Category Archives: Al Vimh

All things Al

Smashed Pumpkins (A Treatise On Inebriation And The Measurement Thereof)

I’ve spent more than my fair share of nights in assorted bars and clubs up and down the land, indulging in the devil’s brew. That’s a fancy-shmancy way of saying that i’ve been standing-up-falling-down-pissed a whole bunch of times.

Now sure, it’s not big and it’s not clever. There’s nothing sensible about drinking enough alchohol to leave you near blind, clutching a kebab like some sort of baffling, spiced life preserver. That being said, I enjoy certain alchoholic beverages, I enjoy spending time with friends and I enjoy socialising, so long as it’s on my own terms and I get to tell people to piss off if they come within six feet of me on an off day.

With all that in mind, i’ll not apologise for occasionally failing to drink responsibly. I won’t advise others to do it and i’ll happily spread the words of moderation and taking care of one’s self, so long as it’s understood that my vomit scented days of old are something i’m one hundred percent A-OK with.

These days, I rarely take a drink but as I write this at a little shy of 1am on a Saturday morning, i’m faced with the very real prospect of spending an evening in the company of John Barleycorn and his lesser known cousin, Mike Largebottleofbloodygoodsinglemalt.

As I ponder possibilities for the day and night ahead of me, I decide to listen to some music and my random Youtube playlist lands on 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins. Thoughts of ice cold mojitos, combined with the pleasantly melancholy wailing of Billy-Why-Can-I-Not-Leave-TNA-To-Fucking-Die-Corgan cause a sudden spark of inspiration within me. Could Smashing Pumpkins be the answer to an issue which has plagued mankind since time began(ish)?

Picture the scene. An 18 year old me, firm of thigh and thick of ginger mane, steps out into the world. After a glass or two of sweet sherry, one of my friends turns to me…

DAVE*: “Hey Jim, is Dave** coming out tonight?”

ME: “He said he was. Hang on, i’ll ring him.”

After three attempts, I manage to find Dave’s number and start a call. He picks up after a couple of rings.

DAVE: “Hello mate, i’m headed out the door now”

ME: “WAHEEEYYYYYYYYYYY”

DAVE: *laughter* “Bloody hell, how drunk are you?”

This happened. More than once. Usually, i’d say something like “Hahahahahaha” or, if I was feeling particularly eloquent, “Yeahhhh yeah hahahahaha alright”. I am and always have been a man of words.

The thing is, what was I supposed to say? How do you explain to someone what level of drunkenness you’ve reached? What’s the scale?

This morning, with Corgan assaulting my ears and half formed plans for debauchery in my future, I realised something. This will change your lives.

You are ALWAYS “Smashing Pumpkins” drunk.

The real question is, just how Smashing Pumpkins drunk are you? Let me break it down for you.

“It’s just playing in the background while I get ready”

You haven’t touched a drop.

“It’s fine, i’m 1979 drunk”

This is the start of the night. You’ve maybe had a couple of beers, relaxed a wee bit. You’re enjoying 1979, with it’s soft spoken verses and easy singalong chorus. Things are going great.

“Haha, i’m Today drunk!”

You’ve had a couple more drinks and you’re fine, you’re totally fine.

You’re a little giggly and you’re singing along to Today with a wee bit more volume than is absolutely necessary, but you’re fine.

Everything is fine.

Kebab and a taxi soon.

Fine.

“Mate, oh mate. I’m Stand Inside Your Love drunk.”

You’re six pints and four shots into the evening. An evening which is edging ever closer to being a morning. You’ve spent the last half an hour discussing lost love and lamentation, although not in those exact terms. In fact, mostly you’ve half sobbed the words to Stand Inside Your Love, mumbled “s’was our song mate. Our song. We saw it inna-inna-inna film”. This would be a good time to head home, drink some water and get some sleep.

“I’m so sorry about last night. I was Ava Adore drunk.”

This stage sneaks up on you when you’re alone.

If you’re lucky, you managed to get a ride home or a taxi, or you live close enough to walk. If you’re exceptionally fortunate, your transport has dropped you safely to the door of your actual house. What’s more likely is that you’ve been dropped off at what you insisted was the entrance to your driveway, only to find yourself being menaced by a cat that you didn’t know you had, before realising that you’ve gotten out of the car half a mile early.

Eventually, you stagger through the door of your house. It took you five attempts to unlock the door, after first shoving the key into the letter box three times, gouging the door frame on the fourth attempt and for reasons you’ll never understand to your dying day, rounding out by putting it in the hanging basket and hoping somehow that the door would pop open due to proximity of key to lock.

You get as far as the living room and collapse on the sofa because the stairs look, to you, like something that Escher drew during that one night when he took enough ‘shrooms to kill Kong.

Despite having drank every drop of alchohol within a 20 mile radius of your house, you’ve managed to dig out the bottle of Midori that’s been gathering dust in the hall cupboard since your housewarming party, six years ago.

You jab your phone into life and send a barrage of texts, messages and DMs which will slowly reduce every friendship and working relationship you have ever built to ash while you sleep. Some of them would involve blurry close-up pictures of your genitalia but in a single, blissful moment of good fortune, you switched to selfie cam and so several people, one of whom is bound to be your aunt, receive images of your I-hope-my-willy-looks-amazing-in-this face.

