10 11 / 2011
It began, as it so often does, with a solitary word. “Pint?” An innocent enough enquiry, I’m sure you’ll agree, posed to a fellow gentleman via the medium of text message. Nothing wrong with that, is there? I suppose, with the benefit of hindsight and in the interests of factual accuracy, it should have read “Nine pints, two bottles of sauvignon blanc, one bottle of fizzy wine and a pad Thai?” but I am just a mere mortal who cannot see into the future.
The reasons for my query were twofold. First: the recipient, an old friend who now lives overseas, was in the neighbourhood for a few days. Second: a team of highly paid footballers had won a game (of football, no less!) and I was looking for someone to celebrate with. The fact that I had no involvement in this sporting accomplishment beyond bellowing at an impassive television screen was irrelevant. As was the fact that the only reason I had such an abundance of free time all of a sudden was because I’d told my wife I needed some peace and quiet to get some work done. She, being the loving wife she is, had duly obliged by vacating the flat with our baby in tow. And now, here I was in the peace and quiet of a public house packed to the rafters with drunken football supporters swearing joyously at slow motion replays of John Terry falling over. My phone buzzed with a reply. “YES!”
I had forgotten what life was like before Albert arrived. The three and a bit months that have passed since then may as well have been three decades. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to the cinema, or saw a gig, or went out for a drink with colleagues after work or, indeed, watched a game of football. I had consigned these simple pleasures to the murky recesses of my memory, but now, all of a sudden, some familiar sensations came flooding back. The fizz of cheap, domestic lager danced across my tongue. The melodious theme music to Sky Sports Super Soccer Saturday lilted on the air. My nostrils filled with the sweet stench of stale vomit and beer-sodden carpet. It felt good to be doing something normal again. It felt exciting.
Moments later, my friend arrived and we embraced each other as spiritual brothers. We were free men and all the possibilities of life in London stretched out before us like a great banquet waiting to be feasted upon. We resolved to make to most of this rare opportunity the gods had afforded us. We would sip from the cup of life. We would throw caution to the winds of fate. We would set sail for destiny on a ship called FREEDOM. But first, we would get another round in.
Approximately eleven hours later, with dawn fast approaching and the final strains of the Ghostbusters soundtrack still booming from my living room stereo we decided to call it an evening. Our journey had run its course. My friend disappeared into the milky night and I retired to the warm embrace of bed, where happily I found my doting wife and child had been waiting up for me. I greeted them affectionately before emptying the contents of my stomach somewhere between the bedroom and bathroom, and slithered elegantly under the duvet.
The exact details of what happened that fateful night I’m afraid I cannot speak of. My friend and I took a solemn vow never to reveal our heroic exploits. And also, we can’t remember. My wife remembers though. Oh yes, I’m afraid this is not the kind of thing she forgets quickly.
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