The Wineflair in the Hollylands is stationed in a very dodgy area, the walk down from mine is only five minutes but it feels like you’re moving from Jerusalem to Gaza. There’s bars on the windows, for obvious reasons. You gotta hit a wee buzzer to get in. You climb up a wee wooden ramp to get into the off license, which is very considerate for alcoholics in wheelchairs.
I walk about for thirty seconds just to get the ID ready and then ask for the dirtiest, cheapest vodka they have. The girl at the till hands me a bottle of Glen’s, price of £12.99. That last bit surprised me at first. I mind buying that exact same bottle at Christmas as a gift for my bitch sister, could have sworn it’d cost me less than a fiver.
Sure as fuck tasted like it.
For the foreigners in the audience, let me add a bit of context. Glen’s is a Scottish vodka that’s about 35.7% alcohol, which I’m told is a lot. It’s cheap and tastes like shit. Unlike other brands such as Smirnoff, Glen’s does not burn your throat. It burns your soul and liver. Fortunately for me, I don’t have the former. By the end of this article, you’ll understand why it’s a bad idea to either buy or drink Glen’s.
After a rough night at work I’ll usually order a shot of Vodka, typically they serve me Smirnoff. My colleagues think I’m mad or something like that for drinking raw vodka. One of them even suggested that I drink it with ice cause “y’know, it tastes less like shit“. Which would defeat the point of why I take the shot in the first place.
If it didn’t hurt to drink, I wouldn’t drink it. Things happen to you during a twelve odd hour shift. You deal with a lot of cunts, you get angry a lot- all these little things pile up so much that you can’t quite talk about it, especially if you’re me and your bad at talking in general. So, I drink raw vodka.
Earlier this week around Monday I was invited to a birthday thing by one of my colleagues at work, ginger boy. I says aye and so I get ready to head out. I come back to the flat after buying the Glen’s from the off license. It’s been a bitch of a day at that point. Sleeping pattern is fucked, Uni is simultaneously stressing and boring me. To top it all off the weather is terrible, like an abortion from God.
I leave the bottle on the table and, a wee bit curious, I get a glass from the cupboard. The glass in question is a weird one, it’s like a pint glass fucked a tumbler glass. Found it on the way home from work one night outside of Pug Ugly’s, coincidentally I was with the ginger boy.
I’d been hesitant to drink from it because, well, I found it on the street. Drowned it in boiling water when I got home and there it laid in the cupboard, untouched. I thought if I’m gonna drink Glen’s a might as well risk getting Syphilis as well, so I poured a shot and downed it. Tasted like a mixture of piss and battery acid.
I spend the rest of the day doing some work and then doing some exercise. I’m not going to bore you with my workout routine, but it usually ends with me so sore I can barely use my hands. On this day I ended it with another shot of vodka, which turns out is a mistake cause I nearly threw up.
It’ll surprise a lot of people that recently met me to learn that I was a fat kid. But not just any fat kid, I was both fat and ginger- a double entendre of ugly. The other kids never let me forget it which means my self esteem is practically non existent. Working out is less of a lifestyle choice and more of a commandment.
My flatmate has seen me shirtless a few times and has told me, and his friends, that I “look like Bane from the Dark Knight Rises” which is….weird, to me. I don’t know how to feel about it. Cause its a very strange compliment. On one hand, Tom Hardy is a very great actor, very handsome man and he was pretty damn buff as Bane. On the other, nobody- and I mean nobody- wants to fuck Bane.
That’s not even getting into how Christopher Nolan had to orientate the camera angles to make Tom look taller than he actually was.
The flatmate in question is a strange and sad creature. The early Spaniards called him “pequeño demonio de satanás” which translates to “tiny demon of Satan“. The Celt’s named him “plá an anam” meaning “plague on the soul“. The British settlers of Ulster known him as “the Leper under Toome Bridge“. We however know him as the Acne Ridden Manlet.
