Valentines day 2016.
I woke up, still in the clothes from the night before, minus the fact that somehow through the mysteries of said night I had changed shirts and worn a fluorescent yellow tee shirt that had not been worn by me in over three years. Shoes still neatly tied, belt firmly attached to my waist.
The world was spinning, my throat dry, I was cradling a saucepan that was holding my vomit inside. “Fucking hell”. I thought to myself.
Meanwhile, that same morning, thousands of women woke up to breakfast in bed, flowers, and all sorts of the gestures of love and appreciation.
Two hours of searching for my keys that I again, had drunkenly lost resulted in me abandoning the diet for the day and going to Mcdonalds.
On the way back, carrying my chocolate milkshake and Big Mac meal, I approach a simple pigeon, a lonesome wayward soul like myself. I continue walking, yet the cocky piece of shit doesn’t fly away. Hangover pounding, and remorse building in my stomach as the sambuca reminds me of my mistakes lead me into a battle of wills with the feathered fool. I am not moving two inches to my left for a pigeon, no way.
I get closer, and s/he still doesn’t fly off, this pigeon’s either hungover too, or just essentially had enough shit for the day and subsequently saw me as the perfect bloke to stand up to.
Long story short, I tripped over the fucking thing.
This may sound like a bad start to the morning, but let me tell you there have been worst ‘morning afters’ from drinks inspired by Valentines day.
February 15th 2008.
Not sure what time. A.M
I woke up, in my bed, world spinning, the sound of bins being dragged across the cobbled streets is like a nuclear bomb in my ears. My friend Ollie is in the same bed, I’m once again wearing a different tee shirt than the night previous. Only difference being, this one’s white and covered in my own blood.
We’ll get to that moment, let’s talk about the night before however.
Valentines Evening 2008.
Nathan comes round to my house, it’s a nervy evening, I’m shooting back Irn-Bru WKD’s like it’s my job as we await Luke to arrive. Ollie has already met Dan and Webster and it was just a case of the six of us meeting up.
For myself and Ollie, this was business as usual we had spent the summer of 2007 illegally drinking and somehow actually managing to do it down town, the rest of our group however, this was…If memory serves correctly their first venture down town, and even so it was without a doubt our first outing down town as a group.
The first step: All of us, six weird looking seventeen year old guys getting past the doormen. I’m pretty sure we strategically planned the order in which we went in, oldest looking at the front, youngest looking in the middle, and another oldest at the back as if the older looking of us were smugglers or something. Nonetheless we all got in.
Seventeen year old me was not the heaviest of drinkers, even to this day when people drink their Carling’s and Fosters and other variants of alcoholically enthused sweat, I still always go for the fruit ciders. However even that back then was considered too grim for me, but I couldn’t in good faith order a WKD in a bar and try to be convincing as an adult human being.
I instead opted for the most lethal fucking cocktail English Sterling could afford.
Another fun fact about seventeen year old me! It didn’t take a lot for me to get drunk, and certainly not much more to get fully wasted. Realistically the WKD’s would’ve done the trick, but instead I was glugging down a mixture of Vodka, Gin, Schnapps, Cider, and whatever else they thought would fit into a pint glass.
It didn’t take long for me, and the group to get social.
It started innocently enough, just our group merrily singing to the likes of R. Kelly, and the bloke who sings about doing shit throughout the week, I honestly can’t remember who it is.
The rest of the downstairs bar joined in, believing we were the ringleaders of this impromptu karaoke session, we continued to bellow our obnoxious voices throughout the evening.
I’m not sure what time it was we got there, but disaster struck. I had ran out of money. The night seemed incredibly bleak from this point on, as my drunk self couldn’t quite handle the prospect of not getting another cocktail within the next fifteen minutes.
Desperately, I get to the bars cash machine and check my balance.
February 15th 2008
I had just been paid. £800 Had just been safely deposited into my bank. The night was in full swing again. I order two more of the vicious cocktails. The rest of my group have also been hit hard by them as they go their separate ways. Ollie tries to desperately pull, Luke and Webster go to the establishment next door, Nathan had left hours ago, and me and Dan (Naylor) figured we’d introduce ourselves to the other patrons.
