Brief Preamble: Just a list of things I like, to be added to over the days/weeks/months/etc to come…
The morning after the night before. As people crawl from sleeping bags, beds or from their bivouacs of cushions, chairs and piles of clothes, they have one focus above all others – food. Fried food, greasy food, the only thing that can take the pain away.
Food is a problem because the kitchen is a disaster zone, a Ground Zero of filthy plates and glasses, crushed cans and empty bottles. There is no food in the kitchen, there is nothing to eat it off, and besides, the kitchen is now a depressing place. Every possible container has become a receptacle for a foul combination of stale beer, cigarette ash and half chewed food. Someone has probably urinated in the bin. No one can be expected to go near such a place in a fragile state, and washing up is simply out of the question. Food must be found outside of the house, and so everyone who can still walk pulls on the clothes from the previous night and stumbles out into the cold, slouching towards the Bethlehem offered by a greasy spoon or greasy Weatherspoon.
Sometimes I think I go to parties just to go for the fry ups the next day and enjoy the sense of kinship that exists between the Hungover. Suffering brings people together and allows them to share a rare connection, even if said suffering has been caused by half a bottle of Glenmorangie and three glasses of Sainsburys Basics red wine. Booze brings people together as well, of course, but at a party people tend to have different objectives. Flirting, fighting, fucking, whatever takes your fancy. Everyone is there for their own reasons and wants to see different people – there is a shared agenda, but not much of one.
Not so the next day. Just as people are united by their drunkenness, the morning after they are united in suffering, but this suffering (and the cure for the suffering) provides a much more unified purpose than the vague injunction to Have Fun. Aching guts, china plate heads and a mouth that tastes like a bag full of mouldy socks have a strange capacity to bring people together. No one has the time or energy to think about how they look or what they are saying. Everyone is too busy taking comfort in two of life’s great pleasures; good food and good company.
Whenever I find myself at one of those tables, surrounded by friends as we sit reverentially before our plates of fried filth, I find myself grateful for these things – hearty food and people who inspire and bring comfort to me. It shouldn’t require me to soak myself in whisky and then sleep on a hard floor to really appreciate these things, but it helps.
A hangover, fried food, and some good friends to enjoy it with. As a combination, that’s one of the things that I like.