The older i've gotten, the more hangovers leave me in utter despair. I second-guess everything i did while drunk, i vow never to drink again, i hate myself for being so weak, et cetera, et cetera. But age has also brought the wisdom of how to nourish my battered brain.
I always have something light and easy to prepare for breakfast. And coffee. I make sure my bedsheets are clean, so hiding in a bundle all day feels cozy and not grimy. Large bottles of water on the bedside table. Extra toilet rolls for any sad moments in the bathroom. There needs to be sufficient food to make a big feed in the evening, something that goes down easy and is full of nutrition and flavor.
But the most important thing is the entertainment. It needs to be fluffy and cheerful enough to counterbalance the internal sense of doom, but also not too complicated to follow. It can't be in another language or have subtitles. Occasionally a computer game is good, especially something fairly passive like a hidden object game, but television is better.
I found a show before Christmas called Almost Paradise, and after watching the first episode i knew i needed to save the rest for a future hangover.
Almost Paradise is a Man Show. Like, not one of those modern Cinemax Man Shows, with lots of titillating sex scenes smash cut with gruesome violence. It's more like one of those Man Shows that existed from back in the day when all characters were stereotypes and that wasn't something to get worked up about.
It features a grumpy old DEA agent who retires on a resort island in Cebu (Philippines), only to find himself caught up solving more crimes for the local PD. The whole show feels like some divorced expat's fantasy. He is perpetually late on his rent, and has a fussy landlord who is always on his case. His doctor is constantly admonishing him for not taking care of his health. But secretly both these (female) foils love him. He works with an improbably sexy police detective and her wise old partner who happens to also be a martial arts expert. The police chief will do anything to get on TV and always takes the credit for the cases our hero solves. But our hero doesn't care because he just wants to be left alone! The goodies are all good. The baddies are all bad. Everyone has a gun, all the time, but nobody ever gets shot, because punch-ups make for more fun television. There is no subverting of tropes or any attempt to take some kind of bold political stance. It's just dumb entertainment.
I really miss dumb entertainment.
Anyway, it proved to be a good salve, as i spent Boxing Day marathoning the whole season. And then i discovered that the producer and lead actor had previously collaborated on a show called Leverage.
You guys. Leverage is the best show i never watched! There's five seasons of it! It's the same sort of thing, unabashedly silly entertainment that has pretty much nothing to say about society. Every episode is a heist. The baddies are all organized criminals, corrupt politicians, super-rich businessmen and so on. There are no shades of grey. The heroes play Robin Hood and use their thieving skills to con the baddies, then give the money to the poor, the working class, the always-exploited and never-problematic average joe. Once again, everyone has guns but nobody ever gets shot. Literally everything in the whole universe can be hacked in about two seconds. It's proposterous, but it's fun.
I wish life was a bit more fun. God knows i probably spend too much of my life fretting over politics and social issues that i have little to no control over.
Anyway, i'm glad i found this small source of fun to distract me.
For some reason the holidays are a hard time for me, even though i don't celebrate them. I'm not even working, which truly makes these days the same as any other. But there is some cultural spirit or generational sense of tradition that still imbues these days with some kind of psychological power over me. Like a lot of people in the west, i tend to be more fragile around this time. I binge drink or get high to try move it all along, fast forward to a time of year with less social pressure to perform, when we don't all need to have some kind of "story" to tell.
I don't have a Christmas story.
But i do want to talk about Ribena, earnestly misspelled as Rubina in my last (blind drunk) entry.
I associate Ribena with childhood. I don't think i ever drank it out of choice - our family certainly didn't have it in the fridge - but it was one of those foods or drinks associated with primary school, or after school care. I think because it's a concentrate, perhaps it's seen as a cheap way to give kids a sugar fix. But also it's marketed as being full of vitamin C and therefore healthy, which is almost certainly nonsense.
Anyway, Ribena tastes awful, it tastes like semolina, it tastes like custard, it tastes like blancmange, it tastes like boiled beef and mashed potatoes and peas, it tastes like every fucking dismal school lunch that ever existed in the 1980s rolled up and squirted into a bottle with a pleasingly curved shape.
But. As someone who rarely drinks anything aside from water, coffee and alcohol... it tasted pretty good on that hangover. Mix it in my water bottle, it's a bit sweet, a bit colorful, it's easier to stomach early in the day than a meal, perhaps.
And then it tasted of the other corners of childhood, it tasted like blowing dandelion seeds, it tasted like picking the petals off a daisy, it tasted like running along the cliffs of Dover with my arms spread wide, it tasted like making airplane noises and pretending i was in The A-Team, it tasted like the morning frost outside and a hot cup of tea.
Well, almost, but not quite, totally unlike tea.