You finally pass out and are found the next day by your loved ones, a sticky puddle of Midori gluing your face to the couch cushions, a half eaten burger turned to pulp in your pocket and Ava Adore on loop, blaring through one earbud which you have stuck up your nose.

You have gone full Pumpkin.

* There’s always a Dave

** We have two.

This was written for comedy purposes, folks. Always drink responsibly and never, EVER go full Pumpkin.

New Years Eve: Then And Now

2016 wasn’t so bad. For me, anyway.

Oh, on a worldwide scale it’s been a bloody horror. For a start, many of my cultural icons have died. People who have a genuine place in my heart, people who created films, music and other works which are tied to cherished memories which will forever now feel tinged with sadness.

Then there’s the current political climate. I personally think Brexit was a bloody stupid idea and Donald Trump is a bloody stupid…man? Lizard? Gone-over-orange-in-a-wig? Whatever. The point is, whatever you think of Farage or Trump or May or any of them, everything is kind of up in the air right now and that’s scary as hell, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, 2016 had a lot of good moments for me and my loved ones, was riddled with absolute arse for the world as a whole and while i’ve no reason personally to detest it, i’ll not be sorry to see this year breathe its last as 2017 comes screaming out of the metaphorical birth canal and takes responsibility for the next three hundred and sixty five days of nonsense.

What I want to talk about right now, folks, is New Year’s Eve itself. The evening of the 31st of December, leading into the wee small hours of January 1st, often spent in the company of a shitload of alchohol and a whole lot of poor decisions.

I remember some years ago, me and my friend Big Dave (honestly) set off on a pub crawl around Crewkerne, our old stomping ground. We would have been around eighteen or nineteen years old and had plans to hook up with the rest of our merry crew later that night to ring in the new year but we first decided we would head out to a wee village pub not far from us.

The plan was simple. Enjoy an early evening ale at The Globe, walk the mile or so back into town and hit every one of the I-can’t-remember-but-I-want-to-say-12 pubs that were open at the time and round out the night with much carousing in the Crown, our local.

I remember spending at least half an hour at the bar in Ip’s Palace, a local Chinese restaurant, because they had excellent prawn crackers and reasonably priced Budweiser.

I seem to recall drinking about one quarter of a pint in the Nags Head before leaving, after realising that it wasn’t beer we were drinking, really. It was more like beer flavoured dog piss. Bloody awful pub, the Nags, but it’s now a very nice Indian takeaway, so there’s a thing.

I have a slightly fuzzy recollection of making it back to the Crown a little before 12 and fighting my way to the bar to order a drink, before linking arms with my companions, belting out a slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne and tongue kissing someone, no idea of their identity or gender, before moving on to the serious business of building a Sidekicks pyramid the height of the bar.

That was then. This is now.

I am a 32 year old, much married father of two and New Year’s Eve, 2016, finds me draped across the sofa in my cosiest pyjamas. They are fleecy and tartan and feel like being hugged by some sort of Scottish angel made of warm clouds. I am drinking Lucozade, because I am ill, but it’s Lucozade Zero, because i’m diabetic and actual Lucozade would probably kill me.

Some of my family are getting together tonight to ring in the bells but i’ve had to say no. I can’t stand up without wanting to fall down, both of the kids have been rough as hell over Christmas and asides from the fact that I fear the winter may take me, i’m buggered if i’m going to be patient zero in the plague that kills off the McLellan clan. They all understand and sad as I am to not be with them tonight, it’s the best thing, really. I’ll give them a bell around midnight and they know I love them and all that other soppy, human stuff, so that’s fine. So what AM I up to?

I’m watching Pokemon trading card pack openings on Youtube with Child Unit 2. In fairness, he’s playing Geometry Dash on the tablet and i’m watching the Pokemon videos, wondering if some lucky bastard is going to pull the Hoopa full art that I want for my collection. I want us to spend some time together and every now and then he does actually put the tablet down and start chatting away, at which point I realise just how lousy I feel and kind of wish he’d go back to his game so I could half-doze. Obviously, I feel guilty no matter what i’m doing, because parenting.

Child Unit 1 is upstairs on her very first smartphone. She’s 9 years old, 10 in January and she’s lying on her bed, video chatting to a school friend on Whatsapp. In the frazzled, plague-ridden, distressed parenting centre of my brain, this innocent video chat will almost certainly lead to a career of lewd webcam gyration*.

Normally, when people say “Oh they grow up so fast” my first thought is usually “One day at a time, because that’s how time works, dickhead”, but it’s true. Time seems to be passing faster than it did in the old days and my babies aren’t babies anymore. It’s wonderful and terrifying in equal measure and most days I just hope I don’t fuck it up SO badly that they resent me for it.

My wife, wondrous creature that she his, has just finished a 12 hour shift. She’s a nurse, she does an important, incredible job that I simply could not do. She might make it past midnight or she might have to head upstairs to get some sleep before long because she has another 12 hour shift to do tomorrow. Whatever. It would be lovely to have her here around at midnight, but i’d sooner she got some rest if that’s what she needs. It’s just a tick on the clock and as I plan to spend all the rest of the ticks I have with this woman, I can hardly complain if she spends a few of those ticks asleep from time to time, can I?

