It’s the strange void before the discomfort which strikes first. An eyes-closed where am I, what time is it? Swallow and your tongue feels like your last meal was a sandcastle. Eyes stinging as the beer goggles linger like left-in contact lenses. A sea-sick stomach, a sudden flashback of something from the night before, an internal groan, the possibility that someone is actually in your brain and trying to break out by punching through your skull.
Sadly it’s something that most of us have had the displeasure of experiencing, not through intentioned design, of course, more a product of a good time, a bit like the sluggish lethargy following Christmas dinner. But how do you approach this unwelcome inevitability? Can you stave it off using preventative measures or do you wake up and then deal with it? (Abstinence doesn’t count)
Pre-university, as a fledgling drinker from the ages 18-20, my cure was simple: a pint of water and a packet of salt and vinegar squares. This would work for all but the fiercest of evenings (when meat and chips was required). During university it was dealt with by volume: a full meal at 3am, often cold leftovers (the most memorable being a five-day-old ‘bread and butter pudding’ made from a reduced-to-10p pack of eight jam doughnuts eaten straight from the fridge as I swayed bleary-eyed) or a mass panic-buy from the 24 hour Budgens. Post-university and the method is in a strange limbo: drink water, eat lots, eat whatever, hope for the best, sleep.
Some say have a glass of milk before you drink. Some champion eating a booze-soaking meal. Some say to order light-coloured drinks over dark. Some call for a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. Most go for the pint of water before bed… These all aim to prevent, but do they actually work?
Then the morning after… Stepping shaky-legged across splayed trousers, pizza boxes and borrowed street signs, what feast can guarantee to pick you up? Is it bacon? A full fry up? Black coffee, paracetamol and a cigarette? A bottle of sports drink. A head-clearing walk? Hair of the dog? Or do you mourn under the covers until indecently late?
Drink responsibly. Deal with the after-effects tactically. Are you a preventer or a curer or do you need a bit of both?