For several hours, the Mother drifts in and out of sleep. Not a pleasant kind of drifting, not like a little boat sailing across a calm turquoise ocean, that would have been lovely. But more like the drifting, you experience when recovering from an operation when the anesthetic wears off and the pain begins to kick in. Perhaps drifting is the wrong word. If she had to use an ocean-based simile, she would say this is more like a stormy and violent sea. The waters are filled with rocks, into which the Mother keeps crashing. For several hours, she slips from sleep to waking wretchedness and back again, and between these two states, she remembers fragments of the night before.
The Mother had gone out for a drink in Camberwell with her friend. She’d had a couple of pints, and that would’ve been enough for her. And that’s where the evening should have ended. But no, she’d had a drinking head-on, and in her alcohol-induced wisdom, she’d suggested another drink.
“Come on, let’s go somewhere else for a drink, it’s only 10, the night is young.” Have more fatal words ever been spoken? Before they knew it, they were heading to King’s Cross and a place named Club Couture. Before that night, the never even heard of the place so god knows where she got the idea from. Yet another unsolved mystery of the evening But still, when they got there, it was loud, it was packed, and it was buzzing.
The Mother remembered talking to an Italian lesbian who she had meet in the smoking area. By chance, she discovered that she was a smoker to, or at leats she was after 3 pints. She can remember talking at length to her new-found friend about work, travel, politics, and the outrageous cost of renting in London. The conversation then moved on, as these things do, to Pope John Paul II and his disdain for homosexuals.
Although, had it not been for this former Pope’s attitude to the gays, the Italian would not have left Italy. And as a result would not be now entertaining the Mother in a grotty toilet of a smoking area at a debauched club in north London. Swings and roundabouts.
The Mother has having a fantastic time. The music was good, the company great. But that’s how it always starts, isn’t it? By the stroke of midnight, she’d probably had four or five pints, which was her absolute limit. She’d made up her mind that she definitely would not consume any more beer, and that’s when she switched to Jägerbombs. The Jägerbombs had not been her idea, she wasn’t even sure what they were. In fact, when the Italian convinced her to have one, she thought she’d agreed to a pill or powder of some sort. But then she remembered they’d both pushed their way to the bar, well, that’s definitely not the place to be if you wanna start experimenting with drugs. It turned out Jägerbombs were some kind of alcoholic cough medicine fused with fizzy caffeine. Their impact on her senses was immediate, The cost horrific; a couple of lines would probably have been cheaper. But still, the Mother felt obliged to buy the next round. Fortunately, or maybe, unfortunately, her Italian friend recognized. someone she knew behind the bar, a dominatrix from Putney, (her words!) At that point there was no stopping them, the drinks came free and they kept coming. Not long after that, things started to go a bit wobbly.
She could remember heading to the dance floor to the sound of Rhythm Is A Dancer, which was quickly followed by Jump Around by the House Of Pain, and although she almost lost her balance a couple times, mostly she managed to stay upright and moving. She held her own on the dance floor for about 20 minutes, until they played Firestarter by the Prodigy; even sober, she’d struggle to dance to that. At that point, she realised she needed to get some fresh air and, as it turned out, throw up into a bin.
After that, she felt a bit better. The Mother could remember talking a lot, but to whom and about what remains a mystery. Whatever the subject, she’d been particularly animated about it. Although she might have been on her own with that
At 3.00 am, she left the club, amazingly still clutching her drink. She has a vague memory of getting on a bus home, which is weird because she also remembers getting out of a cab. In-between, there is nothing, an abyss. That is it, that is all she remembers about the evening, and for that, she will be eternally grateful.
She closes her eyes and tries to get back to sleep. This is a day best spent asleep or otherwise unconscious. She thinks of sheep, she counts backwards. She counts sheep jumping backwards. She imagines she is lying on a warm sandy beach and eventually she sleeps. Hours pass, the morning turns into the afternoon. At last, she is feeling slightly better. She has stopped feeling sick, and if she closes her eyes and keeps completely still, the headache is bearable. It is time to get up and face the day, at least what is left of it. Climbing out of her bed is the hardest part, but once free of the crumpled quilt and dribble-stained pillow, she feels a little bit more alive.
But after a couple of tentative steps down the stairs, she realises things aren’t quite as rosy as she thought. Lying in bed with a hangover was a relatively simple albeit gruesome affair. Moving around the house, however, is a totally different ball game.
As she begins her descent of the stairs, she also begins to feel unsteady on her feet. Her hands shake, and the blood which once flowed through her veins seems to have been replaced with some kind of toxic, corrosive liquid.
Every step she takes causes tiny vibrations to run all through her body. She feels like her skull might crack open like a walnut at any moment. And, Christ, why does she ache so much? Not just the ache of a stomach subjected to prolonged and wretched vomiting, but an ache in every limb which causes her to move like some kind of robotic children’s toy at the end of its life. This is accompanied by the sounds of everyday life – a child laughing, the cat purring – and it is unbearable.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, she is greeted by a stream of sunlight breaking through the thin gap between the curtains. It is like the final scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. But she hasn’t had the sense to close her eyes like Harrison Ford did when the golden ark was opened. No, she is like one those stupid Nazis who looked into the light, causing their eyes and head to melt. Fortunately, her bloodshot eyeballs don’t melt, which she considers to be a bonus at this point. However, if they had, at least she would not have had to face the devastation which is to greet her in the kitchen.