Kept in line with truncheons, rifle butts and truncheons – sometime in April 1994

Shorthaired Johnny was being as obnoxious as ever, talking dicks and innuendo, Mr Entendre. Stomping around in bovver boots and his white T-shirt freshly laundered tucked into his jeans, new tattoos still scabby and iridescent. His big grin splits his head in half like the smiley planet from Moonshadow, and always attached to one hand or the other a can of lager (sometimes substituted for Guinness, sometimes tequila).

His eyes wide in a mad amphetamine haze, brain desperately taking in information like a wide angle lens but concentration is still good, unlike wife Selena whose strange tangents I cant keep up with, and mouth in fast forward, all else too drunk to get their words in edgeways, so while pondering her last statement she’s off again on the next story (which, we all laugh, all start ‘one time, when I was drunk’). She’s in black I think, hair wild, rocky horror and while we slam tequila she fills her glass with it and pours in some wine for good measure and sips slowly between stories, my guess that one drink lasting all night.

Her friend Lisa, the spitting image, drunkenly believes everything she’s being told and confused sitting out the side for awhile. We’re round the dining room table within reach of the fridge for more beers, and the kitchen is right there too for food and coffees, Rich, sober Rich, sipping caffeine at the start of his straightedge kick, despite his sobriety he’s laughing and playing too, laughing at himself as he says ‘well at least you guys have got an excuse (for acting like we are) you’re drunk!’ This straight edge suits him but somehow seems out of place amongst this rabble of drunkenness.

Broni, sober till midnight, is ever smiling and laughing at the merriment, she sits next to Selena, so like the rest of us Selena is talking to, we don’t get words in. I sit there too with Broni, hardly saying anything, stoned as we are and getting immediately drunk with these slammers and beers now strewn across the table.

At the other end sit three guys out of the band that played in town that night, willing and capable comrades in this action. I know not their names but let me describe instead.

One is blonde and rough, hair stuck straight up in air, black denim dressed, drunk and with a broad Scottish accent, I have no idea what he’s saying but it’s fun watching him stumble round the room, confusing Lisa, but I see later they are talking more properly.

Another Scottish fellow has short cropped hair, an altogether more sensible looking man in jeans and T-shirt (probably), except that here we double-take, he lowers his head shaved into the crop is a question mark, which explains is great if anyone asks you a question you’re not sure how to answer, just lowering skull for the quizzer to make their own mind up, these amused our drunken minds immensely.

Last is an American guy who reminds me of American guys, only in looks not in actions, I talk with him some but now it’s gone to hangover land.

Finally Rob is flitting around the table making conversations with anyone and everyone, he sits and listens patiently and then talks directly back with earnest, occasionally lifting his finger to gently push his glasses back at the bridge of his nose, sliding down as they would in the heat of this madhouse. Rob has to be commended as we find out in the morning he was up talking with Selena, who is totally faced and he’s drunk at the start and sober by the end, he goes to sleep about 15 minutes before we wake him up again, willingly making us coffees.

And some tunes blasting out through all the madness, in the other room (into the hall and there) John is shouting out with his loudest three in the morning voice ‘kept in line with truncheons, rifle butts and truncheons, this is state control, this is state control’, no one else deigning to join in, but back in the kitchen we raise ourselves out to chair stupor to jive to the sounds of the Rocket from the Crypt, those guys know how to drink therefore they know how to make music for drunkers.

And it’s here and then, in this wreckage, I realise what great friends I have around me, from my beautiful sweetheart, gentle soul-searching Rob, sober Rich, whether you’re in trouble or just in need of a beer. My loss, and Broni’s too, will be great when we have to say goodbye to them as we leave for sunnier climes, but you can guess that on that last night is going to be one hell of a party!

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