La Resaca

In Practice on December 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

La Resaca

“You’re a genius.”

My first words of the day. K has just handed me a second can of isotonic-whatever-it-is and informed me she still has a little bottle of water in her bag, and some ibuprofen in the car. The woman is a genius.

My head – or what remains of it – falls back on the pillow. It does strike me as a little odd that she would choose such a moment to tickle my feet, but then I realise she’s putting my socks on. That’s good; I wasn’t going to get around to it anytime soon. While I’m being dressed, the images start flooding in; the first of them provide me with my bearings. I’m in Gibraltar.

No wait, I’m in La Linea, across the border, but I was in Gibraltar. I remember waiting at the runway after dark while a Monarch jet landed, more or less silent in the air as it slipped in from the east, but roaring on the tarmac when it touched down right in front of us and deployed its flaps. A little more waiting while it trundled back into view and towards the terminal…

…K is putting my underpants on. I have neither the energy nor the necessary synaptic functionality to feel ashamed of myself. I am, however, able to feel a lot of pain, somewhere behind my eyes. I wonder what could have caused it. Could it have been the Domaine Patrick Mauvy 2012, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire valley? It was certainly fruity, I’ll give it that, and successfully avoided that ‘furniture polish’ thing that Sauvignon’s so often don’t, but apart from that it seemed innocuous enough…

Then the gate was opened and the barriers lifted and it was all a street again – a rush of vans and scooters as we pedestrians poured out into the open space of the runway. The sheer white face of the Rock above us and a flock of calling seabirds circling around at its base, the petrol station at the side of the runway, the football stadium, the apartments. The three quarter moon that the sloping rock seemed to point at. The palm trees…

…I am very grateful to K for getting my underwear on, so complying with her request to sit up and raise my arms while she pulls a t-shirt down over them seems the least I can do. It can’t, surely, have been the 2012 Shiraz, a treacly rich Australian bursting with black cherry? It seemed so friendly at the time…

…at the far side of the airfield, Gibraltar is a bustling place: claustrophobic even, a feeling that was added to because I was on my way to K’s Christmas work bash. I always feel like the poor poet amongst professionals. A kid amongst the grown-ups.  This will be the first year with her new colleagues so I’m a little more edgy even than usual…

…I refuse to believe that I have been left in this state by a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio mix from Tuscany. Impossible. It did have lovely toasted raisin top notes. Why have I been left to put on my trousers by myself? K is telling me something about the “state of the bathroom”, but I’m concentrating on my buttons…

…when we got there we were among the first of what was to be a small gathering in one of the low vaulted archways of the old city battlements, now given over to wine sales and tastings. The owner was pouring out some manzanilla.

“Do you know what manzanilla is?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” we smirked simultaneously, borderline insulted.

“If you give me a moment,” said K, swilling her glass, “I’ll let you know if this one is any good or not.”

“Ah. This one is a pasada, actually”

“Well, that’s a decent start then,” I piped in, and with some of the new arrivals seeming just as nervous as I was and the others appearing perfectly relaxed and informal, and the good ham and the old cheese, it was a pretty decent start…

…we’re out on the pavement and the sun is staring me down, so I keep my eyes on the concrete. When they’re open. I’m following K. There’s a street and then a roundabout and then we’re at the car. I get in and pop an ibuprofen. It would come as a great surprise to me if a 2009 Pinot Noir from Argentina could do this to a person, but I suppose it’s a possibility…

…it turned out that for one reason or another several of K’s colleagues weren’t drinking. At a wine tasting. With the bottles opened it meant that their contents had to be poured into fewer people. That was me and K and her director C and his partner J and a couple of others. At one point I had three glasses in front of me: two red wines and a manzanilla I hadn’t quite finished. The food was fine but let’s face it – this wasn’t about the food…

…Whole Berry, from the Springfield Estate in Robertson, South Africa, is an old school cabernet that delivers all the dark berry and licorice flavours you’d expect. Perhaps not quite as full bodied as it might be, there is some evidence to suggest, I have the unhappy duty to inform you, that it may be lethal…

…the non-drinkers were also early-leavers and while the night was still relatively young there were just the few of us left, all in a considerably more relaxed frame of mind than we had been at the outset. I believe we were doing accents at one point. Sorry, Northern Ireland.  Looking across the table at one point, the director, C, did not have the look of a man who had any intention of going home…

…on our way back towards Tarifa I’m hanging on to the handle above my window, so I don’t sway too much. I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad and I certainly can’t remember the end of the evening. It’s time to use my words.

“The, eh…at the end there? We took our leave…I mean, I was alright, wasn’t I? I didn’t do anything, did I?”

“No, you were fine. You were telling them about your experimental fiction…”

My hands go to my head.

“Jesus. Oh Christ. Experimental fiction at your works do. Honey, I never meant…”

But K is just laughing.

“It’s ok. I think they might actually have been interested. They’re going to look you up”

She pats my leg cheerfully.

“Nothing bad happened, honey. Apart from the bathroom thing”

Nothing bad happened. Tell my head nothing bad happened. Something bad happened, I can assure you. But what was it? My last memory of the night is of C offering me a drink.

“Go on, have another,” I remember him saying, bit of a mischievous look to him if you ask me. But another what? And how many had I had? In my mind’s eye I track down to the glass in my hand. Jesus.


  1. Nothing worse than self inflicted pain..well ok there are some worse things

  2. Nice little mind jogger…refreshes the memories that were washed away!

    It was the whiskey that did it…after one whiskey tasting where I met a lovely Brazilian Doctora, in the casualty not socially, it was the beer n wine after the whiskey that did it!

    Now where did I leave my bicycle…? Oh! where did the Police leave my bicycle after they picked me up from the street?

    Surely beautiful Brazilian doctors should not make we walk naked first thing in the morning to test my balance ..or punish me for my stupidity!

  3. Priceless! You don’t reveal what state K was in, but clearly not as bad as yours … never mind, you can get over it just in time for the Christmas and New Year parties!

    • She was shockingly well. She claims to have had more or less as much wine as I did, but no whisky, and plenty of water throughout. As I said, the woman’s a genius.

  4. Sounds like a great night:) Hope you’re feeling better!

  5. Ah – The grape and the grain! Never a good combination – even if the temptation of a ‘nippy-sweetie’ is too hard to resist at the end of an evening! I doubt I could have recollected the evening as well as you, though, let alone write so eloquently about it! Sláinte!

    • Thanks Sue! I’ve never really figured it out but I’ve always found a hangover is great for getting something written down, even if it’s only an account of how the hangover came to be…

  6. Hilarious Robin! December is generally a blurry time of year…

    • Cheers Josh – glad you enjoyed. Are you in Granada or England? We were in the former recently and didn’t drop you a line because I had something in my head about you being in England. We’ll be there again soon enough though. Can’t stay away from the place…

  7. I’d have been finished at the sherry …it does things to my knees that no amount of whisky can manage.

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