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Starting early

April 10, 2013

It is 730 and I have just got in from a great day at work. I turned the kettle on, changed my mind, opened the fridge and poured out the remains of the Petit Chablis from last night. Bliss. Before the wine was even swallowed I was already enjoying it. And starting to wonder if I have a drinking problem. And dismissing it. But it set me thinking about the first time I got absolutely wrecked.
I was going out with a lad a couple of years older than me at school. I was 12 or 13 and he invited me to one of his classmates’ birthday party. It was in his house down the other end of town. I got there and was asked what I’d like to drink. They didn’t have vodka and lime (my tipple of preference at the time) so I didn’t know. My boyfiend suggested port and lemon. I had no idea what this even was, but apparently his mum drank it so he thought that would be appropriate. Why on earth did they have port but not vodka is an unanswered question even after all these years. It arrived in a white plastic cup and was an easy glug. Very sweet. Slipped down a treat. As did the susequent ones.
The next thing I remember is trying to walk home. Probably about a mile. And feeling fine. Hilarious. Everything was just hilarious. Got home and started feeling shocking. Violently ill. Vomiting red and yellow fluid. Disgusting. And the worst thing was that I still felt ill even after I’d vomited. A sure sign there was more to come.
My parents were out. My boyfriend must have taken me up to my bedroom and put me on the bed. I continued to vomit.And moan. I remember my parents coming home and coming in to my bedroom. My boyfriend (stupidly) was lying on the bed. I was unable to do anything about the panic rising in my chest so I shut my eyes and pretended to be asleep.
I could hear him saying “She only had one drink and then felt ill”. I recalled we had agreed this story at some point. My mother was shaking me, “Sarah, Sarah, are you alright?”. “I just had one drink and then felt ill,” I mumbled, “I must be allergic to it, like Nanny.” The latter stroke of genius referred to the fact that my grandmother got completely wasted on Pernod and my mother imsisted it was an allergy. It was no such thing I realised later, but my mother was very concerned about keeping up appearances and ‘not in front of the children’, that she spun us this yarn often enough for her to believe it herself.
I pulled on every performance bone in my body and continued the confusion and surprise that a mere sip of alcohol could do this to me. My parents couldn’t possibly have believed it, but couldn’t dismiss it or they’d have to admit my grandmother gets shit-faced on Pernod. And that doesn’t happen in my Mum’s family.
I am worried about the fact that my boyfriend is in my bedroom. Lying on my bed, cuddled up to me. This is probably more worrying than being pissed. But I hear my nice middle class mother thanking him for bringing me safely home.
Our kids would not have got the same reaction from me.

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7 Responses to “Starting early”

  1. tssr14 Says:

    brings back memories of sweet martini and lemonade……..Haven Arms, Ealing age 13…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I have only once seem someone throw up from port and it was awful- worst vomit ever. very bad!! let alone on a 12 year old girl! and great of that young boy to look after you vomming everywhere no wonder G&T weren’t angry at him xxx

  3. Lorna Kyle Says:

    I could not have been more wrong. When I read the title of this post,I honestly thought you were going to talk about Christmas presents….


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