Growing up with parents whose partying and drinking habits made Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper look like teetotal squares, means my childhood memories are full of impromptu house parties where I’d sit on the stairs – way past bedtime – with my siblings, watching the exciting goings on through plumes of smoke from Embassy Gold cigarettes and a pumping soundtrack of Diana Ross and Rod Stewart. I marvelled at the colourful concoctions that the glamorous ladies were sipping and wondered to myself why their dancing became more enthusiastic and their voices louder after each glass. Well, now I know.
Nowadays, my mum and dad are happily sipping red wine on the Costa del Sol and have handed over the party baton – or should that be ‘the party bottle’ – to me with the tipple de jour now being Prosecco rather than Babycham.
My love of bubbles is known throughout social circles and I’m often referred to as Fizzy Friday by many friends who know that when that sweet spot of 5 o’clock on a Friday comes-a-calling (or maybe 4.30 in the summer…) I’m off to our local for cut-price Prosecco night!
Sadly though, I’m realising more and more that my love of bubbles has to be reigned in – as my grown-up kids now delight in informing me. After a few drinks, it doesn’t take ‘fun, party mum’ long before she leaves the building, pushed meanly out of the exit and replaced the next day by stumbling, morose ‘hangover mum’. And boy, she’s not a pretty sight.
I need to face it, my mid-lifer’s body can no longer metabolise alcohol as it once could pre-40. And though I may look quite youthful for my age (*cough* so I’ve been told) there’s no hiding from the slowly disintegrating cells inside my body.
‘Hangover mum’ can be found curled up on the sofa – a shaking, green wreck of a woman, muttering nonsensical sentences littered with foodstuff words from the carb and sugar category in a pathetic, trembly little voice: “Oooh, head… feel… sick… must have Lucozade… pizza… help… noooo… need bucket… crisps…cheese… bread… water…heeeelp…” I still try the “Mummy has a tummy bug kids, you’ll have to fend for yourself today” excuse, but instead of getting a sympathetic response and a blanket tucked around me, I get smirks and eye-rolls from Grown-Up Girl and Uni Lad, who leave me to fester without even fetching me a glass of water. So selfish!
But it’s not even the hangover that’s the worse thing, it’s the feeling of guilt! As I lie in bed, clutching my head and trying to work out how bad this hangover is on a scale of 1-10 (often 8 and above nowadays), I suddenly have hazy flashbacks of sending love texts to friends at about five drinks in…Oh my god, what did I say? But I can’t open my eyes to check my texts because they’re stuck shut with last night’s clumpy mascara…and have I even got my phone still? Or have I lost it, because I can’t remember getting home or having my bag on me when I left the pub!
Finally managing to feel my way along the wall to the loo, one boob flopping its way out of my PJ vest, I’m seriously hoping the kids haven’t got friends staying over. Stomach churning, I crouch down at the loo and inwardly scold myself. At 48, I really shouldn’t be doing this. My 16-year-old Teen Girl knocks at the door: “Mum…are you okay? I heard you fall on the stairs last night.” Oh dear. My youngest child, she still worries about Mummy, bless her. “I’m fine babe,” I call back in my chirpiest voice, which actually sounds like a 60-year-old East End gangster who’s lived his life on a diet of Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniels. “I think I may have a tummy bug,” I venture between heaves.
“Yeah, right Mum. Course you do.” she sneers. “It’s not big and it’s not clever…” and with that, off trots Teen Girl. And you know what? She’s absolutely right!