"Put me in a vacuum"


On Hangovers

Hangovers are not Nature's way of reminding you that you had too much to drink the night before. They are Nature's way of chiding you for a) not drinking a pint of water before you went to bed and b) not staying in bed until the feeling of being rank blancmange passes.


"I feel like a pig shat in my head".

- Withnail, 'Withnail and I'


My Top Five Things Not To Do When I Have A Hangover

Pretend that a good walk in the country will improve my constitution. It doesn't. It turns me into a ranting, sweaty mess. I ooze raw ethanol and a strange dusty spice from the bhaji I don't even remember buying, never mind eating.

Go into the office. Staring into two PC screens, I swear that Excel starts to blur before rushing past my eyes in a Matrix-ish fashion. Then flashes subliminal messages at me, like "go sleep in the post room" and "you are liver pâté in human form".

Go to the pub. A pint would be good. But the attendant misery of Other People, especially Happy Other People, Happy Other People Who Don't Feel Like Shit Warmed Up, takes the shine right off.

Housework. It should feel like putting a big tick in the positive column of my Life Ledger. Instead, it leads to broken glasses, the contents of my wallet being sucked up the vacuum and ten minutes of running water as I try to wash the Flash polish out of my eyes.

Sudoku. A way of kick-starting my brain into cogent thought? No. It just takes the piss that, in this febrile state, I can't even write numbers in boxes.


"Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning.

The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.

He felt bad".

- 'Lucky Jim', Kingsley Amis


My Favourite Hangover

Stafford, late 1980's. The walk into town from my polytechnic digs - a condemned tower block - was a four mile ramble. The local Spar sold Thunderbird wine. The bottle had to be finished before we got to the Student Union. Where beer was cheap, but pints of snakebite, vodka and black was the melt-the-plastic-glass drink of choice.

There were bottles of Dog at the Bird In Hand whilst we played pool. More Dog and a few Burtons at the Railway. Plus port & brandy.

And then...

... the knee-high mud on my trousers suggested that we tried the short-cut home across Doxey Marshes. The crate of Dog suggested that Kelvin at the Railway had sold us more beer than we could drink. The empties in the crate suggested that we'd tried to lighten the load. It was six o'clock and dark. So I went back to sleep. When I woke up, it was six o'clock and dark. What I first thought was morning had been evening.  What I now thought was evening was actually morning. I'd slept for twenty-seven hours.

On standing, I marvelled how my sense of balance had a two-second time lag over movement. And you know the impossible-to-scratchy-itch feeling you get when a major wound is healing? That. In every damn cell of my body.

I did what any right-minded individual would do. Drink gin and go back to bed for another day.


“The telephone blasted. Peter Fallow awake inside an egg with the shell peeled away and only the membranous sac holding it intact. Ah! The membranous sac was his head, and the right side of his head was on the pillow, and the yolk was as heavy as mercury, and it rolled like mercury, and it was pressing down on his right temple… If he tried to get up to answer the telephone, the yolk, the mercury, the poisoned mass, would shift and roll and rupture the sac, and his brains would fall out.”

'The Bonfire Of The Vanities', Tom Wolfe


Breakfasting With A Hangover

- avoid frying pans, naked flames, hot oil / fats etc. Immolation is likely to put a futher downer on an already grim day.

- avoid coffee. You'll still feel like shit. You'll just be wide awake and feeling like shit.

- Mars bar into freezer. Bread into toaster. Eggs into bowl with milk, butter, chives. Microwave the eggs. Toast the bread. Apply eggs to bread. Repeat until you feel sick. If you are sick, do not attempt to microwave it. Trust me, the smell takes months to scrub away.

- drink milk. It tastes good, feels good, does you good. Unless you are lactose-intolerant. In which case, you're screwed. Milk also tastes better out of the bottle. Bonus points if you nick one off the float or the doorstep of that grumpy old bag three doors up the road. The last two sentences may, however, may require you to travel back to the seventies as I can't remember the last time I saw a milk float.

- remember that Mars bar? Take it out the freezer. By now, you should be able to trust yourself with a knife. Cut it into thumb-thick slices. Do not, however, use your own thumb as a guide. You're still a little pissed. Place slice on tongue. Feel the cold sugar rush. Repeat.

If you can't trust yourself with a knife, put the Mars bar down. ON NO ACCOUNT SHOULD YOU:

- attempt to eat it whole (choke hazard)

- attempt to take a bite (dental bill)

- attempt to use it as a sex toy (laundry bill / awkward form-filling at the hospital)


I can offer no more than these words by Christopher Hitchens, a man who the world doesn't yet fully realise how much they're going to miss:

"Here are some simple pieces of advice for the young.

Don't drink on an empty stomach: the main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food.

Don't drink if you have the blues: it's a junk cure.

Drink when you are in a good mood.

Cheap booze is a false economy.

It's not true that you shouldn't drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain.

Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can't properly remember last night. (If you really don't remember, that's an even worse sign.)

Avoid all narcotics: these make you more boring rather than less and are not designed—as are the grape and the grain—to enliven company.

Be careful about up-grading too far to single malt Scotch: when you are voyaging in rough countries it won't be easily available.

Never even think about driving a car if you have taken a drop.

It's much worse to see a woman drunk than a man: I don't know quite why this is true but it just is.

Don't ever be responsible for it.”


Merry Christmas, folks. If you feel hungover, click here and turn the volume up