Canterbury Drinking.

Good afternoon. You know, some years ago, i was buying Crash magazine, so that I could play a demo of Dizzy, the Codemasters classic featuring a sentient egg on a mission to destroy an evil wizard. Times were good, Jeremy Clarkson had just been buried and missiles were heading towards the moon. I had my first experience being haunted by the ghost of a tree. We were all doing it back then.

Now, some twenty years on, the Crayfish SuperBox 2011 is the machine of choice. Kids play it in car parks. Builders play it while doing dangerous tea drinking. Even Pat Butcher’s got one. She rubs out one while playing Oedipus Complex 2011. Today, I am experiencing a hangover which appears to have a mild, continuous heart attack as it’s main theme. This is all because of a bout I am experiencing lately of drinking to alleviate stress. Never a good thing, but this isn’t a fucking AA meeting.

I began this saunter with a couple of Amstels in the Old Buttermarket, Canterbury’s central Mitchell’s and Butler’s hovel shack. I used to work there, in a kitchen the size of a match-box. To say I hated it was the same level of understatement as saying a Matt Cardle cover version is a bit weak. I didn’t like it, I don’t like cheffing, but i’m forced to do it until I can find a precious watch or, somehow manage to write for a living. Ha ha.

While smoking, a friend turned up. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. His name is Graham. We used to stay up drinking until five in the morning when we both worked at the Bell Inn. Times have changed us both. He’s quite well to do. Acts a little like Richard E Grant circa Withnail and I. He suggested that we go to a new place that’s opened up. As soon as we walk in, I notice it’s the sort of place I would normally stay away from. It’s a bar/restaurant thing, and has a glass floor on it’s second level. As i walk across it, I keep expecting the thing to disintegrate, and to shatter with my bloodied body falling through it, like in a film or something. A man who has the world’s densest beard greets us, he is the owner. He owns a bar in Ramsgate that I once got so drunk in, that I wandered off without my friends, ending up weeping outside a train station.

We sit down and order drinks from a menu. This is not my world at all. I only ever order food from a menu. I don’t like it. It seems unnatural, like a dog in a suit conducting a orchestra of robots. Graham is all suited up and clearly schooled, snappy and assured in his position. I feel like a tramp out on the pull with Alan Sugar.

We get the beers. They’re surprisingly cheap, and strong. The glasses are firm and self-consciously curved. What’s this phenomenon of shaping glasses like absurd shapes anyway? What’s next? A Guiness glass in the shape of a fucking canoe?  You know, a pint of Amstel in a shoe, please. A FUCKING SHOE.

He also orders oysters. I’ve never eaten an oyster. I don’t want to again. They look like they taste, like seminal fluids in a slippery skin. Slipping down the throat seems oddly fluid, an original concept. Instead of chewing, you just tip it back. I suppose that’s better than tasting the damned thing. And, instead of being an aphrodisiac, they make me feel rather ill. I’m glad when they’ve gone.

He then orders linguini. That’s a crab based one. I try that, it’s okay, but i’d still prefer a hastily made sandwich than that. If I owned a business, i’d specialise in the sort of food you make when you’ve got to rush. For people like that. They would come in and go….

“I need a fucking sandwich in two seconds, mate, i’m late for a dog stalking appointment.” and i’d hand them a bit of bread folded over with a rakish slab of cheese in it. Easy. One pound. I’d make millions, because let’s face it, we are all late for something.

He finished that, then we went here:

It used to be the Orange Street Music Club, a gritty box room with pictures on the wall of Jagger, Bowie, all the guys, and gutsy, intimate bands inter-mixed with lurid poetry and cracking atmosphere. Now, it looks like the wrapper of a packet of Dairy Milk. Purple, dim lights, tables that look like a giant splatter of brown paint and are guaranteed to shatter a shin on contact. Already drunk, I feel like i’m getting drunk inside the absolute centre of the colour blue. Graham and I study the cocktails list. They’re all expensive and pretentious. But the pinnacle is the Hendricks Prohibition Punch, a positive fucking steal at eleven ninety five. It’s stronger than ten steel walls and tastes like sweets. I am wasted as soon as it hits my tongue. Whether it is this state or not that is responsible, I lean back and think about what i’m doing.

Drinking in dark purple box and sipping cocktails from a teacup, served in a fucking teapot. It’s like i’m at the weirdest tea party in the world. I’m saying things to Graham, and i don’t remember any of it. He goes to get another one. I find myself at the train station, apparently an hour later, without knowing anything of in-between. Graham arrives, and wonders why I left. So do i. The train ride home is uneventful. I get home, and wake up with a bowel and a head that are having a meeting to decide who wants to blast me first.


About neilstilwell

Abseiling into trouble, a sewer rat staring at the stars. Disgusting. You can assist my search for the one ring by buying a Kindle version of this diary from here. It has some other stuff in it, and a dreadful cover.
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