I probably had my first alcoholic drink at one of my eldest sister’s parties. After she got married she would often throw these parties, inviting her friends, the family, members of her drama group and whatever. They used to have games like “Spot the Intro”, “Guess the Vegetable” and “Give the Dog an Erection”. The dog was Lucky, a yellow Labrador who spent most of his life trying to hump my little brother. On his hind legs he was bigger than my brother too, and rabidly amorous. How we laughed as he buggered Jimmy up and down the garden on a summer’s day. I think that was probably just one more thing – aside from the various head injuries – that contributed to my brother’s recurring nightmares and psychotic nature.
There was always a lot of booze at my sister’s soirees, and my older siblings and their friends would ply me with alcohol: let’s face it, there’s nothing quite as entertaining as a pissed eight year old. I never had a drink without getting drunk. I just kept pouring it down me, whatever it was; vile tasting bitter or foul old scotch. I liked gin. Then I’d race off to the toilet to throw up, and after twenty minutes I’d be drinking again. At the end of the night I’d throw up again, and spin out.
So I looked forward to family gatherings with much enthusiasm. Weddings, funerals, court appearances, duels: you name it. I’d invariably do something embarrassing like moon at the carpet or urinate on someone’s mother, but hey: it’s my culture.
I soon started to drink with my friends. One day after school my friend Desmond Radley called for me, his pendulous breasts clinking madly.
“Have you considered Weightwatchers, Des?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied, “I’ve been going through my dad’s cupboards. And look what I found.” He prised open his jacket to reveal three bottles of wine. “There’s a lot more where this came from. The Old Boy, he’s got loads of it.”
So off out into the village we went, stopping only to retrieve my fags from behind a loose brick in the wall; down to the paddock by Wally’s stables, where we proceeded to get good and drunk. After a while Desmond fell to his knees in the grass and started to vomit, and when he’d finished he looked up with an expression of rapt wonder and exclaimed: “Hey, look at that horse’s penis!”
I had to agree, it certainly was a huge, comical penis. More comical still was the way the horny beast thrust it through the sharp forks of an old tree stump, whinnying with delight.
“The horse is having a wank!” I declared. “It’s wanking itself with the tree stump!”
“What a huge knob.”
Well, we never saw that horse – or any other - horse masturbating again, but we repeated our drunken escapades on a nightly basis. Every afternoon, without fail, Des would turn up at my front door, his coat stuffed with various alcoholic beverages, and we would guzzle them by the stables. Other kids would come and join us, and sometimes my mum was good for £1.20 to get some ciggies from the machine in the social club, or a packet of Number 6 off of Mr. Rossi, the ice-cream man.
It wasn’t long before it all came on top. One afternoon Des failed to show up, and in the evening I got a phone call.
“My dad,” he said, “has found out. He went in his cupboard and there were only about three bottles of wine left. He’s not happy.”
“Yes, indeed. Far from happy actually. It turns out that this wasn’t just any old wine. He’s been collecting it.”
“For thirty years.”
“And it was worth a lot of money.”
“Some of those bottles were over fifty years old.”
“Anyway, he wants to see us. Tomorrow night. To work out how we’re going to pay him back.”
Well, in the end, Mr Radley let us off lightly. We had to wash his car for nothing every Saturday for a year, but that was ok. He was old and decrepit and would probably forget about it in a fortnight; maybe even die. I hoped so.