I’m presently debating whether or not to post this. If you’re reading it, then either I have, or you’ve gone and utilised one of those Trojan horse things like Orlando Bloom and got into my computer. If so, the porn is to your left, and please don’t tell anyone about the government documents that explain how President Lincoln was actually a goose dressed up with some nice hats. Thanks for that.
Anyway, this is only a chunk of the first part of this, and eventually there’s a moral, so if y’all like it and would like the rest, leave a comment, otherwise feel free to ignore all this waffling.
It’s just that’s its kinda serious, the whole addiction shebang, and it is truly possible to escape and all that kind of heart-warming uplifting stuff.
Here, then, is Part One.
Some Fucked Up Bullshit
Every now and again a decent, properly depraved addiction movie arrives, something seedy and filth-laden and positively bulging with the pus of desperation. Something like Nicholas Cage Drinks With Hookers, or Boogie Nights, something that replicates the thrill of waking up in someone else’s vomit, that period of bleak procrastination between opening ones drink or drug or miscellaneous sodden eyes and realising what in God’s name one got up to a few hours previous.
There’s also the one with the woman from The Exorcist. Women From The Exorcist Doesn’t Eat, it may have been called. It was alright. It certainly was green enough.
Cause green means sick, don’t you know. And yet vegetation is healthy. But in any non-vegetation situation, green is the colour of the sick.
And nobody’s sicker than the fool destined to indulge his foolishness, and pay for each fool-filled flight of fancy with his or her sanity or similar.
So anyway, those films. Those paeans to self-abuse and degradation. Stuff you take your partner along to, so as you can say, “Well, what would you prefer? That I lie on my arse all day or that I end up like that? You want that? You want me to be all Nick Cage and get hand-jobs in motels as I shiver the flesh from my bones in some stinking piss-filled bed? I thought as much. Damn grateful, is what you should be.”
Unless of course you are doing all that. With or without the hand-jobs.
Then it doesn’t work quite so well. Then the significant other is likely to glance with suspicion at every sip of amber-liquid you consume. Destined to cringe every time the tins open with a tell-tale pssst.
And next thing you know you’re standing beside a hedge watching the piss roll down your trouser leg.
Except you don’t get an Oscar for it.
Or a hand-job.
My first drink was taken from a skip. My first proper one anyway. There were the parties and the family gatherings when you ask half-heartedly if you can taste this stuff that everyone else loves so much they punch each other in the jaw over. When you’re laying on your stomach watching TV with your feet high in the air behind you, and someone sets down a tin of Harp or some-such right beside you.
But apart from those innocent lip-wetters.
The first proper one was a bottle of Budweiser lifted out of a skip.
Some daft bugger had thrown a crate’s worth of the stuff into said rubbish receptacle, and myself and another enterprising young eleven-year-old decided to salvage two of the items, lest they perish amidst the unforgiving crunch of the garbage disposal vans.
I didn’t know much what to make of it, other than I liked it, and it was certainly something I could see myself devoting a substantial amount of leisure time to the pursuit of. Y’know, when I was a grown-up and such. Older and so on. Mature. Those kinds of things.
But here’s the first of the big twists. And it’s quite a good one, too. Maybe not like finding out Bruce Willis was a ghost, or that Kevin Spacey was Keyser Sosye, but reasonable, certainly better than when Neve Campbell’s brother turned out to be the fucking killer.
What the fuck was that all about?
The twist is that by the time I was legally permitted to partake in the consumption of alcohol and any derivatives of such, I was no long mentally able to do so. Pain in the balls, you would think, but no. You would be wrong. Because I no longer want to partake of such. And that right there is the first of many miracles you will encounter herein.
Maybe it’s not as impressive as Lazarus sitting up and rubbing the maggots out of his skull, or wine springing from a tap, but I’m still quite shagged by the whole affair.
I was raised a few miles from the nearest town, in a housing estate little bigger than a car-park. Big enough to have its own primary school, mind, and how many car-parks can claim that? Not many, I’m guessing. For the young lad or laddess, the centre of all social activity, however, was the bus shelter, unless you were allowed to go into town on your own at such a young age, in which case you were probably some kind of delinquent tearaway and it’s the fault of your parents.
The bus-shelter was where grand ambitions and philosophies would take root, only to be torn asunder with the first nagging outbursts of puberty. And sometimes there were girls, which was a bonus for some, but I personally found it rather distracting. When one is trying to be funny, one is less likely to engage with profound thought. Unless one is Woody Allen.
In fact, girls proved to be an inconvenience for much of my youth. One minute they all want you, and it’s kiss-catching and chasing and “will you go out with her” and “no, girls are crap” and so forth. Then, with bitter, gloating irony, the very second, the very nanosecond that my interest in their feminine mannerisms was plucked, they decide there’s actually much better looking gentlemen a little further along. Ones that play football, by God, and some of them even drink.
There it was again.
This whole drinking carry-on. Seemed to be, from what I could tell, via the utilisation of various diagrams and complex pie charts, this drinking malarkey in some way attributed to ones social status. If one didn’t play football, if one no more cared to run around a field half naked covered in shit and snotters than they desired to insert disproportionately jagged objects into sensitive orifices, then the only way to get anyone’s attention was to drink and throw up and tell folks they know the score.
No matter how many pints, shots, cap-full’s and quarter-bottles I have ingested, I am still no closer to knowing what “the score” actually is. Yet, everyone I have ever came into contact with during my drunkenness, knew precisely what it was. Sometimes very loudly.
And sometimes they may return the compliment.
