Oh dear. Never again. That’s the last time I get drunk in a public place. Lord knows there’s been enough warning signals recently that I should avoid excess alcohol, being one of those people who mutate into a loud, lairy, reckless, unpredictable liability when pissed. There was that dangerous scene in the Michaelston, that excruciating misjudgement in the Billabong, that crazy lapse in the Mackintosh Institute, the shameful moment during my local’s quiz when the whole pub fell silent as I went thermo-nuclear at full volume over absolutely nothing, those arse-over-tit tumbles in Cowbridge Road East, City Road and Broadway, the nihilistic adventures, the ludicrous Dutch courage…no, no, it’s got to stop.
Problems arise when a) I’m out alone unsupervised without my partner or a close friend, and b) when I exceed my 4-pint you’ve-had-enough threshold. Then anything can happen as my usual withdrawn and detatched public persona is suddenly replaced by a far too disinhibited loose cannon, overcompensating wildly and making up for lost time. Such was the scenario last weekend. It was late. I’d had six pints plus numerous large scotches. I’d already had to be rescued from an extremely ill-advised contretemps with three hulking gypsy boys at the pool table when I waded into a fairly civilised discussion two mates were having about the Falklands War, of all things. When the War was actually going on, Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) likened it to “two bald men fighting over a comb.” Thirty years later, this was like three blokes with brewers’ droop squabbling over the Viagra. My inflammatory interruptions, ripe language, repeated use of the word “Malvinas” and aggressive manner ensured it all rapidly went ballistic, and matters then took a turn for the worse when I told my Simon Weston “joke” (no, I am not going to repeat it here – rest assured it’s as dreadful as you are imagining). Well, one thing led to another and eventually I was escorted off the premises. And that’s when my troubles began.
“Blow job Mister? £20?” said a waif-like girl hovering in the shadows as I staggered homewards. I rummaged round in my pockets, slurring “I’ve got no cash, you take Visa Debit?” “Fuck off poof,” she hissed with what passes for repartee round these parts before disappearing into the night. I continued my journey, bouncing off walls along the way. “Hey man, want some weed?” called a hooded figure from his bike (Cardiff is a city awash with entrepreneurs). I was about to reply when my leading foot stubbed against a kerb and I plunged towards the pavement. I should have let myself fall and taken a few cuts and grazes, but I tried to right myself in mid-air, yanking a leg back on itself and twisting in one movement. Instead of hitting the ground I ended up slamming my left leg from hip to knee into the wall of a house. Because I was so anaesthetised I felt next to nothing. I dusted myself down and got home with no further mishaps. It was only when I woke the following morning that the pain kicked in…
I’m no stranger to extreme pain, having at various times over the years broken a leg, broken a wrist, cracked a rib, dislocated a shoulder, torn a cartilage, ruptured a ligament, burst an appendix and boarded an unpressurised aircraft with a loose filling (believe it or not, that last one was the worst). However, all that experience now counted for nothing (that’s the trouble with experience: it’s soon forgotten). For a few days it was so bad I thought I’d fractured my femur, as I was unable to put any weight at all on my leg. Gradually, with the assistance of Co-codamol, Ibuprofen and Deep Heat, the bruising healed, swelling reduced and agony eased through last week.
It’s not right by any means – feeling disconcertingly like I’m minus a kneecap – and I’ve had to put a lot of my planned Cardiff excursions on hold, but I did manage to limp down the pub yesterday to apologise for my behaviour. It turns out I needn’t have worried because, far from being the outrage I remembered, the whole incident was seen as hilarious entertainment, a free cabaret laid on by yours truly to spice up a routine Friday. I’m now envisaging an alternative future as a performance artist, unleashing stream-of-consciousness diatribes at Chapter over a nu-jazz soundtrack in front of a slideshow of old Tiger Bay. Or has that already been done?