The sound was a horrifying wail that skewered its way deep into my unconscious brain until I awoke sharply – drowning in sweat, my heart smashing through my ribcage, my head about to burst.
Some twat, somewhere, was playing a U2 song over and over again, and all was far from friggin quiet on New Year’s Day, I can tell you.
I squeezed my eyes open and squinted until I saw the familiar sight of a fraying Mott The Hoople poster peeling from fuzzy, red-flock wallpaper. I was lying on a brown tweed sofa and tangled up in a tartan blanket that had seen better days. And nights.
I was home.
The air in the room was warm and soupy and I felt a wave of nausea pass over me. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and counted to ten. The dry heaves kicked in around six. A beat. I peeled my eyes open again. The aquarium bubbled and gurgled, bathing the room in a sickly green light. Sickly and yet soothing. I reminded myself that I really had to put some tropical fish in there, one day.
I edged onto my side and awkwardly kicked the blanket to the floor. I was fully clothed. My armpits were soaking. My fake Armani shirt was soggy. A sickly smell permeated my pores. The least said about my trousers the better.
Beside me was a sticky coffee table that was cluttered with the remnants of the previous night’s drinking. I picked up an open can of Stella Artois and shook it. It was more than half full. A result, then.
I slowly sipped its warm, flat contents until I started to get a glow on, like one of the kids in the old porridge adverts. Booze: central heating for drunks.
Bonzo, The Ledge, and their musically illiterate pals continued to strangle a cat in the flat next door and I knew that I was going to have to make a move soon, before my head went all Scanners. I finished the lager, edged myself up to a sitting position and picked up my glasses from the coffee table. One of the lenses was scratched but they weren’t broken. Another result.
The blinking, digital clock-radio that was plonked on top of the television set said that it was 3.15 but then, these days, it always did. Ever since I’d thrown it against the wall during a particularly grating late night phone-in show. In the real dark night of the soul, there was always some twat talking bollocks at three o’clock in the morning.