Literally, one by one. We approached each group at each table and shook everyone’s hands introducing ourselves. Looking back, that was probably the most obnoxiously confident we ever have, and will be, simply on account that it’s not been done since.
A good portion of the hour or so we meet some people and discuss the events of British TV Series Skins, as I declare my interest in a girl that later in life went on to be my girlfriend for seven years. More on that in later blogs.
“Oh fucking ‘ell Dan’s POURING ‘IS ‘ART OUT!” Naylor screams as I’m pretty sure the hopeless romantic in me tries to literally pick up dating tips from the bar staff.
The love lesson however was soon interrupted by a returning Ollie with his signature ‘Shit’s going down’ grin.
“What’s up?” I inquire. “Oh Luke and Luke are getting started on!” He laughed nervously.
Me and Naylor go into helpful friend mode and rush to our friends aid, not before rallying half the fucking bar to come with us in our fight against injustice however. Next thing I know, there’s a good eight of us marching towards Cuba, by most definitions the skankiest bar in the entirety of Plymouth.
Thankfully, there was no riot as Luke & Luke had appeared to settle the fight themselves and harmony returned. Me and Naylor then discovered that we hadn’t introduced ourselves to the upstairs bar yet.
This eventually led to me and Naylor sat in the corner with two women, possibly at this point in time in their late twenties. One looked like the only payment she had ever received in her life was heroin, the other was donning quite the melted face. Nonetheless me and Naylor were nothing short of lovely and for some really fucking weird reason told her that we were part of a duet named ‘HappySad’
“Wart dahs ‘Appeh-Sahd sing den??!” the melted faced lady inquired rather viciously.
“Oh all sorts, mostly acoustic….Because you know, there’s just uhhh, two of us…in a duet” I smiled trying to make my blatant lie as believable as sin.
“Go onnnnnn, sing us a song then!” heroin girl made the request that both me and Naylor knew was coming. Fuck.
The two women sat closer, me and Naylor looked at each other, years upon years of singing Sum 41 had led us to this very moment, it was go time, to somehow create a fake duet within twenty five seconds notice.
“Dan….HIT IT” I shout out.
Naylor starts to strum his imaginary guitar as he literally loudly hums the opening chords of Sum 41’s ‘Without me’.
“Du du du DUH DUH, du du du DU DUH DUH, Du du du DUH DUH, du du DUH, DUH DUH DUH DUH”
I look pensive as I try my best to seem convincing enough of a tortured soul to write the lyrics I soon start to (badly) sing.
“I don’t want this mo-mennnnnnnnt
To ever ennnnnd!
Where everything’s nothing.
To save you reading, and subsequently me typing out the entire lyrics, we got to about halfway through the song before they requested we stop.
I’m not sure if it was well received because whilst they requested us to stop, they still had no problem in informing us that they’d ‘eat us for breakfast’ which to this day, I’m not sure what they meant by.
For some reason the one with the melted face then started licking Naylors hand but I thought it a grand idea to not ask about that.
More alcohol and random meetings went on til about 4am. The night is a blur on account that it was nine years ago (Holy fuck).
Me and Naylor left the establishment.
Luke (Webster) had disappeared.
Luke (Rapley) had gotten himself mugged by a taxi driver.
Ollie was around somewhere.
Me and Naylor were arm in arm skipping up the road singing (seeing as we’re a famous duet now) Ring of fire.
“DO DO DO DU-DO DO DOOOOOOOOOOO
DO DO DO DU-DO DO DOOOOOOOOOOO”
During our amazing singalong however, we couldn’t quite help but notice the ground was making it’s way to us, incredibly quickly.
Then it instead dawned that we were just falling over. We hit the curb with a solid thud, and burst into laughter at the stupidity of the situation. We get back up, Naylor stays up, I fall back down. I do not get up.
6am or something.
