Frank Coughlan: 'When reality bites after a cheery night...'
Excess is not something I get around to very often anymore. But occasionally I give common sense the day off.
I began a recent evening out with family and friends in a restaurant promising to be good.
I toyed with a nice glass of red over the starter. A considered, mature approach by a considered and mature gentleman. You don't, I told myself, need drink to have a good time. Which is perfectly true. Ahem.
At that early stage of the night it was more about catch-up and natter anyway. Everyone, it appeared, was approaching this night with similar decorum.
The unspoken consensus seemed loud and clear: we were too old, boring and respectable for silly carry-on.
Then I noticed my glass was emptying and miraculously refilling.
I couldn't figure out who was doing this until I twigged I was my own head waiter.
By now the conversation was louder too. A bit ribald.
We got the odd glance from the table behind us, occupied by a romantic couple who really only wanted to have eyes for each other.
After spilling out of the restaurant, the last patrons to surrender to the night, a few sensibly sought out a taxi home, others chased after last buses and trains.
But a hardcore minority had no thought of bed, rest or recuperation. This group, I found to my one astonishment, was being championed by me.
So we sniffed out standing room in the corner of a pub and someone got a round in. The night wasn't young but it wasn't drawing down its pension just yet either.
Feeling no pain, I downed a number of those brain-shredding designer beers that boast more muscle than Bundy Aki and come in funny glasses.
By the time I found my bed in the small hours of a big night, I was at one with the universe.
Or, to put it more succinctly, I was well sauced.
Then the next morning came and spoiled everything.
I ached in places where I didn't know I had places, while inside my head Metallica were rehearsing their next album which, of course, sounds just like their last one.
Was it worth it? Yes, because there is nothing better than a knees up with people you really like to be with.
But no, too.
The booze conglomerates don't mean it when they preach "Drink Responsibly" (their profits are dependent on exactly the opposite), but it's a good slogan nonetheless.
Less is, indeed, more. Let that be a lesson to you all.
... and smart phones make us feel foolish
THERE is something magical about a new book. Just the touch and feel, then that smell when you ease open the covers for the first time.
I have a few lined up for the Christmas break, not least the new Michael Collins tome 'The Man and the Revolution' by Anne Dolan and William Murphy, which promises to challenge some of the myths that have attached to this revered patriot.
The cover has a photograph of Collins standing on a London balcony during the Treaty negotiations of 1921.
He looks tired and a tad crumpled. Was that determination, resignation, or just exhaustion I saw?
Then I did the oddest thing: I rested my pinched thumb and forefinger on the cover and, separating them, attempted to zoom in to better read Collins' features, as if I was on my smart phone.
I've heard of toddlers, who know no better, doing that. But ageing adults?
If the Big Fellow knew what we'd become he probably wouldn't have bothered.