Last weekend I vowed to myself that I wasn't going to touch a drop of alcohol. You know, the type of vow you make to yourself after the previous weekend had left you feeling not just like you had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, but as if in round 2 the cast of 300 had decided to join Mike in the ring and aid him in giving you a beating.
See the previous week had seen me drink booze for 4 nights on the spin for the first time in at least 3 years. The previous time was when I was on a 10 day stag do in Barcelona (as you do), whilst the time before that was when I was backpacking around the world a few years earlier. Now during these two times the hangovers were not a major issue on the whole, as neither of these trips involved me having to do any kind of job, so the only thing I had to worry about when I woke in the morning was that I was actually still alive and that I wasn't sleeping in a dustbin or a local park.
Now don't get me wrong, there were still numerous hangovers that left me feeling like death was coming for me, but waking up knowing you don't have to drag your arse into work made you feel a bit more prepared for when he turned up. Almost as though the fact you don't have to get up and do a job meant that when death arrived you could have a rational conversation with him rather than just throwing up into your lap and waiting to be carried off into the next life. I'd imagine the conversation would go something like this;
Me: Hi Death, how you going?
Death: Not bad, busy as ever, winters here and it's flu season. The elderly are causing me all sorts of trouble.
Me: Oh dear, well no rest for the wick...actually let me rephrase that...err what's up?
Death: Well you've had a skin full last night and I heard on Twitter your head is in so much pain you may die any moment?
Me: Oh shit, forgot I put that. Thanks for the follow by the way. Yeah I'm not going to lie, the pains there and my brain does feel like it is currently trying to crawl out of my ear, but I'm not working today, so rather than die I think I am just going to sleep it off and go out tonight and do it all again if that's alright with you?
Death: Yeah no worries, I'm crazy busy anyway, just heard fuel bills have increased again so things are about to get manic. Cool, have fun tonight and i'll see you tomorrow morning. Tweet me if you think I'm not needed, user names @death24-7-365.
Me: Cool, I'll be in touch. I'll apologise now in case I write something inappropriate, Jaeggerbombs do something funny to me. Happy hunting D man, see you in the morrow.
Death: Don't say 'in the morrow' again Dan, it makes you sound like a w*nker, which in turn makes me want to take you to the afterlife. I like 'D Man' though, cheers.
Me: Sorry it won't happen again D Man and happy hunting....
The one moment however when a hangover wasn't manageable and I'd have been more than happy for Death to take me, even though I didn't have a job to go to, was after taking a herbal 'high' in Queenstown in New Zealand when I was travelling.
Now before anyone starts thinking I am a drug addict, rest assured I have never done an illegal substance in my life, but these were legal tablets that you could buy in any off licence throughout Queenstown, so in my naive mind I assumed they were totally safe and as I was travelling the world to 'find myself' (or some nonsense like that) I duly obliged.
I believe the particular 'highs' that me and my mate Steve bought on the night in question were called 'Mad Dogs'. Now the clue was most definitely in the title because as soon as I took one I was running around the town wild eyed with my tongue hanging out and seemingly trying to lick off one of my own eyebrows, whilst I occasionally ended up on all fours and definitley at one point wee'd up a lampost.
There was also an unrelenting smile that coudn't be removed from my face, as for some reason everything became the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. In fact I'm pretty sure that even a death in the family probably wouldn't have removed it, I'd of just laughed it off and carried on. I can't promise the same would have happened if a Lenny Henry DVD had been put on of course.
So I guess you could say so far, so good. However as the band Blood Sweat and Tears once said (or was it Isaac Newton?) "what goes up must come down". Anyway whoever said it, they were 100% right as the next morning I was so low that I felt like not only one family member had died, but that all of them had...and they'd left my inheritance to a stray cat.
So at about 9am I was awoken by a banging on the door of our hostel room;
"Dan, Steve, come on, the bus for the Bungee jump leaves in a minute" shouted one of our fellow backpackers who clearly hadn't taken a herbal high, because if he had then like myself and Steve (who was currently trying to peel himself off the ceiling) he would not have even considered being awake at this time.
He also clearly didn't know that myself or Steve had taken one, because again if he had known then he would have realised that any loud noises, lights being turned on or even beds being shaken could have lead to one or both of us leaping out of the window and committing suicide, as I can safely say it was the most depressed I had ever felt in my entire life.
It wasn't just mentally I was suffering either, as physically I was having serious issues too. In fact at this point my teeth were feeling like they were trying to release themselves from the gums that had kept them captive for the last 26 years, whilst my eyes clearly had seen what my teeth were up to and were determined to go with them.
