A picture appeared on my Facebook ‘On this Day’ today, it was from ten years ago. A selfie with me and one of my ‘bar friends’. Ten years ago, I had a lot of bar friends. Because, I spent a lot of my time in the bars that were cropping up in Chelmsford. The pubs seemed to be dying, the clubs were failing, it felt like everyone was in a bar. So was I.
My phone was full of pictures of me with various people – looking more dischellved as the night progressed. We were an odd collection of folk, a bunch of misfits with an extended family of their friends, and partners. Making friends was easy, you’d go outside and smoke. Making acquaintance with everyone outside, commenting on the world staggering by. Singing and dancing along to the muffled music from inside with your band of Marlborough chugging buds.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
No.. Actually – it was the worst of times.
I was in crisis. I was drinking most nights, I was chain smoking. I sometimes rocked up to work either drunk, or stinking of booze. Sometimes both. I was an absolute state of a human. Weirdly, at the weekends I was ‘normal’ – I had to be a parent, G was with me. It was early nights, and being awake at 5am playing with toys with my tiny princess. Then, when she was back with her Mum, the party would start again. I drank cheap pints, sickly shots. I was a fucking mess. We’d co-ordinate going out with text messages, and writing on Facebook walls. There was usually someone ready to get in a state with. I was living like a teenager at 26 years old.
One night, I had a run in with the police. On the way home, I decided it was probably a good idea to have a lie down. Sensible perhaps. My choice of bed for that night was a road, a main road – outside a police station. I wasn’t there for very long. A police car returning to the station stopped and they had words with me. These words I couldn’t tell you – I remember very little. A sleep, a road, some shouting – that’s it. I had the story recounted to me the next day in full by my then girlfriend. They were going to take me away. My only saving grace was that I she lived on that road, and could promise them I wasn’t going anywhere other than inside, and to bed.
I was one of those drunk people I used to watch on ‘Road Wars’ on Sky One. Arguing with the Police, generally being a twat. I was that twat, I was the person I’d tut and shake my head at. You don’t often realise you’re in a crisis until you’re too far into one. I’d like to say from that night, everything changed – I stopped drinking and put myself right. I didn’t – I still drank, I still smoked. However I tried not to get AS far gone. I’d been drunk to the point of real amnesia before, and it’s scary. It’s weird waking up in a strange place, it’s worse waking up in a Police cell I imagine. I was spared, I was thankful.
Ten years ago. That was me ten years ago.
I’ve had J in that time, me and his Mum got married and divorced in that time – I got married again too. I set up this blog ten years ago.
I looked at the picture, and I didn’t see me. It was a person, who looked like me, but it wasn’t me. It’s like a strange, faulty mirror. All the people with me in the pictures, I couldn’t tell you who half of them were. The ‘Bar friends’ weren’t really friends, they were people who drank excessively like me. Some were just students, others were in their own little crisis bubble. We each gave each other company, an ear for our woes, and a drink for our troubles. We, the drunken few were never the problem, we were always the poor person on the receiving end of life’s injustices.
We were the problem – we had a problem.
“Take it easy mate, you start to think you’re a state, you definitely are a state” – Too Much Brandy, Mike Skinner
Ten years ago. I was wasting my life.
I don’t think I was an alcoholic, I could not drink. I could do my job, I could parent, I could exist without it. I was on a very slippery slope though. I felt more alive with a handful of pints in my belly, or a £5 bottle of wine in me. I could socialise, I could make friends, I could talk, I could laugh. I did all of that, but like a weird drunk Cinderella, when the bars closed, it was back to reality. Back to me. I hate ‘me’.
I started writing this with a point, a purpose – I wanted to wrap it up nicely, give you some conclusion. However, I can’t.. I suppose if I want you to ‘take home’ anything from this collection of words. It’s that there is nothing wrong with drinking, heck, being drunk. I did some fun things, with some nice people. Things we’d probably never do without a blood stream bordering on the ABV of a Whiskey. When you’re drinking regularly to try and make your world better, and numb everything to a more comfortable volume, you probably should stop and assess everything.
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