I had my first hangover from Hell when I was 17.
As soon as I passed my driving test, I set myself up as a mobile disco called Arson Annie. Armed with a twin tape deck and my trusty turntable I spent the whole of that summer ghetto blasting my way through rural Gloucestershire. I was guaranteed to rock up to the homes of all my friends who grabbed the opportunity to arrange an impromptu party when they found out that their parents would be away for the night.
At one fiery party in a briefly parentless home, my friend’s twelve-year-old brother was acting as a self-appointed bartender. Availing ourselves to the contents of the parentibus abessent’s drinks cupboard, I asked for a gin and bitter lemon. What I got was a lethal concoction, which tasted like bitter lemon but had enough alcohol in it to fell a 16-stone rugby player and I had more than one.
It was hot and steamy on the makeshift dance floor as I swilled what I thought was a lot of bitter lemon with a little gin, but the bitter lemon disguised a lethal cocktail of various spirits. With my sound system set to max volume, Tina Turner’s Nutbush City Limits began to sound hollow and distant as my surroundings blurred and my speech slurred. I managed to make it upstairs to the bathroom where, kneeling in front of the lavatory, I projectile vomited the fermenting brew inside my stomach.
Exhausted, I collapsed to the floor and rolled on to my back. The bathroom walls were covered with wallpaper, featuring single-stemmed roses spaced six inches apart. Only I could see twice as many roses than the designer created, which spun and twirled, dive-bombing me Walt Disney-style.
I came to the following morning, the party long since over and still lying on the bathroom floor. Enveloped in the smell of wet dog, curled up with the family’s golden retriever. Every dehydrated inch of me felt nauseous. My head felt like it was being hit with a sledgehammer, and I imagined I could hear the music from the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Phsyco.
“Her head felt like elephants were doing the merengue on her cerebellum.”
It was a sound learning curve, although I had been unaware of how much and how many different types of alcohol were sloshing around in my bitter lemon.
While lying on that bathroom floor breathing in the smell of wet dog, I promised myself that I would never drink again. It should have been a sound learning curve, but I broke that promise when the next party came around.
Since that time, however bad I might have felt after having had one too many, I will never feel quite as appalling as I did with my first ever hangover. Waking up to the aroma of a wet dog and having been traumatised by dive-bombing single-stemmed red roses.