I admit, I was very drunk at the time, very, very drunk. In mitigation m’lud I offer in evidence specimen #1, New Years Eve, it was New Years Eve you see, 1974, and people everywhere were very, very drunk so being very, very drunk on New Years Eve in 1974 was not an unusual state of mind to be in, in fact, and I insist that this is the truth, it was compulsory.
The night had started ordinarily enough, we (several dozen) had gathered at someones house, it was someone I had known from High School, sort of known vaguely, OK he wasn’t in our Form but he was in our Year and I knew him on nodding terms and for lads nodding terms is all that matters, its when you pass on a street and make a very brief nodding motion to the other, you don’t even need to say anything, you’re on nodding terms.
So I went to the house of this lad who I was on nodding terms with and he opened the door and we nodded to each other and he let me in mainly because of the large bottle of Scotch Whisky I was carrying at the time, the house was full of people some of whom I was also on nodding terms with, so we all nodded, and some of whom I had no idea of who they were, this is not important for it was a New Years Eve party and acquaintances and shared life experiences are not necessary at a New Years Eve house party, the music was loud, prog rock probably for the lad was into his prog rock, and motorbikes, more of which in the next paragraph, the beer flowed and soon I had opened the bottle of Whisky – that was my mistake right there.
I awoke several hours later, in the dark, in the garden, with blurred vision and an aching in my jaw, it was a cold icy night and I appeared to be lying on top of an old motorbike and judging by the light frost on me I may have been there some time, I lay there for some time trying to recall what it was that had led me to lay on top of a motorbike in a strangers garden on a cold icy night for an unknown length of time and while doing so I ran my tongue around top and bottom jaw to check for missing teeth, they all seemed to be present and correct and not even loose but in the moonlight there appeared to be a lot of blood on my shirt, and my jaw still ached.
Eventually I ventured back into the house where the party was still in full swing whereupon at my arrival into the kitchen it stopped being in full swing as everyone ceased their merriment to stare at me and a pretty sight I made too with two huge gashes across my chin and up to the corner of my mouth (think of The Joker in the Batman films), blood everywhere and what bits weren’t bloody being mainly laid to mud, it caused some consternation I can tell you and rather than tell everyone that I’d fallen over in the garden while staggering about looking for somewhere to take a piss I let them assume that a gang of big boys had done this to me whereupon all of the lads at the party ran outside and spent the next hour searching for the non-existent miscreants.
Fast forward to the following morning, having staggered back home in the early hours of New Years Day I found myself being awoken a few hours later by my father who like me was going to the traditional New Years Day rugby match at Headingley, him to help Ralph out in the players bar (help to drink the stock) and me to sell programmes at the south stand gates.
I had a shocking hangover and selling programmes was not on my agenda for the day, merely surviving without succumbing to death by hangover was the order of the day but all of this was soon forgotten when I walked into the living room and my dad looked up and saw what I’d done to my face whilst taking a piss the night before.
There was no sympathy from him, there was lots of talk of being “a bloody idiot” and of not drinking whisky if you can’t handle it, and of “what are you going to do with that bloody mess on your face” but eventually he calmed down, I washed gingerly around the open wounds and then we both decided that none of it needed stitching (it should have been) and I was slapped around the head (which didn’t help) and packed off in his car to go and sell programmes.
I sold more programmes that day than I had ever sold, made more commission that day than I ever did ever again, my chin was still bleeding, dripping onto the programmes that I held in the cruck of my arm but people didn’t seem to care, they stood in a huge group around me staring at my battle wounds and asking what the other fella had looked like, they were fascinated by my seeping face and every one of them wanted to know what the hell I had been doing to myself, “I fell on a motorbike” was what I said, hundreds of times to hundreds of them and it was basically true, I had fallen ON a motorbike, of course they heard that and thought that I’d fallen OFF a motorbike, probably at high speed and in that they couldn’t have been more wrong but I was in no position to correct them by saying “No, I fell ON a motorbike while I was taking a piss”, no, their version sounded better and so I left them to their imagination.
I still have the scars to this day, told you they should have been stitched.
Happy New Year and stay off the whisky, I’ve done it for you and its not pretty.