“This fucker here”, says I, my arm around this fucker here’s shoulders, “He knows the score so he does.”
“No!”, says my acquaintance, “You know the score. You know the fuckin’ score, son, you know the score.”
Usually, both parties conclude that they each hold some knowledge regarding the score, and everything is settled.
But I was lying every time. Whatever the score was, I knew damn all about it.
But I presumed it would arrive at some point, this knowledge of tally’s, this enlightenment regarding numerical results.
At age 13 the thing to do for an evening was suddenly changed from standing around at the bus-shelter talking about stuff, to heading off into town, hanging around street corners and, well, talking about stuff. But with much more swearing.
A friend, the self same, coincidently, who shared that first garbage-laced tipple, took me one fine summer’s eve to the house of a relative. There, hidden away behind a bed in one of the rooms, was a bottle of cider. I can’t recall the exact volume of the container, so engrossed was I in the fact that this friend’s cousin had suddenly became rather attractive in defiance of all laws of physics, but I do recall it was quite large. The bottle of cider, I mean. The bottle was quite large.
And there were cigarettes also. A veritable den of rebellion hidden away behind this unassuming headboard. We didn’t drink from the bottle, as I recall, but the very knowledge that this acquaintance, barely a year older than myself, had in his possession a vast quantity of alcoholic beverage, was enough to convince me that the time had arrived. Those words were going to be put into place alongside my name, like some folks slap letters after theirs on account of degrees in social management skills. The Duke – Mature. Grown-Up.
When you head into a recovery group for the first time, you hear a lot of jargon tossed around. What the hell most of it means is anyone’s guess, but some of it is painfully obvious. Blackout Drinking was one such term I remember hearing very early on in my sobriety. The bizarre enigma of getting up all sorts of bizarre shenanigans, and having “the best night ever, man”, apparently, and yet remembering not one solitary detail. Or maybe you do remember a few, but they’re kind of soft-focus, and not really in the right chronological order. Like late-period Fellini, in fact.
My first blackout happened when I was 13 or 14 years old. It was a terrifying affair, not at the time, since I was fucked if I knew what the hell was going on, but afterwards, when feelings of joviality and reckless youthful spree’s were replaced with guilt and remorse and genuine sorrow for the hurt it had caused other people. That bit was fairly crap, to be honest. But it never got less crap. It never went from being unbearable torment to being a right old time. I never woke up with the smile I went to sleep with.
Around the time of that first black-out, a few interesting things were happening in the town. One such event, was that a renowned off-licence was changing hands, so to speak. Another was that a similar popular drinking establishment was doing the same thing. What this meant for myself and company, was that these proprietors were more than willing to hand out drink to whoever the hell came to the door, regardless of age or obvious pre-pubescent status.
One night we gathered outside the latter outlet, a hotel that was in the process of being handed over to new management. One of our clan went in first, to test the water, if you will, an anxious toe dipped into the metaphorical bath-tub. I remember the rush of orgasmic joy, as that individual was reached a pint of, yes, it was definitely lager, it had foam and everything, and then took a seat for to sip, since that what’s you did when you were mature. You sipped.
And sure enough, the steady leak trickled on, until we all were sat in that corner, and were all testing out our new-found deep voices for authenticity, and were all sipping, as is the wont of a mature gentleman. But my sipping was slightly more frenzied than the others. I was taking a follow-up sip before the glass had touched the table from the sip hitherto. It was really polite gulping if anything.
But I’d be fucked if I got caught, so it had to be just the one.
You learn early on in life, provided you are me, and the lessons learned all involved alcohol, and as such would then be discarded as soon as was convenient, that anything offered to “take the smell of your breath” is nothing more than the most bogus of snake-oil. I learned, through many, many bitter experiences, that nothing, not Lockets nor Throaties nor Polo’s nor Fruity Polo’s nor Cheeseburgers nor Cinnamons can take the stench of drunkenness from the lungs of an individual. It can’t be done.
In pub toilets across the world at this very minute, 14 years olds are standing huddled in pairs, blowing onto one another’s faces. Let me tell you now, these bouts of air-puffing are in vain. If they tell you they can’t smell anything, then it’s either because you haven’t drank anything, and therefore what the fuck are you doing breathing onto his face anyway, or its because he is himself so intoxicated that even if rancid slurry were spewing from your lips he would still say, “No, all you can smell’s chewing gum.”
But regardless of the fear of being caught, I still found enough in my fluff-laced pocket to sponser another pint. The result was that I wasn’t caught, as such, but did have to endure a car-journey alive with the rattle of suspicious sniffing.
I got home, got upstairs, and that was that. Another notch on the mature-o-meter. Not simply a drink. Anyone could do that. No, I had sat in a licensed premise, in full view of any patrons therein, and purchased an alcoholic beverage.
The next time I did it I woke up in an ambulance. That event, it pains me to relate, saw many, many notches lost from the mature-o-meter, and the first of thousands on the old I’m Never Ever Ever Doing That Again-o-meter.
Some other dents on said ometer – Drinking half a pint of my own piss. Falling down stairs in full flight of those who really didn’t want to see me doing falling down flights of stairs. Falling asleep in sundry bushes. Convincing a very good friend to knock me out in Londonderry. Making people I loved cry.
So something had to be done, but The Duke was fucked if he knew what.
And then, after getting engaged and going mad and being in nuthouses and so-on, I stumbled into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the AA that fixes your head, and not the one that fixes your car. Both are very near one another in the phone book.
In Part Two The Duke will reveal all that stuff about the nut-house. Maybe. If you want, like.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando.