Okay, that was probably an irresponsible choice of title for the blog. I’m just trying to reel readers in with SHOCK and sensationalism. I’d sell my granny for 1000 page clicks (nb: she’s dead).
Actually, bad as it sounds, I think once upon a time I did quite enjoy drink driving. It’s not something I’m proud of. One particular incident stands out for me, waaaay back around Y2K (I’m so TREND that it hurts). I was at a party in Dewsbury, fully intending to sleep over at the hosts gaff, when a huge venomous argument erupted. I was over half a bottle of vodka into my night already, and so I don’t even remember what we argued about, but it ended with me throwing my toys out of the pram and marching out towards my little red Fiesta, 70cl Smirnoff bottle still in-hand. I slammed on my Pantera cassette (Vulgar Display Of Power for you rock fans), and squealed off into the night.
Well – I’m not sure a 1ltr Fiesta can really ‘squeal’ but you get the gist. A vulgar display of 45 brake horse power…
I tore through the backstreets of West Yorkshire like a madman, cutting through the evening mist like a goddamn turbo lazerbeam from space. I was having so much fun that when I got near my house I decided to just keep on driving. I drove until the early hours, reaching Scarborough before turning around, all the while blasting loud music and still sipping at my vodka. I won’t lie – I was having a great time.
It was only the morning after, when I woke up fully clothed and with a mouth that tasted like ARSE, that the stupidity of the previous evenings events started to dawn on me. I wasn’t just tipsy during my rally driving adventure, I was SMASHED. I could have easily killed myself. Other people could have died because of me!
Did it stop me doing it again though? Did it fuck.
I reckon that, in total, I probably drink-drove around 100 times before I realised I was living on borrowed time. A mate had suffered a bad accident due to drink driving a few years earlier, and a night spent listening to his drunken rantings – about how stupid I was being – had eventually hit home. “Quit whilst you’re ahead!” I told myself, and so that’s what I did. Just the drink-driving though – not the drinking. That didn’t come until 13 or 14 years later.
The thing about quitting drink-driving is that, for me, it really helped to force myself into positions where I couldn’t drink – even if I wanted to. I’d purposefully drive to a gig or a party knowing that I couldn’t have a drink because I had a car parked outside. I was strict with myself too – I wouldn’t touch a drop of booze. It’d be cokes and cups of tea for me.
What’s the point of drinking if I can’t get smashed to oblivion eh? That’s what I ALWAYS believed, therefore just having one beer never appealed to me. Yet another clue that my relationship with alcohol wasn’t healthy…
There was a worrying flip-side to this whole ‘if I’m driving then I won’t drink’ mentality though. I’d spend the night fidgeting and wanting to leave whatever gathering I was attending, and then when I finally got home I would sit up until the wee hours playing catch-up, smashing wine down my throat whilst watching shite on telly. Often on my own. In fact – mostly on my own. Wow, putting this stuff down in writing really is showing me how much of a sad bastard I was.
Another little story about drink driving springs to mind. You’ll like this one:
Somewhere in my early-to-mid twenties, before my epiphany that ‘drink driving is bad’, I had long gotten rid of the red Fiesta (given to my housemate) and had also been through a Mondeo (scrapped), and an Escort mk6 Ghia (engine exploded) before landing myself a cool looking Escort mk6 Mexico coupe in a dashing deep purple colour called ‘aubergine’. The colour was called aubergine – not the car. I’m not one of those people.
On a side note, god knows why I was such a Ford fanboy. Thankfully that phase died out around the same time as Maurice Gibb from Bee Gees died. I’m not sure if there’s any correlation.
Anyway. The aubergine had been involved in a little altercation in Leeds. Nothing drink-related, but I had been driving around Leeds ring road in the sideways rain and howling winds, on the way to see a mate of mine play a live gig at The Primrose, when I wandered into the wrong lane due to terrible visibility – and into the path of another car. The damage was only cosmetic, but the cost of repair was enough that my insurance company decided to write off my £500 motor, and I was told it would be collected from my house in the next few weeks. In the meantime I was still driving it around.
The following Friday saw me and a mate (let’s call him Ken for the sake of anonymity) conducting our usual weekend piss-up at my house. We listened to stupidly loud music, we watched horrifically disturbing movies, and we drank like a couple of proper Oliver Reeds. That particular night was all about the beers and the cheap brandy, and by midnight we were both in a state. I started to fall asleep on the sofa, and the last thing I remember seeing – I shit you not – was my mate Ken tripping drunkenly over the Ikea coffee table and flailing headfirst into a shelving unit. He knocked everything everywhere and took a nasty tumble to the carpet, collapsing like a sack of bricks, but somehow managed to spill NONE of his large brandy and coke. What a ledge.
At some point later in the evening – could have been 5 minutes later, could have been 2 hours – I was awoken by Ken asking if he could smash my car up for me. I’d already jokingly said earlier that night that it was getting taken away, so we may as well finish the bastard off. I told him “yeah dude, whatever” and rolled over on the sofa, trying to get back to sleep. Suddenly I’m being awakened by the sound of a car being driven past the house in first gear, the gearbox screaming live a banshee as it hits maybe 40 or 50 miles per hour.
“Fuck!” I thought, quickly sobering up. “Where’s Ken!?”
Ken didn’t have a driving licence. He’d never even driven a car.
Then I heard a BLAM! I ran to the door in time to see Ken climbing from the car, it’s front all splattered and mangled up with a metal railing, corrosive fluids spilling out all over the road.
The next hour was a blur, but I do remember the police turning up and taking Ken away. Another officer put me in the back of a police car for questioning, whilst a tow truck pulled the smashed-up Escort from the railings and up onto it’s back, and all I can remember about my conversation with the cops was that I was a bastard. I refused to answer any questions, and I just acted like a total drunken prick until they let me go home to bed.
Ken was released from the police cells the morning after, and came straight back to my house. He’d been charged with aggravated car theft, and driving without a licence or insurance. He told me in the kitchen how he’d been bailed to return in a few weeks. We opened some morning cans of beer and laughed the whole thing off. In the end he got a fine and community service – I think he spent a few weekends having to bake cupcakes for a community centre. Something like that anyway – didn’t sound too bad. Also, the insurance company didn’t care. They just assumed the damage was from my original accident and collected the car from the pound. I got my £500 so I was happy. Probably spunked most of it on booze.
Considering the daft things we got up to, me and my mates, I’m amazed no one ever died. It feels like I got out of that world at the right time. I think I’ve been lucky, and stopping drinking was definitely the right thing to do – quitting whilst I was still alive. I came out of the drinking life with some cool stories, and enough life left to be able to enjoy my sobriety.
Incidentally – and I’m fully aware of how hypocritical this makes me – I fucking HATE drink drivers these days. I hate any bad drivers, but drink drivers just send me into a rage. So much so that I’ve started writing a book about a ‘road rage hero’ called Gavin Fury which I’m publishing chapter-by-chapter here – feel free to check it out. Soz for using my blog as a promotion tool. Not sorry really.
As a final thought on drink driving; it does strike me as interesting how naturally the 2 things go together. What do PROPER MEN love? Beer and cars (and football but we’ll ignore that). I remember reading about Mickey Carroll, the ‘Lotto Lout’, and how he’d spaffed a load of his lottery winnings on buying cars for him and his mates to go banger racing in his huge garden, whilst off their faces on booze and drugs. Not gunna lie – that sounds like awesome fun.
Maybe that’s what we need to deter drink drivers! Some kind of Mickey Carroll theme park, where you get to drink beer and smash up cars whilst listening to Bee Gees. I’m not sure if it directly solves the problem, but surely it’s got to be a winner!? Imagine the stag-dos lining up at the door!
Somebody lend me £300k. I’ve got a plan! Get me Lord Sugar on the phone!
This time next year we’ll be zillionaires…