Protempore: “The other morning, I woke up with a hangover”


Posted by in October's Magazine

Rain was battering off the windows and it was still dark outside. Despite the lack of light, a squadron of seagulls were making a noise which I can only describe as being like the kind of horror-inducing squeals that Joe Pasquale would make if he was being interfered with in a maximum-security prison. My head felt like it weighed a ton and my mouth felt as though dwarves with muddy boots had been walking around in it all night. I was rampantly thirsty.     

Which made me think of my friend Hannah’s sister, who, finding herself in the same predicament and unable to move through to her kitchen to quench her thirst, decided to drink the contents of her now cooled, hot water bottle. I didn’t have a hot water bottle, but I did have an empty mug next to my bed and I thought about the film Walkabout and wondered whether I could drink my own piss. The only thing putting me off doing that, was that it would probably have tasted like the Peroni which had got me into this state in the first place. 

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Feeling sorry for myself and trying to quell the dreaded “fear” which inevitably follows the night before, I decide to hold my breath to try and lower my heart rate. However, this only resulted in the pressure in my head tightening to the point where my eyes were so far out of my head, I looked like Marty Feldman would if he was the one interfering with Joe Pasquale. 

This was not good. I stood up, too quickly, and nearly passed out. Holding on to the wall, I managed to make it through to fridge where I knew that salvation awaited in the form of cold milk and Kit-Kats – trust me, it works, not in quite the same was a shot of Fernet Branca does, but they quell a bile-ridden stomach quicker than my old mucker Billy Mearns can clear a buffet. I put the radio on and lay on the sofa.

I watched the light coming up slowly over the docks, and as the cacophony of Joe Pasquale’s worst nightmare subsided, listened to Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 in E minor. I should point out at this stage, that my radio is permanently tuned to BBC 3 Classic’s after my good friend, the jazz musician, Brian Kellock, stayed for the night and managed to lock the digital radio. Brian loves jazz, classical music and hard rock – I can only imagine that he did it on purpose as payback for me not having any Kit- Kats in the flat when he stayed over. Anyway, the music settled me down a bit and I mused that, as people are given to saying now and again, things could be much worse. If you need proof of that, the Scottish Parliament hosted the World Press Photo Exhibition during the Festival, (you can access some images online ).

To say that some of the photographs in the exhibition are harrowing, is an understatement of huge dimensions. We all know that the world is a pretty fucked up place right now, but what we’re having to put up with in relation to Brexit, Boris and Trump et al, is nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to the misery and destruction being visited upon the poorest and most vulnerable human beings on the planet. 

When we hear that a market in Afghanistan has been reduced to rubble by a suicide bomber, we may think we know what looks like, but to see it up close in a photo taken seconds after people have been eviscerated alerts us to the fact that we know nothing. We think we know what poverty looks like, but when you see a photo of a small boy asleep on a mattress which is floating on a river of mud and plastic, you’re alerted to the fact that we know nothing. We shouldn’t be ashamed looking at such images, but we should be angry. Not just angry and then off to Starbucks to discuss Love Island, but angry enough to know that while we can’t solve all of the world’s problems, we can make small changes which might make ripples across the globe. 

We could start by doing everything we possibly can to evict the right-wing, climate-change denying cabal currently squatting in Downing Street.

Next time you’ve got a stinking hangover, keep some of this in mind. And no, not Marty Feldman and Joe Pasquale.

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