I'm afraid I must begin with a confession. Deep breath - I am writing this after a couple of glasses of champagne. I do hope it all makes sense - I'm terribly sorry if it doesn't.
To be honest, it's highly unlikely it won't. Well, it might, but no more than usual - we certainly can't blame the merry drinks in the sun (oh yes, it's sunny - why do you think we popped the champagne?). I've only had a couple of glasses, spread over a couple of hours, and mitigated by food. By that stage, it's just like drinking water, I hear*.
I do, however, have a rather low tolerance for alcohol - embarrassingly low, at least when I forget this unarguable fact. It's just the way I'm built, and doesn't usually pose a problem, because I'm really good at making sure I eat, drink a large glass of water for every glass of wine, and all the other things magazines and goody-goods tell you to do, but nobody ever does. I do them. I'm that person**. As a result, I don't get falling-down drunk, and I don't get hangovers. I don't like either, so life is good.
Well. Usually, life is good. Usually, I don't get drunk. Usually, I don't get hangovers.
A few weeks ago, with H1 having been merrily waved off on a holiday that I had no desire to go on (if watching cars go round and round and round again can be considered a holiday) I met up with some of my nearest, dearest friends, to enjoy a few civilised drinks in leafy Fulham.
I woke up thinking I was going to die.
Because I don't usually get hangovers, I was confused, and more than a little terrified. I woke up really early. My eyes couldn't open properly. They were stuck together somehow. My mouth couldn't open properly. It, too, was stuck together somehow.
I needed water. 'Gaaah,' I said, but nothing happened. 'Gaaah,' I repeated, but again, nothing.
I pried my eyes open further, only to note that there was nobody in my room to help me. Vague memories of saying goodbye to H1 slowly filled my fuzzy head. I decided to wait for him to return from his three day holiday, and closed my eyes again.
I woke up again. I thought time had passed, but wasn't sure. I was still experiencing problems, with the added complication of a sore head and - feet? Why did my feet hurt?
Slowly, painfully, I slid out of bed. My feet landed on the sharp heel part of a discarded pair of high heels. OH. The sore feet made sudden sense. I limped on them to the kitchen, where I had a short sharp series of heart attacks. Someone had broken into my home! And was in my kitchen!
The stranger turned. It was my friend. OH. My friend and her husband, recently arrived from New Zealand and homeless, were sleeping on our living room floor. She had been out with me the night before! But if she was with me...
She looked at me. Her face was white. Her eyes had a haunting look of desperation in them. I stared into them and saw my own despair looking back at me.
We had water. Food was agreed upon. Somehow, it was made. We took it into the lounge, to be confronted by the husband.
He was out last night, too. With other people. And it was his first experience of the notorious 'English 8%' beer.
We sat. We ate. We drank more water. We didn't bother with communication. We understood it was for the greater good. Outside, as if reading our mood, London was silent. The sky was grey. No cars went by, no planes flew overhead. It was like the moment's silence one observes when there is a national tragedy.
Eventually, somebody said something. Someone else laughed, then stopped abruptly, clutching their head in pain. Slowly, conversation resumed. The previous night was dissected. Memories were filled in.
And at some point, somebody said the immortal words. The words we've all said, or at least thought. The words that may just be the world's truest.
'We're too old for this.'
And we were. We are! The worst thing to be recollected? Not that we spent the night before embarrassingly drunk. But that we didn't. This hangover, this nasty nasty detoxification, was the result of what was, in all honesty, a rather tame night.
You see, as you age, the body can't handle what it once could. There's an explanation. It's to do with medical stuff***. But it gets everyone eventually. Sure, perhaps they still ID you down at the supermarket when you're buying a nice bottle of wine (for the record, shoving your face at the startled cashier, drumming on the side of your eye with one finger, and snarling, 'Buddy, see these wrinkles? These are not the wrinkles of a seventeen year old!' does not count as ID) but the fact of the matter is, you're not as young as you allegedly look. And that same bottle of wine, shared between two responsible adults, is going to make you feel miserable the next morning.
(But if you drink it with lots of water in between, you'll be fine. Trust me.)
*I am not a doctor - this does not constitute medical advice or views. But, I'm right.
**By 'person', you have my permission to read 'goody-good'.
***Still not a doctor.