Longtime readers will be familiar with this snide, pitiful creature. He’s my flatmate. He’s also moving out next September, which greatly inconveniences me. Honestly, I’ve been nothing but kind to him.
He comes into the kitchen while I’m cooking to talk some shit. Each jibe is an attempt for him to lure me into brutally murdering him, releasing him of his cursed existence. i however, resist the urge to kill him. Which may be one of the reasons he is so keen in moving, he feeds off the life force of others like a parasite. I however, am dead inside, so he remains malnourished. That and he forgets to eat his goddamn food.
I have a few glasses of Vodka-Sprite while tearing into some chicken and kale. Usually you’re supposed to eat before going out for drinks, not eat alongside your pre-drinks. For some reason I thought it a good idea to eat dinner buzzed. Eh, its one of my more minor mistakes. Biggest is probably thinking I was skilled enough to pursue GCSE Art.
The manlet and I had an interesting conversation about our respective parents. Namely, we commended them for not hitting us as kids. Which is a big deal if you knew the craic with the older generations in Ireland. Back forty years ago, if you lived in the big towns or cities in Northern Ireland, you grew up in the Troubles. If you lived in the country however, you grew up in severe poverty.
My Da is only about fifty seven. He grew up drinking out of a well. Didn’t have electricity in his house until the late seventies, didn’t have indoor heating or decent plumbing till the eighties. All the while he and his siblings had to walk miles on end to get to school. When you got to school, they beat you. When you got home, your parents beat you- cause you got beat at school.
This kind of abuse fucks a person up. But for some reason, the majority of their generation opted out of corporal punishment. Matter of fact I don’t think I grew up with one kid whose parents hit them like that.
It’s a surreal change I imagine for my parents generation. Grow up drinking water out of a well, end up watching re-runs of Jurassic World on ITV6 in an absurdly comfortable living room.
By the time I finish dinner, half the Vodka in the bottle is gone. I’m too tipsy to wash up, the Manlet is too shit to do it either. Safe to say he’d live in squalor if it wasn’t for me. He smells like them sulphurous old ladies you sit by in mass, who are drenched in so much cheap perfume to cancel out the stench of death.
By half eight I grab the vodka and head out. Spend the next twenty odd minutes marching through the wind and rain. Took me longer than I’m prouder to admit that despite living in South Belfast for the better part of six months, I had no fucking clue how to get to Elms Village.
Fifteen minutes later I’m there, trying to look as sober as possible. I meet the ginger boy and his friends. I’m too drunk to banter so I just walk in silence, trying not to say or do anything fucked up- which apparently I’m prone to do when I’m drunk.
I get to his flat and there’s a dozen other people there. For some odd reason I felt the need to impress these people, so I took out the bottle and and gulped way more than is healthy. I’ve only been there thirty seconds and they already think I’m insane. Great. Why the fuck did I feel the need to impress a bunch of nineteen year olds? I’m twenty for fuck sake.
I take part in a drinking game that I and most of the others didn’t know the rules to. I’m cautious about throwing up at this point so any time the table takes a drink, I take a drink out of my water. The table didn’t take any notice, I felt pure smart.
Or at least I did until I went to the toilet and became super fucking paranoid. I don’t know what the craic is with the ventilation system at Elms but it’s fucking scary when you’re that drunk. Your mid piss and you hear the voices from the kitchen. But not like they’re across the corridor, like every single person is standing right outside that toilet with the sole purpose of shit talking you as soon as you exit. Honestly it felt like someone had shifted the toilet into the middle of the kitchen so that you could hear everything.
At some point I find myself locked outside, which was a blessing in disguise really cause I needed to calm down. I can become a bit showboaty or standoffish when I’m drunk. It’s one of my most notable and I’ve made great strides at suppressing them, while sober. Drunk Des is a whole new beast.
Eventually someone was kind enough to let me back in. I get back to drinking and I find myself sitting beside two or three girls at the main table. I think one of them tried to talk to me. She was either trying to be polite or they thought I looked cute or something. A few jumbled sentences come pouring out of my mouth and she’s like “nope” and the entire interaction grinds to a halt.
