Saturday, December 23, 2006

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Actually, it wasn’t. It was last night – a Friday. But it was the last time that young Beverage and your humble author would be going out before Christmas in each other’s company, so in some respects it was the night before Christmas. Besides, it makes for a topical title.

The evening started early. At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, to be precise. Two reasons for this – Beverage had to leave the pub early to go home to pack and wrap his presents and then get across to his sister’s ready to disappear to the land of Male Voice Choirs early this morning, and also because I finished work at about 2.

Well, I say *work* - as always the day before breaking up before Christmas was not that productive. At about 11am my boss sent a colleague and me out to buy wine – a mission we accomplished with some aplomb, even if we did come back with a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale as well as the plonk. As soon as the wine was uncorked (well, unscrewed – we went for quantity rather than quality) any chance of doing any work went straight out the window. From that point, I managed to accidentally form a band called The Drunken Bakers (after the characters in Viz, of course) and persuaded a colleague to spray Savlon disinfectant spray into his mouth (which, even though it cost me a fiver, I class as my sole achievement of the day).

I met Beverage in the pub and had a couple of beers in his lunch break, before he returned to the office to ring his mates to arrange New Year’s Eve drinking session. I chose this sacred time to get something to eat and dump my bag back at my flat. We had arranged that Beverage would call me when he finished up work for the day, week and year. And so he did – his timing was absolutely uncanny, and he called whilst I was having what I believe cockneys would call a Richard the Third. He left a message, asking me to call him back. Which, of course, I did – only to find that he has wandered away from his desk leaving his phone behind. After a little bit of telephone tennis (it turns out that we struggle to organise a piss up in a brewery) we arranged to meet back at the pub we had been in for lunch.

When I arrived back there I saw the landlord, S, on the door. I asked him how everything was going, and the reply came back “fucking ridiculous”. Roughly translated from the Canadian, this means “my pub is really busy, making loads of money, thanks for asking.” I am not saying S doesn’t like his job – what I am saying is that he is amazingly good at hiding it.

Beverage turns up and we proceed with the evening’s main activity – binge drinking. We were supposed to be joined by a friend, A, but unfortunately she had to work (she redeemed herself totally by buying us Christmas presents). However, in one of life’s arbitrary moments, we were joined by H.

Now, H used to be the Assistant Manager in the pub we were in. And to say that she didn’t like her job would probably be an understatement. She lived and worked in a quiet, vicious rage against her staff, the customers, and the world in general. She has perfected a stare that can chill the blood – despite the fact that she is short and slight, I would never, ever see her losing a fight. She could take on King Kong, Jason Voorhees and the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan and win without even breaking a sweat. If you want a dictionary definition of feisty, then H would be your girl.

And, as always, a lot of her of caustic vitriol was directed against Beverage. I kept a tally throughout the evening of all the put downs and insults that hit the mark – the final score was H - 79, Beverage - 3.

The evening proceeded as you might expect with people getting slowly twatted. There was some controversy over my failed attempts to buy a round – whenever I tried, the landlord paid for them. There was talk about Daniel Craig, which led to the legendary line from H that Daniel was “grrr”, whilst her boyfriend was “lovely”. I sense that her boyfriend would be kicked out of bed for Mr Craig, but I could be wrong… Owing to Beverage’s native land there was some talk of sheep shagging – it was all in good taste, and not at all racist. And H mentioned that of the pair of us, I was the quieter one. Apparently this is because I am “intellectual” – which I think is a fucking result, frankly, because I thought I was the quieter one because I just don’t have a lot to say.

At some point we moved pubs. I have no idea of the reason(s) why, or any real recollection of the journey between venue. Alcohol induced amnesia is a blessing in disguise, and one of my lasting fears is one day all the horrifically stupid and embarrassing things I have done in one nerve shredding, and soul-destroying, moment. But this is an aside – the real reason why I mention the change in venue is because it was at the second pub where Beverage made a new friend – and a new enemy.

The enemy was partly H’s fault – mainly because she was smoking the gayest cigarettes in the world. Ever. Now I know that one should not use the word gay in an insulting way, but there is no other way to describe these cigarettes. Called Vogue, they were long, thin, and menthol. I never thought H would ever look camp, but smoking her way through those fags, she managed it. And when she finished the pack, Beverage showed his disdain by throwing the empty packet behind him. Sadly, on top of some bald headed fucktard.

The fucktard decided to come over to ask what Beverage thought he was doing. We thought it was a joke at first – after all, you can’t do a whole lot of damage with an empty carton of gay cigarettes. But no, alas, the fucktard was serious. By the time we realised that he was threatening Beverage, he had wandered off back to his embarrassed looking mates. We barely had time to discuss the fucktard before he came back, apologised and left the pub in a strop. We may have been to full of the Christmas spirit(s), but he could have done with being a bit less like a pissed up version of Scrooge.

Beverage’s friend was a different kettle of fish. Tall, middle-aged, with really bad hair and the rosey red cheeks that can only come after years of binging it, he ended up having quite a long conversation with Beverage. About what I could not tell you, partly because I was having an in depth conversation with H (in *no way* about what CDs her boyfriend could burn for me) and partly because I could tell that this was the sort of gentlemen that you could not lose for love nor money once you had acknowledged his presence. As H and I found out…

Beverage left the pub after his conversation with his new friend. I am not saying his new friend drove him from the pub, but it may well have been an opportune time for Beverage to leave as he had planned (prior to the boozing) that he would leave at 8pm, and it was now 9:15pm. So, after a good bye that took forever (mainly because we kept on getting distracted and forgetting that Beverage was trying to leave) H and I continued with our conversation. Fuck knows what it was about, but it seemed relevant and entertaining at the time.

However, Beverage’s new friend would not leave us alone. It is difficult to know exactly why he kept on pestering us, but I think he might have taken a wee shine to H. I doubt it was me that he had taken a shine to, but my butt cheeks were clenched just in case. It became clear that we would struggle to lose this fucker, so H and I decided that we were actually a happily married couple enjoying a pre-Christmas drinks. Eventually, after some blatantly unfriendly body languages, we parted company with Beverage’s new friend with a surprisingly emotional good bye from him, given we had only just met the bastard. Last time I saw him, Beverage, your new friend was lurching off into the night, no doubt to irritate the living piss out of some other poor bastard.

There is nothing more to add to this story, other than I have a terrible head this afternoon, which feels not unlike some sort of evil gremlin has crawled into my head through my ear and is now taking a lot of pride in bashing the living crap out of my cranium and my eyeballs. I’m going to go and have a bit of a lie-down, but Notes From A Drunken Evening will return in the New Year…

Merry Christmas!

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