It was a uniform thing

Story in the Haerald, linked to by Danyl, had me swaying slightly uncertainly down memory lane.

University pub crawl, sometime in late ’80s.  I wasn’t drinking a huge amount but I’d had a couple of beers & we’d reached the best pub on the crawl  – the Shakespeare.

We’re on a table next to the window and three traffic wardens amble past. I muse to the group, “I’ve always wanted one of their hats.”

Its important to remember that at the time traffic wardens wore fairly formal uniforms. Oh, and I had a bit of a thing about women and hats.

“I dare ya,” says one of the group – who is now, by the way, a highly respected university professor of philosophy at  an Ivy League American college.

“Twenty bucks?” I ask, knowing that with his family background he can well afford it.

“You’re on,” he says.

The three wardens are by now waiting at the traffic lights on the corner by the pub, so I dip out and sneak silently – or so I thought – up behind them.

I figured I’d go for the middle one because I didn’t want to make it too easy.

As I got to striking distance she whirls around, grabs her hat in one hand and the other one shoves a finger under my nose.

“You want it?  Its thirty five bucks,” she says.

With as much dignity as I could muster I pulled out my wallet and asked if she’d take a cheque.

“You’ve got to be joking,” she says.

Quick calculation tells me if I fork over the $35 and win the bet I’m still $15 down.

I’m stingy. Besides, by then the ‘cross now’ signal had gone and they headed across Wyndham St. Laughing, the heartless cows.

Still. Nice uniforms they had in those days.

Grog – lessons and tips

The Christmas party season is coming up. Summer Bacchanal and all, season of fruit pies, plum duff, beaches, barbies and sandflies.

And lots and lots of alcohol.

So please take the foregoing as a different version of the usual seasonal warnings from those po-faced finger waggers who get paid to deliver those sorts of warnings.

Although an extremely well behaved type these days, I’m blowed if I’m going to turn all pious about other people letting loose. Just get someone else to drive, and try to keep the noise down if other people are trying to sleep, OK?

I stopped drinking – voluntarily – when I decided to try for law school and I vowed I would not drink again until I got accepted.

My pledge became academic (hah!) part way through that year when I got glandular fever and managed to get hepatitis at the same time. The liver has never been the same since, and these days I confine myself to the odd glass of wine, the odd beer, and, on occasion, a good single malt to round off the week.

Until my mid 20s I liked Jim Beam and beer. In that order. And on occasion I was very silly and paid for it in the usual ways..

So here’s a few lessons learned, generally the hard way.

Drinking and children’s playgrounds

Drunks are often attracted to children’s playgrounds after dark. It seems a real hoot to play on the gear in the middle of the night when you’re completely chooked.


The sequence of events, many moons ago, in Picton:

1. Drink a lot of cheap wine. (mostly Blenheimer, although someone* had the bright idea at one point of mixing vodka with it.
2. Think – woohoo! Trampoline! EXCELLENT!
3. Run out to trampoline, which is quite a way away.
4. Take flying leap onto trampoline, landing double footed in the middle of it.
5. Yell “YEEHAA!!” or something equally profound.
6. Fail to take momentum into account.
7. Notice a slow uneasy feeling in pit of stomach as the rebound hits, going up up up…
8. Notice in particular the nice forgiving trampoline drift slowly back below and – THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT – behind.
9. Look down and realise the Marlborough earth, at the tail end of a long, drought-stricken summer, is a bloody hard thing to land on at speed, drunk or sober.


1. Don’t drink them on an empty stomach.
2. Don’t then think, Ooh, I need some sustenance, and grab the nearest thing available.
3. Especially if the nearest thing is a handful of pineapple lumps.
4. ESPECIALLY don’t do this just before taking part in an impromptu public speaking competition.


I used to get the urge to climb things. This is strange, as I was pretty bad at it, but a lot of people try to do things they are bad at when they are pissed.

On the way from a do at the old Press Club in Auckland, yelling suddenly “Stop the car!!!” the driver (who, some years later, capped off a distinguished career as Editor of the New Zealand Herald)  hits the brakes, everyone thinks I need to chunder.

But no. We’re going past a building site with a large crane and I have decided I can climb the crane. Right Now. I leap out of the car and run towards it. Got up a few rungs before three of the guys from the car hauled me down. (I actually have no memory of doing this, but the friends who pulled me off it do, and they showed me the bruises.)

Lunchtime drinking:

Be very wary of lunchtime drinking if you are going to be drinking in the evening as well.

A rule of thumb – which I found to be accurate – is that, to get an idea on the impact on your system, double every drink you took at lunchtime, and imagine ingesting the lot in one go at 6pm.

That’s roughly what happens if you start drinking again in the evening. I don’t know why.

– for every drink of alcohol, drink a glass of water. Amazingly effective.


Milk thistle. This is a herb which is very good for the liver and which can even moderate the effect of the post-drinking headache. It’s a wonderful discovery. You can get in most chemists and health shops and even the supermarket these days.

Before you go to bed – glass of Berocca. Use it to wash down a couple of milk thistle pills.

For breakfast:

Lambs fry, bacon and fried sput, along with orange or grapefruit juice and coffee.


*Possibly me. Details of the precise chain of causation are, for reasons which should be reasonably obvious, somewhat unclear.