I blame celebrity Blogger Bennett McVeigh, The lovechild of the guy who played guitar for Fleetwood Mac that wasn't Peter Green, and Shirley Bassey, the Welsh brother of the decidedly American Oklahoma bomber and wearer of some spectacular hats. He has been taking up my time by exercising his writing muscle and making me cry into my weak lemon drink... Thus making it weaker, and less lemony...
So, it's now it's pretty much just drink...
And there's the writing of the next book, about robots and pirates and airships, that's been taking up a lot of time too... Got less than three weeks to get that written, so I'm going to make today's Blog a short one...
It starts in the past, as most of my memories do, and it involves Christmas, and motorcycles and alcohol.
Derby (UK), as some of you might know, was one of the hubs of the Industrial Revolution. We had silk mills and mass produced pottery and kids dying left, right and centre of black lung. But mostly, we had trains and train infrastructure.
There was a branch line of the Great Northern Railway in the west of the City that you can still explore, there are ghost lines and disused warehouses with rotten floors that will quite happily drop you thirty feet to the dark, rat infested cellars below... Great place, spent a lot of time there in the mid nineties. In fact, there're a few pictures of the place in question HERE by a chap that explored it long after these events took place. Although, in fairness it looked exactly the same, even the toilet (The fouth picture down) was just a disused urinal, and you did your best not to miss the hole that led to... Well, into the bowels of the Earth. Which was difficult because you had to keep your eyes closed to stop your retinas exploding from the smell.
It had everything you could ever wish for in a subterranean space, rivers of raw human waste, rats, suspiciously rusty looking water dripping from the brickwork and tree-roots coming through the ceiling. As an extra bonus, there was no real ventilation, and as a lot of business that used 'The Arches' were connected to the motor trade, the Carbon Monoxide levels were often pretty high, as were most of the people who worked there a lot of the time.
A guy I knew, I wouldn't call him a mate really, I can't even remember his name... Might have been Trev or Terry or something like that though now I come to mention it, owned a bike breakers in one of the aforesaid arches. He was, in the best tradition of such people, a bit 'Woooo' and a bit 'Weyyyy'
Characterised by the time that he offered me a fixer-upper 1943 Harley Davidson WL45 motorcycle for a set number of 'Goes' on my then girlfriend (To my eternal shame I did actually think about it, but she informed me that the correct answer was, in fact, 'no')
Anywho, Trev, Terry, T-Dog whatever his name was, suggested that 'The Lads' go for a Christmas Eve wander around town, starting when the pubs opened and finishing... Well, no fixed finishing time was set, as such. We were going to start at his 'Arch' at about 10ish, have a few cans and then sally forth. Which is what we did, except that between the 'few cans' and getting to the pub, there was a brief alcoholic interlude.
A bottle appeared, with no label on it, its contents were clear, but luminous yellowy-green... Much, I expect, like a urine sample from Dr Bruce Banner.
|This wasn't it exactly... But it should have been|
'I made it myself...' Said the T-Meister, which bearing in mind the analogy above, was very probably true.
I sniffed it, it was definitely vodka, but with delicate notes of halibut and primroses. I wiped the brim on my sleeve and took a deep swig, swallowing quickly, reasoning that the less time it spent in my mouth, the better. And it didn't taste that bad, it had the smoky aftertaste that one normally associates with french-kissing a rhinocerous, but other than that, perfectly passable.
We emptied the bottle between us and went to the pub.
It only took an hour or so for the first one of us to go blind...
My legs wandered off for a little unattended walk of their own, leaving me balanced precariously on a bench, in a beer-garden, in the snow. Terence sat down next to me, giggling to himself, plucking imaginary butterflies from his beard.
'Dude, what was in that vodka?'
'Hmmmm? Vodka? Skunk mate..?'
'Skunks?' I giggled to myself, wondering why it didn't have black and white stripes in that case.
'Nah-nah-nah.. Not skunks... skunk... Marry-Jew-Wana.'
I laughed uncontrollably for a while, looked at the pretty patterns in my bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, then I made my way back home, dragging myself with the only muscles that I still had control over...
Drugs are bad kids, especially if you ingest them completely by accident.
Just say No! (No really, do, they're tremendously bad for you.)