Good evening everybody, and what a beautiful evening it is, here in Manchester in the depths of summer. It’s the kind of evening that makes you forget it was fricking cold less than two weeks ago, and forces you to believe that this is what the weather is going to be like for the next three months. Well, I’m sorry to burst your little bubble, but it’s not going to be like that. Even so, let’s enjoy this good fortune while we can.
I’ve got something a bit different for you this week – an actual story about something that happened way back in 1998. So, increase the brightness on your phone, so you can actually see the screen, and get stuck in…
One morning, as I was heading out to lectures during my second year at university, I saw what looked like a petrol canister on the doorstep outside. There was no note, so I took it inside and opened it to have a quick sniff and see what liquid it contained. Had I interrupted someone in the early stages of committing arson? Had a desperate oil drum left its illicit offspring to be raised by a house of childless students? Was it just someone’s helpful suggestion for how we could clear up the mess in the living room?
Wait! You forgot to leave some matches! Oh, it’s ok, I’ve got one lighter that has gas, and another that can still spark…
No. None of those. It was wine, enough wine for 2, maybe 3 people to drink, but probably not all 7 people who lived in our house – or maybe I was vastly overestimating my capacity to drink wine. People do that when it’s free - British people do anyway if my last few works dos are anything to go by. They get excited and think they need to get their money’s worth, even though it’s not their money’s worth they’re getting. They forget that they’re in their 40s with 2 kids, and can’t drink like they used to when they were students, so they end up falling asleep [or over], vomiting through their mouths [or noses], or committing petty acts of vandalism or larceny. Because in the snooze you lose world we live in, the first thought is always “I need to drink this before somebody else does.”
When you’re a student you’re still finding your boundaries and pushing them, so… figuring that this wine couldn’t possibly be for us, I decided I’d best sack lectures off that day, find a drinking buddy, and set to work on drinking my good fortune before someone came a-looking.
It turned out that everyone had already gone to lectures except myself and my housemate Chris, who was still in bed. Chris now maintains that he had actually been to lectures already, and had since returned home. If you knew Chris back then, you’d be forgiven for being sceptical about that assertion. Getting up early? Yes, he was known for that. But going to lectures? No – loading a lung and getting stoned is what he was more known for. That and wearing a hat indoors, because washing his hair was too much trouble.
Either way, it didn’t take much to convince him that this was something we needed to work on straight away, so he got up (or didn’t) and we started drinking… out of pint glasses. Pints of wine. In the morning. That’s the sort of thing you can only do when you’re a student… or an unemployed alcoholic.
I’d like to tell you we had lots of fun adventures, but we didn’t. I’m pretty sure all we achieved was a childish rampage around the house followed by an hilarious trip to the local Kwik Save. I did learn two things though;
1. when drinking pints of wine in the morning, expect a monstrous headache by 6pm, and an inability to sleep it off. It’s not the kind of mistake you make twice. Actually it is, if only free wine would show up on the doorstep more often.
2. You can’t drink wine in the same way you drink beer – because you will get very, very pissed. Beer is for swigging, wine for sipping.
We later learned that the wine was a Christmas gift from the property company, and thus intended for all the housemates – but obviously not intended for all the housemates to get drunk. So that was nice. Fair play to our friends; they didn’t seem to mind too much that Chris and I had drunk it all. I think they knew they would have done the same thing in our position – what else can you expect in an environment where someone steals your seat the moment you get up - and I mean the moment?
Anyone sitting in a prime TV viewing position in our house would have to spend a long time weighing up the benefits of emptying their bladder against the cost of being relegated to the far corner of the room on their return, where they could only see the TV side-on. And they’d usually have to bring whatever anyone else wanted from the kitchen on their way back because no one else wanted to gamble. There was also the possibility that they might be giving up prime position concerning any spliffs that were going round, and let’s face it; that was far more important. It made for a tense waiting game which sometimes led to physical tussles between rivals who made a bid for any newly vacated seat, and I don’t think we’ve seen the long term effects this would have on our bladders just yet.
Occasionally the whole seating plan would change as others would take advantage of the tussle to improve their own position, now at the expense of anyone foolish enough to have given any semblance of moving away from their seat.
One such altercation that occurred while the housemates were on acid resulted in one person sitting on another, such was their stubbornness at having lost out on the seat – if I can’t have it, I’m going to make it as uncomfortable as possible for you!
Yep; those days are gone. It’s considered rude now to occupy someone’s newly vacated seat if there’s any chance they might be returning. Similarly, it would take special circumstances to make me think of drinking wine in the morning again – like, as I said, maybe a gallon of it turning up, unannounced on the doorstep.
Hello? Is that work? I’m uh… not feeling well… [hic!] What? Yes, I think I feel a… monstrous headache coming on…
So, what have you got on this weekend? Yeh? Sounds good. As for me, the missus and I are heading to Sheffield tomorrow for an nice leisurely weekend away, visiting friends. You know there’s going to be drinking. That’s about it, actually. Well, you have fun, and I’ll see you next week for another post. Thanks for reading.