Since writing The Story of Gloucester’s Pubs I spend a lot of time writing and talking about pubs and drinking, not least in this blog. As a consequence, people think that I drink far more than I actually do. In reality, it has been said that I am a bit of a lightweight – especially now that I drink cider, which tends to be on the strong side. If I ever had a drinking head, I seem to have lost it.
This means that when I do go out drinking, I get drunk worryingly quickly. The following is a cautionary tale of one such occasion.
My story begins on one of my recent ‘research’ trips around the pubs of Gloucester. As is often the way, I fell into bad company during the course of this research and, against my better judgement, was persuaded to finish the evening in the Cafe Rene. Being easily led, I was there for some time: until the early hours of the morning in fact.
Despite this, I managed to find my way home and into bed without incident.
A couple of hours later I was awoken by an urgent call of nature – the cider was insistently demanding to be recycled without delay.
Now I am a thoughtful, considerate person, even when drunk, so when such calls of nature happen in the middle of the night I do not turn on the light and wake up my wife. Instead I have a system for finding my way to the bathroom in the dark. My system is this: I get up and follow the bed down to the end; I then follow on around the foot of the bed for a couple of small steps, turn my back to the bed and walk forward with my arm outstretched. My hand soon makes contact with the door, which I quietly open, and the bathroom is then immediately on my right. Simple.
So that is what I did: I got up and followed the bed down to the end; I then followed on around the foot of the bed for a couple of small steps, turned my back to the bed and walked forward with my arm outstretched. My hand made contact with something that felt suspiciously like a window. Perplexing.
I stepped backwards again and sat on the foot of the bed to contemplate this unexpected turn of events, as all the while my bladder increased its insistent demands.
That can’t possibly have been a window, I thought: some mistake surely. I tried again. It was definitely a window.
I returned to the foot of the bed and sat again, by now somewhat alarmed and discombobulated.
I had clearly gone wrong somewhere, so there was only one thing to do: I would retrace my steps and try again.
And so I followed my way along the foot of the bed, turned the corner and felt my way along back up to the head end and went to sit down. And missed.
I hit the ground with an almighty thump, loud enough to wake not only my wife, but probably the neighbours and, quite possibly, half the street.
It was as I hit the ground, painfully grazing my elbow, that I remembered I had gone to bed in the spare room…