And the moral of today’s tale is: Under no circumstances should I be allowed out. Ever.
To be fair, tonight was an accident waiting to happen. A much anticipated band reunion. The band that had been the soundtrack to much of my youth. A reunion too of a gang of mates from wilder, headier days. The children parked at my parents for at least 24 hours… I’m sure that even those of you who don’t know me can see the iceberg.
Friends flew in from Italy and France. Some drove down from Scotland. Our house switched from toddler pad to squalid student hovel almost imperceptibly. Crates of Stella lined the wall, bottles of wine and Jagermeister dotted amongst cans of red bull. One of our saucers filled with fag ends in an alarmingly short space of time.
I’d been tasked with the 120mile round trip to dispatch the kids. He had to put a duvet cover on our spare duvet then….go to the pub with his mate. He didn’t know it at that point, but I would have my revenge later…
I return home to a house full. Assuming I am well behind the times I start necking Prosecco, in festive mood. I make up a litre of G&T for the taxi ride and we’re all set to go. The unamused taxi man tells us we can’t drink in his minibus. Boo to him.
The ride is interminable. Someone has selfishly had a crash just where we need to come off the motorway. I’m sneakily sip sip sipping away at my G&T, in your face taxi man. We all have a singsong, spirits are high.
I’d love to tell you more. I’d love to regale you with tales of the atmosphere, the support bands etc etc. I can’t. I can’t because I lost about three hours of my night. You see, it turns out that someone my size (or probably any size for that matter), simply cannot imbibe a bottle of fizzy and a litre of G&T within the space of two hours and still function. He is my hero. He stuck by me for the whole night as I gambolled about like some new born foal, barrelling into wheelie bins and having snoozes against fences. All this before we’d even made it through the gates.
I come to in time for the main event, demand some paracetamol off a complete stranger and spend the rest of the night having a gay old time. On His shoulders, singing away without a care in the world.
In the time it’s taken for me to sober up, some of our friends have become rather merry. At the end of the gig we make our way back to where our taxi is due to pick us up from. Frequent wee stops are requested. In order to keep the gang together, someone devises a system whereby we can pee with utmost privacy within the bosom of our friends. “Circle of Trust” comes the cry. Like that scene from ‘Gladiator’, we all stand in a circle, arms linked, facing outwards. The one who needs to go enters the circle and we close ranks, shielding them from prying eyes. Great in theory. In reality it induced such stage fright that, as one of the girls said “it made my wee vanish for hours”…
We arrive home. Surely one of the hallmarks of being middle-aged is that you prepare food ready for your return home. I’d made a Lamb and Spinach curry, one of our favourites from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible. Lamb pieces marinated in ginger, garlic and ground coriander. Cooked with turmeric, cayenne pepper and natural yoghurt. I add some potato to pad it out a bit. Along with three big bags of fresh spinach.
I attempt to claw back some brownie points with everyone after my shocking display. I produce bhajis, samosas, pakoras, naans and rice to go with. Seems to go down well. One of our friends is missing. I find him asleep on the bathroom floor.
I spend most of the following morning apologising. My whole body aches like I’ve been in some high-speed skiing collision. Mystery haematomas pop up all over. I’m sure I hear my liver whimpering. The pictures start appearing on Facebook. Our delightfully chubby, flame-haired friend shares a video of me from the night before. Shame burns. The kids’ return home is the last thing I need. I can barely function. They are in super demanding mode to boot. I feel like weeping. “What do you WANT from me?!?!”. Again my hero, He makes a restorative cottage pie for our tea.
The sort of get together that probably happens once a decade. And a bloody good job too. I’m off to apply arnica and request a place on the liver transplant waiting list. Oh to be 23 again!!