The effect of too much pine-fresh Jif and tequila

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The Independent Online

"Wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things," the Bible tells us, and both judgements apply in equal measure to this, the festival aftermath. It has been years that Christmas was very merry without help, and anyone in the prime of life facing the demands that catering, stockings, trees, parties and transport all make, will know that this holiday season should not be attempted sober.

"Wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things," the Bible tells us, and both judgements apply in equal measure to this, the festival aftermath. It has been years that Christmas was very merry without help, and anyone in the prime of life facing the demands that catering, stockings, trees, parties and transport all make, will know that this holiday season should not be attempted sober.

So here we are, at that time of year when oenophiles like to share what we've learned, to unpack the many-layered experiences of the last three days, to share information, advice, recommendations and new discoveries.

The memory of our unforgettable evening eludes me just now. But the experience has left tracks; we can take back-bearings and deduce the content of the evening, if only to hope we never do it again.

Let's look at the colour first. The mirror reveals not so much bags under the eyes as a suite of luggage in darkened alligator hide; cheesy cheeks are freaked with tiny veins creating a warm blush against a truly rare pallor. The fingernails carry remnants of the street, as though they have been dragged across a pavement. Perhaps they have. Through a jagged hole in the knee of the trousers there is a dark gash mounted by dried blood.

The origins of this condition are hard to positively identify, though certain aspects (the bubbling nausea, for instance) are reminiscent of an evening on Spetses, 25 years ago, involving five bottles of Cantonese champagne and a jug of hot retsina we'd been using to unblock sinks with.

We were young then, and full of promise as well as the Cantonese champagne. We were capable of anything, for such is youth.

So let us not jump to conclusions.

What else have we? A certain faiblesse in the major torso organs; a heavy sense of an anaesthetic wearing off, as we continue to have our organs gnawed upon by a toxic dog. Yes, these are unmistakeable, there's only one source for these sensations, these are the legacies of the great, booming burgundies. The powerful reds with their historical sense of themselves. The forward attack, the enveloping aura of the afterburn. The sonorities linger. The echoes ripple out in waves. We can only sit and appreciate the complex interactions of a fermentation process that is still going on and will continue to do so for 56 hours to come.

But the general sense of having been in a fight - whence that? Consider, too, the light slick of perspiration which is prompted by sudden movement, or by energetic movement, or by movement. These are more subtle indications of, perhaps, mulled red wine? Possibly mulled wine spiced with herbs and zest of kitchen cleaning agent - something to give it a little kick, a little playfulness - Jif, maybe? Pine-fresh Jif? Yes, I think it might be pine-fresh Jif, a tea bag and a shot of tequila. Things are coming back to me now (and I'm calculating the distance to the bathroom).

Now. That purplish glow at the back of the head, coiling up around the brain stem with a powerful, constricting motion - that is the unnmistakeable effect of port. We thought we were too old to be caught out by port. But port plays its trick again and again. You can drink it indefinitely because it doesn't make you any drunker while you are actually drinking it. And so, when we close our eyes, the sudden, branching, electric flash through the corneal fluid that connects the eyes to the temples and - mysteriously - our canines - that is a sign of a hangover we had never dared hope to experience again.

That is like playing the alto part of the Hallelujah Chorus by dragging your front teeth around a blackboard. That's how we know it's Christmas.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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