I don’t blame her. I honestly don’t think there’s anything more unattractive to a woman than a drunk man.
By the time I leave the ginger boy’s flat it’s about half ten or something. I look at the liquid remaining in the Glen’s bottle. There was so little left that you couldn’t even fill a shot glass. Believe it or not, I had planned on sharing that bottle. Now I was baffled at how I was still alive.
I head downstairs alongside the others to get the taxi to Limelight, I get the last one with the ginger boy. I’m pretty damn drunk at this point so I can’t remember exactly what I said, I hope to God it wasn’t too fucked up.
We get to Limelight and low and behold everyone gets in except five of us. We get into a few lines and by the time we reach the door the bouncers throw us back out to the streets. The ginger boy crying out “I work in a bar!” as he stumbles out to the curve. Honestly, fair play to the bouncers. I wouldn’t have let me in either.
We stand outside for a few minutes, trying to make a game plan. One girl tells a guy “Honestly, get some therapy dude cause right now you’re being a cunt” which is such a brutal put down that I hope to god she wasn’t talking to me. The ginger boy talked about his plan, which was to do a lap to calm down the drunk ones and then head back to Limelight. If we fail, we go to our pub.
Thankfully I talked him into not doing that. Namely because it was a Monday, which means that the restaurant ones were in there drinking the place dry. Last thing my boss needs is for me to show up and pass out, face down, in a urinal.
We end up doing a lap of…I dunno, a block I guess? Swear to fuck I felt like we were stuck in a concrete Maze of Minos. At some pint we lose sight of the ginger boy, it’s just me, two other boys and some girl. I get friendly with this tall, skinny blond guy. Not necessarily because I liked him, but because I had a bad vibe on him and I thought it best to keep him away from the girl.
When you get drunk, you show people who you really are. In sobriety you’ve enough sense to follow those social cues and codes so that you can at least present to be a normal or decent person. But when your drunk, you’re like a computer running on half its RAM. You start to forgo certain pleasantries.
If you’re a violent man, you’ll be a violent drunk. If you’re a creepy man, you’ll be a creepy drunk. If you’re a raging asshole, well- you write a few articles now and again about your night outs.
I mind overhearing a conversation one-night at work, between the bar staff and the bouncer. The latter of which was going on about the crazy fights he’d been in. He talks about how drunks are so annoying, particularly drunk women. That last bit offended one of the girl’s working the bar, for obvious reasons.
I never got the reason why he thinks drunk women are worse than men. I suppose it’s because with men, there’s a certain understanding that if you cross a line then you will get punched in the face. With women, that line doesn’t exist. It’s socially unacceptable to ever hit a woman, which I imagine makes being a bouncer more difficult cause they’re constantly screaming in your face.
So I imagine, what the bouncer meant by this, is that he finds drunk women more annoying to deal with than drunk men. But here’s the thing, I’ve never felt concerned for my well being when I’ve encountered a drunk girl. I never felt the need to ball my hands up into fists when crossing a drunk girl in the streets, in case she was going to start a scrap. I never had to act friendly with a drunk girl because I was concerned she’d be dodgy with one of the other people in the group.
But I have had to do that with men, and on this one night I met a pure dodgy boy. Like I said, when you’re drunk you reveal who you really are. I knew exactly what this guy was the minute I started talking to him and if he had any sense he’d have figured out what exactly I was.
Namely, the wrong guy to try and scam out of his ID.
So we’re walking about an alleyway, acting pure friendly, engaging in Pub talk. We’re ina hysterical mood. He says to me in this jolly tone “Here, give us your ID!” to which I respond in that same tone “No!” at this point he tries squeezing my hands, so I crush his hands till he falls to his knees.
Mixture of 400 Push Ups a day and lifting all them bottle bins turns your hands into a goddamn vice.
