking, which is very bad of me. But with my global readership of about 50 people I think I can take the risk.
I don’t have a problem, I often go a few weeks without touching a drop. But I am definitely a classic English binge drinker. Is that better or worse than a couple of glasses every night? Obviously the best idea is to give it up entirely. But I just don’t want to, and oh my god how much do I want a cocktail in a busy bar right now! FU Corona!
Your body in your teens and early 20s is a bloody miracle. Youth isn’t wasted on the young, everyone deserves a turn. But you just wish you’d appreciated it more.
I got drunk for the first time just before my 16th Birthday, at a friends 16th. I thought I was so sophisticated as I had swiped a bottle of Martini vermouth from my parents drinks cabinet, but then proceeded to drink it out of a plastic pint glass mixed with lemonade. Classy!
It didn’t end well. I’m a well known puker, too much alcohol, too much food, long car trips, boat trips, any spinny fairground rides, always ends the same way for me.
I never did do the whole drunk in the park, or hanging out on street corners thing (too cold). I was lucky I had friends with amazing understanding Mums who sensibly believed that it was better for you to be getting up to no good in their house than out and about. 25 years ago it was also incredibly easy as a girl to pretend to be 18 and get in to country pubs and crappy regional nightclubs.
But the teenage body of your average 18 year old is also an amazing thing. When I ate it was mainly toast and Marsbars, and I could head to a party slam half a bottle of Jack Daniels be incredibly drunk for a bit, then head home sober. Sleep in, wake up fresh.
Then you hit your 20s and on the whole you’re still fine. But you have responsibilities, jobs to go to and rent to pay. You can still go out and drink, but need to cut yourself off and be tucked up in bed by at least 3am, then a can of full fat coke for breakfast and you’ll be fine.
Then in your late 20s things start changing, it’s harder to get out of bed. At this point there is a fear that when squeezing on to the tube in the morning that if it gets too hot or someone decides to eat something disgusting you may actually vomit on that train. (for anyone English I am particularly referring to the Ginsters Pasty. This has happened to me and I only just held on to my breakfast, the thought of the smell of beef and onion at 7am on a hot train is possibly the reason I don’t eat red meat or onions if I can possibly avoid them).
You think these hangovers are bad, you laugh with your friends about how you used to be able to drink so much more over lunch time pizzas and coke. But you have no idea what’s coming.
The hangovers of your 30s are strange things. You never know quite when they are going to strike. You definitely have better preparation in place, you hydrate, eat a decent amount of carbs to soak up at least some of the booze. Because of this you can sometimes get away with it. You can be surprisingly fine, a whole day drinking and the following morning you open your eyes take some basic test steps to the bathroom and other then being a bit thirsty and tired you are all good.
But you need to be careful, is it a creeper? Will you feel fine all morning and then early afternoon the monster will awaken and knock you out for the rest of the day.
Or are we talking full blown head pounding, mouth like the Sahara, possibly still drunk, the rooms spins if you try and move your head morning afters. These are the two day hangovers. These are the days you swear to never drink again, why would you, It’s a stupid idea. Until the next invite, weekend, two for one happy hour deal, free shot from the barman (always beware the tiny drinks!). We are our own worst enemies.
So here I am in my 40s. I would love to tell you I’ve grown out of all of this, but I am still an absolute liability. 9 times out of 10 I stop drinking at the correct time. But that 10th time, oh god.
I still don’t drink every night so I will never be used to it. But all I can do is thank those friends, you know who you all are, who have always got me home in one piece. I know I’ve done the same for a few of you, but the scales are definitely tipped in my favour.
It’s what all sensible parents who know you are going to drink teach you as a kid as you embark on this fun life journey, always stick with your friends when you’re out, and take care of each other.
And to a very special couple of friends, thanks for not throwing me over that hedge in Vegas, I’m eternally grateful x