Monday, October 01, 2007

When the Hangover Strikes - The Chris Difford Retreat Diaries, Part Twelve

September 7th, 2007

10:30 a.m.

I am dreaming and while, as usual, there is an erotic componenent to my subconscious wanderings, this times it's not in a good way. Naked women are dancing around me, rhythmically shoving red-hot skewers into my cerebral cortex with all the grace and sensitivity of a rabid weasel.

I am frightened to open my eyes, lest I discover that I have been kidnapped by a serial killer who is now proceeding to torture me to death.

Oh dear fucking God. Mary, mother of Christ, and all the fucking saints...

Even in my semi-conscious state, I can feel the headache. It feels as though my head has been hollowed out and filled with wasps. Wasps made of acid. With guns. And hammers.

Where am I? (Italy, Kenton.)

Who am I? (You're the Archbishop of Canterbury. Pay attention, you dick. You are Kenton Hall.)

Why, dear God, why? (Cause you're a dick, who thought it would be big and clever to hoover up everything vaguely alcoholic within a 60 yard radius, on the grounds that you think it makes you more interesting. May I say again, dick.)

I stumble from my bed, if only to escape whoever it is that is talking to me with such vitriol and pure hatred. That's funny, I think, I wonder what my mother's doing here.

I fall into the shower, happily remembering to remove most of my clothing, if not all. The shower is comprised of thousands of little pin-pricks of water, each making, in my current state, a sound best represented as the word "CLANG!".

Droplets of vodka are crawling from my pores and waging war with the droplets of water, causing further unnecessary noise.

I fall out of the apartment door, stepping on Vampire Toad once again, but this time without any guilt. Let the fucker suffer. Goddamn undead amphibians.

I fall back into the apartment when I realise that at no point in the previous three paragraphs have I put my clothes back on.

I've already made clear that breakfast is not a meal with which I agree, nor which agrees with me, but I feel it necessary to announce my presence, get any pointing and laughing from my compatriots out of the way, and inject as much pure caffeine into my veins as is allowed by law.

A half-hearted and painful rummage through my luggage has confirmed that I have brought no painkillers with me. On my way to the kitchen, I fall weeping upon the neck of Emma-Elisabeth-Jim and beg.

"Give... me....," I say, with all the syllables I can muster, "... drugs. PLEASE? I will do anything you ask."

She fails to ask for anything interesting, which figures. Women. But, bless her ivory-tinkling heart, she produces a pain-threatening pill which I wash down with a mouthful of beer in a vain attempt to be the first person to prove the hair of the dog theory correct. Not that there is any alcohol in our beer, mind, but there you go.

My co-writer for the day, according to the little of Chris' list that I can read, is Rachel Dawick, a charming New Zealander who - to the admiration and envy of all - appears to have had a reverb unit inserted in her throat at birth. It truly is a glorious voice. I would be very much looking forward to writing with her, if I didn't feel the need to kill every single blade of grass surrounding the house for making such a godawful racket. Little wavy, green fucks.

I pass various groups of other writers all of whom look on me with a mixture of pity and amusement. I look like a bad photograph of myself, my eyes so red I can feel bulls from Spain stampeding in the distance.

Riley does not, the fucker, look as bad as I feel, but I'm trusting him when he maintains that he too is suffering the after-effects. Dorie opts for a sympathetic, "Oh dear..." but there's a smile in it.

Everyone tells me I was very drunk indeed. Uh-oh. Cause I don't remember being drunk until very late on in the evening. I do have a vague recollection of Dorie urging me to dance with her and then giving up with a fit of the giggles after I clearly out-Ian-Curtis'd Ian Curtis.

Look, I'm enthusiastic, if not accurate. (If I had a pound...)

I decide I am not going to think about anything I have said or done, but rather attempt to read in my fellow writers' faces any attempts I have made to bite, seduce or armwrestle any of them.

It seems that everyone is still talking to me, which is good... I haven't seen Mr. Difford yet, which is primary concern, as I fear what arse-clenchingly brown-nosey dribble might have poured from my drunken face in his presence.

I can just see me with an arm perched in unwelcome fashion on his shoulder, saying something along the lines of, "YOuknow... Ilikesqueeze.... Hey, I should be in Squeeze... How come I'm not in Squeeze, Chris? TELL ME!"

Rachel and I retire to the pool to compose, or in my case, decompose. The only writing I feel at all competent to engage in is a last minute will.

I decide a bracing swim might do the trick. The water is cold, the sun is hot and I no longer give an ounce of flying badger sputum what anyone thinks of my body. All I want is for my head to stop doing whatever it is it thinks it's doing.

I dive into the water, feeling my nipples first harden and then retreat through my back as the icy water slaps me around. God only knows how cold I'd feel if I didn't have this slick of vodka protecting me from the elements.

Eventually, I lie down beside the pool, wedge a towel over my face and let Rachel play the guitar. Hungover, lying beside the pool, clearly dying, I feel like a character in a Raymond Chandler novel, and the first line out of my face is the following:

I step from the harsh lights of neon and gilt

Eventually, the incredibly patient Rachel and I construct a vodka-soaked, hungover story to go with the vodka-soaked, hungover lyricist expiring in the Italian sun. Her voice is such that I begin to come to with every line, from the sheer joy of hearing her sing the words she and I are conjuring. I even pick up the guitar to help with the music, however much it hurts.

We conceive a tale of a woman, alone in a seedy bar, telling her story to the usual bartender. Only, as it transpires, all is not as it seems.

I step from the harsh lights of neon and gilt

Into the shadows of Ed's bar and grill

It's solitary patrons, their backs to the wall

If I wasn't one of them, I'd be appalled.

Walked up to the barman and asked for a light

He picked up a bartowel and polished his lines

And played the old number 'bout "places like this"

I said, "You're mistaken. I'm not on that list."

I'm drinking now, but can't seem to forget

The man that I left lying in my bed.

It's a cracking song, and when Rachel sings it, it really comes alive.

I only wish I would.

At lunchtime, Mr. Difford looks at me and says, "Your eyes tell the story."

But I don't appear to have tried to bite or seduce him, so, in the long run, the day is actually going well so far.

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