You awake, trying to peel open your eyes, dazed, confused, and blinded by the single ray of light shining through the crack in the blinds. With a crushing headache and an even bigger feeling of devastating shame, you scramble for your phone, wallet and house keys, but end up sending half a gin and tonic flying off the bedside table and place your hand in the half-eaten kebab you thought was a great idea at half past five. Welcome to Sunday morning.
You somehow manage to lift yourself up and focus for long enough to see how many drunken texts you sent, wondering how many apologies you have to make this time. “You have been tagged in one million photos” – the Facebook notification is like a dagger to the heart. Oh God, what did I do?
If you have never been in this situation, then you are either lying to yourself or you have not been on a night out with our editor. Those who know me are no strangers to the fact that I love drinking, whether it be a few ales on a Tuesday, cocktails on a Friday, or a recovery brunch that escalates quickly on a Sunday afternoon. I remember in my early days boasting that I never had to endure the dreaded hangover, while a few of my friends only had to smell the faintest whiff of a large Sauvignon to feel the hangover coming over them. As I got older this changed.
So how can we get through the pain? Quell our queasy stomachs and shift those mind-numbing headaches? I thought a little research was needed. Over the last five weeks I have conducted my own experiment into some of the top hangover cures. Once a week I proceeded to, in the name of science and investigative journalism, consume a large quantity of alcohol and then, on the following morning, attempt some of the popular hangover methods. Here at In Good Taste, we know that you are busy people, and a fast recovery to get on with your day is paramount; burning the candle at both ends is not as easy as it looks.
Option One: Lying in State
This hangover cure was one I had actually been looking forward to trying: literally staying in bed all day binging on a variety of unhealthy snacks and getting through a series on Netflix. I awoke feeling terrible – dry mouth, headache, smelling like a bottle of tequila. I proceeded to down a quarter of a large bottle of water that I had prepared earlier. I must add that preparation is key here. Stocking up on food and drink the night before prevents you actually having to leave your bed unless it’s absolutely necessary. Whilst proceeding to the tenth episode of Orange is the New Black I noticed that my headache had subsided and I did not feel as delicate; later into the evening, however, I began to feel the flaws of this method. With intermittent sleep throughout the day I found myself still awake at 3:30 am, not in the slightest bit tired. Having a particularly odd sleeping pattern as it is, having to get up for work the next morning was nigh-on impossible due to how tired I had become. The next day was a complete write-off.
Removed the effects of hangover but left me feeling deflated and exhausted the next day.
Option Two: The Full English
This was arguably the single worst hangover of my entire life; much of the day and night before was a complete blur. A solid seventeen hours’ drinking seems like a great idea at the time, but leaves you scrambling for the tattered remains of your dignity, holding onto the toilet bowl for dear life, and praying for the sweet relief of death. But I picked myself up off the bathroom floor, threw myself downstairs to the kitchen, and cracked out the frying pan. Three Cumberland sausages, three rashers of bacon, hash browns, beans, toast, orange juice and coffee were on the menu – and before anyone questions the missing mushrooms or tomatoes, I’m not their biggest fan, so I left them out. The smell was intoxicating; it lingered in the air, it sounded amazing, sizzling away in the pans, yet in my current state I simply could not appreciate it as just standing up was causing a whole lot of pain.
I served it all up and proceeded consume it. I must admit it took me a long time, but I may as well have licked the plate clean. It was everything you want from a full English. Not long after I had left the table to collapse on the sofa, though, I noticed a sinking and heavy feeling in my stomach. It felt like my insides were trying out for the 2016 Rio Olympics gymnastics team. It was nothing short of a kick to the guts. I scrambled through the medicine cupboard for a Rennie, but my search was unsuccessful. I lay writhing in agony for what seemed like hours. Yet as it began to pass I started to feel like my old self again and I was able to actually get a few odd jobs done.
I am going to consider this the torture method, exacerbating the symptoms yet ultimately, after a lot acid reflux and dry heaving, making the hangover subside. No pleasure without pain. There is washing up, and no-one likes washing up.
Option Three: Hair of the Dog
Held as the shining beacon, the magical cure, the mythical elixir of hangover removers, I had strong hopes for this one. My hangover for this was in all fairness not as harsh as the previous weeks. The evening before was not too heavy, but a mixture of real ales and Sambuca until the early hours of the morning does still set ones stomach off a little. So at midday, it was off to the local pub round the corner. It was like returning to the scene of the crime, seeing that spot where you were stood a mere seven hours earlier, downing pints and chatting on in a manner I can only imagine was irritating beyond belief.
We walked up to the bar, and being greeted with the phrase “and how are you feeling this morning?” was almost enough to make me want to put my tail between my legs and disappear back to the darkness of my house. You know you were drunker than you thought. I ordered a pint of bitter, hoping to nurse it for some time. My compatriots had other ideas. I was presented with a tequila shot, a lime wedge and salt shaker, and I nearly chundered right there and then. The smell was stuck in my nostrils; it was terrible. I licked the salt, downed the shot and bit the lime, and felt like I’d swallowed a thousand nails, slicing my throat. I was not doing another. A few pints in, I still felt terrible, so I switched to the faithful screwdriver cocktail. This was another mistake, as it hit my bloodstream faster than heroin. I was paralytic. The rest of the afternoon, evening and night became a blur, and the only thing that hurt more than my entire body the next morning was my bank balance.
Makes you feel terrible, an affront to the soul, and gets you very intoxicated very quickly resulting in a much greater hangover the next day, though it is a lot of fun.
Option Four: The Long Walk to Freedom
I’m going to be very open and very honest with you now. This was arguably the single most idiotic thing I have done in my twenty-four years on this planet (and trust me, that’s the top of a very long list). A friend of mine swore on a nice walk to clear his hangovers. He is no longer a friend. Not only do you have to be presentable to the outside world – this involves not only getting dressed, but showering and functioning in society – you have to deal with the general populace, which I cannot stand. After a shower and the struggles of dressing myself, with a sit down in between, the previous night having included eight bottles of Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie and causing the well-known horrors of a champagne hangover, I was ready to leave the house.
I live near a water park so I thought a stroll around the reservoirs would probably be best. I made it precisely six metres, the distance from my front door to the road, before I knew this was bad idea. It felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut, I couldn’t breathe, but I carried on and made it to the water park. My worst nightmare was there before me – screaming hyperactive children. It was horrific. I’m having flashbacks as I write this. They were running around, and generally being children, their screeching piercing through my already throbbing skull. It was to get much worse too. I pushed past the crowd, and it was some kind of fun run thing, a paradox of the English language. “Fun” and “run” should not appear in the same sentence. I digress. I made it halfway around the first lake before I had to turn back, as a rising vomiting sensation had struck. It was time to go home.
I struggled past the pain to get to the corner of my street just in time to hear the ice cream van start its satanic call to arms. The murderous chorus of Pop Goes the Weasel not only startled me half to death, but seemed to pull my soul out of my body, just as Amrish Puri pulled out that screaming man’s heart in The Temple of Doom, chanting “Kali Maa” whilst it burst into flames. I have never walked so quickly in my life, retreating to the safety of my own home never to leave again.
The human race has spent millennia perfecting the insides of our homes. Never leave that perfection. The outside world is vastly overrated.
My liver hates me, the kidneys are in agony, but those are the first four hangover options. Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment, and tweet me – I’d love to hear what you think the best cure is and in the name of science I will impartially proceed to get wasted and give it a try. I leave you with the words of American humourist, actor and columnist Robert Benchley. “A real hangover is nothing to try out family remedies on. The only cure for a real hangover is death.
Image: Leo Hidalgo