Now I am not sure if anyone reading this has ever taken one of these, or ectasy or something like that, but I'd love to know if this is what happens every time, because if it does, then wow, some people are in a LOT of trouble. I'd imagine it's what you'd feel like after a night out with someone like Charlie Sheen. You know, at the time you'd probably think you were having the time of your life, but then when you wake up in the morning involuntarily twitching and sweating like Conrad Murray at a Jackson's family gathering, you'd work out very quickly that you never want to do it again.
Anyway up me and Steve jumped, well I say jumped, it was actually more of a roll out on to the floor sobbing and then an embarrassing attempt to pull ourselves up using the frames of the bunk beds like we were trying to rehabilitate ourselves after a car accident. Eventually however we made it to the van, where on board there were 20 or so people, all of whom had no interest in keeping quiet to aid the survival of the two potential suicide cases sitting down at the front of the vehicle and violenting shaking like Andre 3000 with a Polaroid picture.
After an hour or so however we arrived at the 'Nevis' bungee, which at this point in time was the highest jump in New Zealand and I believe the 3rd highest in the world. It was in a canyon where a cable car was suspended in the centre and the 'thrill seeker' would have to leap from it and down 134m before being sprung back up and down several times until returning to the relative safety of the platform.
Now when the previous evening you had taken 1 and half 'Mad Dogs' and are now coming down quicker than a contestant on 'The Price is Right' seeing this car dangling in the middle of two cliffs is not something you want to be witnessing.
Firstly because you feel at such a low point in your life that putting you on the edge of anything (even a seat) that gives you the opportunity to think about throwing yourself off is not a good idea, and secondly, your eyes and teeth are already trying to escape from your body, so what's going to happen when G - Force gives them a helping hand? By the time you come back up you could end up looking like Lord Voldemort. Which I guess isn't all bad, as at least he probably wasn't as pale as myself and Steve were at this point.
Anyway we lined up for our go. I was first up out of me and Steve, so I ambled over to the chair where they strap you in. Now to be honest at this point I was feeling so sorry for myself that I was tempted to just run past the two fellas holding the rope, shout "Bungee" in a high pitched voice and then leap to my death.
However I resisted and allowed them to strap me in whilst they gave me safety instructions (which went straight over my head) and told me to not look down and just leap outwards with my arms out wide. So that's what I did. "3, 2, 1 BUNGEE" and off I went, deep down praying the rope wasn't attached, but also quickly realising that I needed to keep my mouth firmly closed so my teeth didn't jump from my mouth and go off on their own little adventure.
After an 8 second free fall and my life flashing before my eyes at least 4 times as I went head first towards the shallow river underneath, the rope tightened and I began to bounce back up into the air, with my skinny arms flailing in the wind like I'd momentarily turned into Mr Tickles from the Mr Men books. Eventually I was hooked back into the cart and my near death experience was over (well the bungee bit was, the come down from herbal highs was still in full swing).
Next up was Steve. Now he seemed to have taken the come down even worse than I had, as he looked like not only did he want to commit suicide, but as if he already had and we had just dragged his corpse up to this bungee so he could have one last go as it's "what he would have wanted" before then carting him off to the crematorium.
So Steve went through the same procedures as me, rope being attached to his feet, a health and safety chat and then the instruction to leap as far out from the platform with his arms out wide and not looking down. So up he stepped, "3, 2, 1 bungee" the instructor shouted and with that Steve, who had clearly by now lost all sense of where he was and what he was about to do, dropped down on to one knee and simply rolled over the side! So looking more like he was rolling off a boat to go Scuba Diving than he was doing a Bungee jump down he plummeted.
After about 5 minutes the rope was winched back up to the platform and to my surprise not only was he still attached, he also looked a little bit healthier than when he went down. Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't recommend doctors start prescribing bungee jumping to drug addicts, or people suffering from depression, as he still looked shocking (as did I) but just slightly less shocking than 5 minutes earlier.
So that was that, my one and only attempt and taking any kind of recreational drug other than alcohol and I can safely say I will not be doing it again. In fact I would go as far to say that it's worth giving kids a few 'Mad Dogs' when they are being educated about drugs at School, because yeah you may lose 85% to suicide the morning after, but the 15% who survive will live on with the knowledge that yeah the night you do them may be fun, but the morning after is so unrelentingly depressing that unless you have a bungee jump in your garden you may not live to see lunch time.....
To be continued.......