You know when you do that thing? When even as the decision is still forming in your head, you know that it is a bad idea, as surely as you know that you have already committed to it.
My dog Archie has a number of life missions, and top of his ever-growing list is the one to rid the world of cyclists. Archie hates bikes and his response to passing cyclists is such that I have now become hyper aware of them, so that I generally spot them before him and have time to brace. Archie will spot the offending biker and run either away from or towards him or her, based on whichever direction affords him the longest possible arc on the lead to make known his protest.
He will exercise his right to protest, at full volume, while in the park on the other side of a fence along a road on which the cyclist is moving. Actually he once hurled himself, barking furiously at the car back window as I overtook a vehicle pulling a trailer with a bike on it.
I have tried everything to rid him of this obsession. I have fed him as bikes approached to build the association with the one thing he truly loves: snacks, I have scolded him, squirted him on the back with water, picked him up and held him and sat with him in a parked the car by a bike track to try and ‘flood’ his phobia. Nothing worked, except my hearing took a bashing at that last attempt.
The weird thing is that if ever he is thwarted in his attempt to voice his disapproval, and for some reason occasionally he is, he does not seem to forget it, which is surprising as he is hardly being headhunted for MENSA. The fury which he would normally dispense, seems to build up in his tiny hairy body and so the next biker he sees cops a doubly aggressive serve.
That I too apparently have this ability to store frustration appears to be the case. Last weekend, while having trouble with my internet service, I put a bottle of wine in the fridge but ended up thinking better of it. So the wine sat there, untouched until Thursday night. Thursday, a night of the week which is followed by a work day which means an early start. This Thursday, which I knew preceded a Friday that would involve a tricky and protracted teleconference call, for which I had to be in the office by 7.30 am. The last thing I needed to be was tired.
Even as I knew all this, I was reaching for the bottle of wine in the fridge and unscrewing the cap. As the wine hit my stomach with reassuring warmth, I should have been thinking, ‘Whoops forgot I had not eaten.’ Instead what I was thinking was, ‘Bloody hell, that feels good. I might have another glass after this.’
I knew, as I set the alarm for 5.45 am that I should go to bed and call it quits, but once you have committed to a path of folly, why stop? So I had another glass of wine, which hit my detoxed system like nuclear bomb and with similar lasting toxic effect.
I slept quite well, until 3am and then it was all over. I woke up feeling seedy and thirsty and hot, trying to work out exactly why I had decided to hurl myself off the wagon with such determination on the worst day I could have. Naturally, I managed to get back to sleep fifteen minutes before the alarm went off, which meant that when it did rouse me, it felt like I was pulling my mind out of a bowl of treacle.
Movie hangovers are great, aren’t they? There is a bit of groaning, and some Alka seltzer and then perhaps an amusing encounter with a fried breakfast. The good thing about movie hangovers though, is that they occur in special movie time: compressed time.
I did not have a hangover, I just felt very tired and very unmotivated all day. The lights were too bright, all ambient sound was too loud and I ate junk all day. Time went backwards and when it wasn’t going backwards, it was crawling forwards.
Finally it was over and I tried to get an hour’s sleep before heading over to my parents’ to wish my dad a happy birthday but dogs do not get hangovers, because dogs are not idiots who decide to drink wine on a work night. Lucy jumped on the bed beside me and in what I am going to try and believe was an act of compassion, stuck her snout under my head and literally levered it up off the pillow. Clearly, she thought the fresh air was a better idea for me.
She was probably right, as it happens, but a better idea would be never to drink angry wine again.