I woke up, dazed, confused, and cold. The usual hangover surroundings of my room is replaced with an unfamiliar sight.
Instead of waking up on my cosy bed, I woke up on a random sofa. “Uhhh?” I drunkenly grunt in my confusion. The only thing in this room is the sofa I’m lying on and a table. There’s no other furnishings of note, not even wallpaper.
I clamber off the sofa, and explore the house I find myself in. I enter what I assume to be the kitchen, again no furnishings nor white goods, just a table, one chair and on the wall written in faded red paint….
“BUSH WILL KILL US FOR OIL”
Well fuck, I’m certainly out of my element here.
Heaps of questions start to circle around anxiously in my head.
“Where am I?”
“How did I get here?”
“Where the fuck is everyone?”
“Is this how the great ballad of Dan Reed ends?”
I figure there’s no point freaking out just yet and I explore the rest of the house. I hear voices upstairs. I slowly and nervously take each step as I confront my fate, I open the door.
A group of people, in a perfectly furnished room are playing ‘Sing-Star’. One of the girls turn around
“Ahhhhhhhh Dans up wooooooo!”
Okay, so they know me, maybe I drunkenly introduced myself mid-black out?
I ask where the fudge everyone is, and I’m led to the door. Miraculously, Naylor and Ollie are outside with a random worker from Subway. I’m perplexed but relieved nonetheless.
Apparently the totally unfurnished room wasn’t cool enough to smoke in, so they had resided outside during my unconscious time. I take the fresh air and sunrise as a good enough hint that it’s time to puke. Whilst doing so, my would be rescuers returned to the house with more fucking alcohol.
In for a penny, in for a pound I guess.
We go into another front room, that thankfully actually has more than one grotty sofa in it. One of the people we’re drinking with takes out a fucking tattoo needle.
He starts to tattoo some random girl, who in turn returns the favour and tattoos him.
Subway guy turns to me, the seventeen year old who had just spent the best part of an hour passed out and puking from copious alcohol consumption.
“Hey Dan, tattoo me!”
In for a penny, in for a pound I guess.
Tattoo guy hands me the tattoo needle, I press something and it vibrates, on account that I was giving someone a ‘piece of art’ that would last for a lifetime I really do struggle to remember what happened.
He asked me to draw/tattoo a skateboard on his calf, because… And I quote “He likes skating”. I’m a shit artist on the best of days, so imagine his disdain when a skateboard, a pretty easy thing to draw even for a blind seven year old, ends up looking like this….
The guy masked his disapointment in his immediate shit tattoo quite well I like to think. Feeling the buzz in the situation I think I tattoo Ollie (Though I honestly can’t remember) however, Ollie turns to me.
I can see what’s coming…. “Lemme tattoo you!”
In for a penny, in for a pound I guess.
And instead of saying “No” like a responsible human being, I instead say. “Hey Ollie, let’s do THREE Tattoos!”
And three tattoos he inks onto my skin permanently.
One tattoo being the nickname ‘Danzo’ on my left shoulder.
The second being the ‘Heartagram’ symbol from the band ‘HIM’ (I know)
And the third, and I have this to this very day. A fucking smiley face on my chest.
No word of a lie, I not only accepted these tattoos with a smile on my face (and now chest), but I was actually elated with them at the time. I could have been a walking advertisement on why underage drinking was a terrible idea.
The night/morning soon dwindled down, Naylor had gone home whilst me and Ollie took a slow sombre walk back to my house. It must have been eight in the morning at least, because school kids were at the bus stop. I literally gave some a pep talk on why they should never drink, despite the fact that just a year prior I too was a school kid.
I went home, put on a clean, soon to be blood soaked shirt and called it a night. Not really knowing just what the fuck happened to the rest of the crew that night, one of the Lukes woke up in the middle of a village apparently, whilst the other stole a door mat.
Whilst it was a rough feeling the morning after it was one of those landmark nights that shaped how the rest of our years, and drinking patterns would go. So all in all, it was probably the perfect valentines