I owe Mick Grey a big favour. It was, in my opinion, his finest hour, but not mine.
We’d been invited to Sue and John’s flat warming party. Sherry was on offer at the supermarket so we bought two large bottles. There were two or three hours to kill before the party kicked off, so we decided on a brisk pub crawl. It was my idea to sell the story that we were visiting our brother at university - that he’d gone off to some posh dinner leaving us…and we knew no one in Swansea. Drink flowed, life stories exchanged. Swansea was and is a warm and generous place.
We arrived at the party late but merry as hell.
Time for the sherry.
There are only two things I remember:
Bouncing off walls that, in a peculiarly Welsh way, defied known physics. (Maybe Cerne will figure it out) The walls sucked you in like rubbery cardboard and then at a whim bounced you across the far end of the room. People made way for me as I headed for the bathroom.
That’s the second thing I remember.
I climbed the stairs using the banisters like a rope ladder. Unfortunately I walked up one flight too many and landed in the bathroom belonging to the apartment above. I was peeing into a suspiciously high toilet – physics playing tricks again – when a woman screamed behind me and piss flew up the wall.
“He’s pissing in my sink!”
I turned, confused. This wasn’t Sue, definitely not John. “It’s all right. I’m sorry. I’ll clean it up. I grabbed at a cloth and began scrubbing.
“My face cloth!! A low, despairing wail.
At that moment Mick appeared, breathing heavily. He stood, legs apart and put the woman right:
“Listen, I have known Mike Keyton for three years…And if he wants to piss in your sink – it’s all right by me!”
Thank you, Mick, wherever you are.
The only other time I reached anything approaching that level of inebriation was after my final exams. I wish I could remember the name of that wine bar, which served only port, and made you sit on high stools that became more unstable as the evening progressed.
I do remember head-butting parked cars all the way home. (Had I been really drunk I’d have been head-butting the moving kind.) We were accompanied by two pleasant policeman, enjoying the spectacle, and probably concerned for our safety. Or maybe I imagined them.
There’s one thing about my drunkenness, I’m always benign – puzzled more than anything else and I lose any sense of direction – like a wobbly Sat-Nav. On arriving at our flat I staggered into the wrong room and collapsed on the bed. It was hard as hell and things fell on the floor. Again the shocked scream… and then laughter. It wasn’t the woman bemoaning her face-cloth then.
When I looked round I saw Mick Grey and the land-lady’s daughter staring down at me. I was in her room, lying on her dressing table, which by an act of divine mischief was positioned where my bed should have been.
I recount these stories now, with neither pride or shame. I’m describing a different person…I think.