So that’s my New Year’s Eve, 2016. The Child Units are doing their own thing, for the most part. Marital Unit muttered something about incense and fired up Pokemon Go, having handed me a slab of Panettone that would choke a walrus. My head hurts, my joints throb and my throat feels like it’s been vigorously assaulted with a spiky rogering stick.

When I was younger, i’d be just about hitting my stride about now. Four pubs down, eight to go and a kebab stop at ten to keep me going.
This year, I decided against having a midnight dram because it might not sit well with my meds.

I wouldn’t change a bloody thing.

Happy New Year, folks.

* I fully support anyone who chooses a career in webcam gyration. I’ve got a couple of friends who make a bloody good living wobbling their bits online and I wish them well. It’s just…she’s nine, guys. I panic easily.

Merry F@#&ing Christmas!

It’s the 1st of December, folks and you know what that means. The countdown has officially begun!

Having said that, my countdown started a wee while ago. We put the tree up last weekend, we went to an incredible, local Christmas market, we’ve worked our way through the first few DVDs on the Christmas movie shelf (oh yes, I have a whole shelf) and we’ve eaten that many mince pies that my last shite was shortcrust.

Of course, I understand that some of you aren’t quite as nutty about  Noël as I am. You’re tired of the over-commercialisation, you’re exhausted by the stresses and strains of preparing for the big, family celebration or you’re just allergic to dates. That’s fair enough. You know what’s NOT fair enough? Telling me not to enjoy Christmas because you’re a miserable bastard.

Actually, no. It’s fine. Moan and piss and whine and whinge all you like. If that’s part of your holiday tradition, then fill your boots, i’ll stick to warming my chestnuts in front of the Birchwood Log Fire on Netflix.

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All I ask is that when I tell you that I love Christmas, that i’ve been looking forward to it all year and that given the current tattered mess that is my mind, I am really in need of some holly, jolly times, you have the decency to grudgingly mutter “each to their own” and go about your business of shitting all over someone else’s good times. Whatever, I guess.

I think what makes me sad is that sometimes it seems that people don’t enjoy Christmas because they’re doing it wrong, to be honest. Take this over-commercialised business, for example. We live in a consumer driven society and Christmas has, admittedly, become a big part of that. Doesn’t make it a bad thing though, does it? We all like stuff and at Christmas we can give and get stuff. Stuff is fun.

Doesn’t have to be that way, though. I was up until 5am for the past two nights hand drawing and colouring and cutting out 24 little Christmas parcels and 24 baubles. I wrote a bunch of fun activities on the parcels and little love notes and treats on the baubles, then I blu-taced them up on the wall for Marital Unit and the Child Units to discover this morning. Quick, easy advent calendar that would have Kirsty Allsop shitting herself with envy and it cost the price of four or five sheets of card.

We watch old Christmas movies, cuddle up on the couch and drink hot chocolate. We draw christmas pictures together and put them up as a window display in the lounge. We drive through town to see all of the Christmas lights, not just the display put on by the town itself but the lights in the houses. It’s old fashioned fun and it’s like a soothing balm for the soul, assuming you believe that you’ve got one. I sold mine for a beer about 14 years ago, but if I hadn’t of done that, it would be soothed.

We do hit the shops, though. Marital Unit and I spent an entire day being pushed and shoved around a shopping centre a few weeks back, to hunt down gifts and grab little treats and oddities which make Christmas a bit more special. We’re not rolling in cash, but if we can spoil the kids a little, we will. We also work hard to make our children understand time spent with family is the best thing about Christmas and that whatever gift you get is wonderful, whether it’s an expensive gadget or a box of sweeties.

They believe it, too. Last year the kids got tablets from Santa. They were thrilled, of course. They were just as thrilled with getting a pair of fluffy, Rudolph socks each.

As for stress, yeah. Yup, can’t argue that. There’s tons to do, between shopping (again, if you do any) and cooking and cleaning and oh wait bugger me it’s not that different to any other day. Seriously, stress is always there, gnawing at you. That’s my life, anyway. It’s amazing though, that come Christmas morning when the Child Units see the crumbs left behind by Santa (sloppy eater, might leave out a bib this year) and we tuck into our traditional breakfast (croissants. What? I’m allowed SOME luxuries in life) and then yes, we open pressies…it’s worth it.  We laugh together, play with their toys, listen to Christmas songs while we get ready to go visit family and if their’s snow then you can bet your frozen ass that we’ll be building a snowman and we’ll take a nauseatingly adorable Christmas photo where we’re posing with him like he’s a real person.

Ah whatever, folks. I’m not arsed how you do or don’t do Christmas. I just hate to see people being miserable when it seems like they might enjoy themselves if they removed the industrial size stick from their puckered anus. Not my lookout, though. As Scrooge said, “keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep it in mine” and we’ll all get along like a snow-covered, country cottage on fire.

Merry fucking Christmas.