I remember thinking I must be some sort of booze-resistant superhero

Feature by David Bratchpiece | 13 Oct 2006
Ernest Hemingway advised "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." Homer Simpson was more full of praise: "Ah, to alcohol! The cause of – and solution to – all of life's problems." Both could make you think.

I still remember with astounding clarity the first time I got drunk. What makes this fact even more astounding is that there have been times within the last month that I've been drunk and I can't remember a single detail.

The first time it happened was, as with a great many people who have been raised in Scotland, at a remarkably early age. Fourteen, if you must know. Picture the scene: me, my mate Fraser, a quiet spot in a local park, and a quarter bottle of Grant's Vodka each. Fraser had been dispatched to purchase the booze in question. He was the proud owner of a wispy bit of chin hair that made him the obvious candidate to pass for someone over eighteen. When he returned carrying our eighty percent proof prizes, we thanked his early pubescent growth. Although, to be honest, it's not really difficult to be served a carry-out at any age in Motherwell. The local economy almost relies on under-age boozing.

Fraser helpfully informed me that we couldn't afford any mixer, so the only way forward was to open our throats and pour the entire contents of our bottles down in one swift motion, thereby consuming it before it actually had a chance to wreak havoc on our taste buds. Having never tasted vodka before myself, and being unaccustomed to the fact that drinking it neat is much like quaffing petrol, I gladly obliged. The whole bottle went down and, amazingly, stayed down. I was surprised, however, when there was no immediate effect. I remember thinking I must be some sort of booze-resistant superhero. I had just 'tanked' a quarter bottle and it didn't do anything.

"This bevvy malarkey is easy, I don't see what all the fuss is about," I thought. Half an hour later I was hanging from a lamppost in the town centre, demanding cigarettes from frail pensioners. Thankfully this was in the days before CCTV was as popular as it is now.

Thus began a love/hate relationship with the demon drink that continues to this day. I love the fact that sometimes, with 'a few' inside me, I can be the most charming and witty guy in the room. I hate that, after 'a few' more, I can be the most aggressive and vomit stained embarrassment in the room. I love that it can be a perfect social tool, a fun way to meet women. I hate that it can lead to nightmarish sexual encounters with girls who only looked great in a darkened nightclub. As NOFX once sang, "did you ever go to sleep with Bo Derek and wake up with Bo Diddley?"

If you want any evidence of the immediate downsides of the over-consumption of alcohol, take a stroll down Sauchiehall Street at around midnight. If you can emerge from the hordes of legless students and Teddy Smith shirted booze boys with your nerves intact, then you are probably a stronger person than I.

Then attempt to gain entry to the Garage nightclub whilst stone cold sober, and scratch your head incredulously as the bouncers knock you back but let a group of spectacularly inebriated lads in instead, as happened to me the other day. It's almost as if seeing extreme drunkenness is their norm, and anything else causes them to become suspicious.

And so back to my quote from Hemingway. Given that I wasn't allowed to do sober what I might normally do drunk, I'm considering his words with renewed curiosity. But last time I was drunk I said I'd quit drinking. I need new inspiration. What time does the carry-out shop shut?

Bratchy is a stand-up comedian who appears regularly in comedy clubs around the U.K. Normally as an act, but occasionally just propping up the bar.