He pleas for me to stop, I oblige. He gets back up and complains about how sore that was, same jolly tone. He then tries to convince me to hand him my ID, again. I say no again, pure jolly. He asks “Why not?” laughing to which I say “Because I don’t trust you lad!” hysterically.
At this point, something snaps in him. He starts laughing and tries choking me “Just give me your ID lad” he says, still jolly. As he tries to squeeze his goddamn scarecrow fingers, I raise my right hand and grab his gullet. I squeeze down hard and two seconds later, this cunt falls to his knees- tapping at my arm to let go.
I release him, he’s not too happy. He gets up and says “Why you strangling me for?” to which I say, pure jolly “I don’t know, lad…why did I.” Honestly, I was pretty drunk at the time so the memory of the event is jaded- at best. So, yeah. It’d be pretty fucked up if it turned out I nearly choked out a guy for no goddamn reason.
I’d convinced the others, ten minutes earlier, to head on home. The girl and one of the guy had fucked off to curt, presumably. Ginger boy had been gone for a good while at that point. Which left me and Blondie here, walking back to Limelight. All the while he’s still trying to convince me to hand over my ID.
This boy was both dodgy and a moron, which is a bad mix because to be successfully dodgy- you at least have to be smart. Firstly, you should have realised I would never give you anything the moment I almost broke your hands- never mind the fact that I almost choked you out. Then, and this is a major flaw in his plan, he looks nothing like me.
We get back to Limelight, first moment he turns his back I ditch him and march on home through the wind and rain. I get home, it’s barely midnight. Flatmate is still up. I talk to him briefly, say I’ll tell him about my night- which I was planning to, but I had to throw up first.
Ten minutes later I’m laying in bed, emptying my pockets and find a bottle opener. It was the ginger boy’s, I must have accidentally stolen it from him. Weird. I send a photo of it into the work group chat, we engage in a bit of drunk banter to which one of the others responded “please, can you guys talk privately?” yeah…sorry about that, guys.
I pass out and wake up at eight o’clock in the fucking morning. I maxed out on my body’s ability to sleep so I just lie there, in bed, sweating Vodka. Hours go by while I lay in this morbid state. I tell myself that if I don’t eat, I will throw up again- the body needs food to soak up the poison.
But every-time I rise from bed, I either collapse from exhaustion or refuse to leave the warm embrace of bed- as if it were a surrogate womb.
Eventually noon comes around and the inevitable happens. I rise from bed, feeling the need to boke. Problem is I boked up everything in my system the night before. So what ends up coming out of my body is a series of coughing-choking noises and what I can only presume is a cocktail of kale water and stomach bile.
Afterwards, my throat is burning and will feel raw for the next two days. I look down in the toilet and see that the liquid I boked up is a light green. Last time I boked it was black in texture. Other times its either red, brown, or yellow. Someday I hope to get all the colours of the rainbow.
Y’know, reader. It’s a very morbid feeling you get when you’re laying on the bathroom floor, half naked, with your back to the wall and all your strength urging your head not to bounce off the toilet seat. For one thing, you wonder why the floor is wet- why is it always wet? Is it case there’s no window so the shower vapour just lays there or is there a leak? Is it even water? God, you hope it’s water.
But mostly you think about your life. Where you’re going, how you’re planning to get there and whether or not this very moment is a giant detour from your journey. You begin to question your life choices, whether or not you’re a good person, whether or not there’s hope of change or if this is just it. This is the best you can do.
After a while though, you gotta get up and eat. No point lying in bed when you’re soaked in Vodka Sweat and what you hope is just water. You gotta drain out the poison and let the hangover depression take its tole on you. You are not done living until you say so.
Y’know, this series of articles typically ends with a life lesson of some kind or a profound examination of life. But this lesson is pretty easy, pretty mundane and ultimately- very common sense. Firstly, don’t be a dodgy cunt. Secondly, don’t get drunk on pre-drinks- the aim is to get tipsy at best– and finally, never- ever– drink Glen’s.