The year is 2006, the venue the German World Cup. Two of my friends – Richard and Trippy T – are sharing a ground-floor hotel room somewhere in Deutschland.
Upon arrival, they enjoy a few beers, bask in the sunshine and absorb the spectacle, wonder and pageantry of the event. Then Trippy T’s back starts to play him up. Realising alcohol cannot dull the effects of an old motorcycle injury, he decides to head back to the hotel. ‘I just need a good night’s sleep,’ he says to Richard. ‘Please, try not to wake me up when you come back.’
‘No problemo,’ Richard replies. ‘I’ll probably only have a couple more myself.’
Famous last words.
Richard is one of those rare individuals who is capable of reaching a Zen-like state of inebriation, in which he is neither wholly conscious nor unconscious: external stimuli cease to fully register, but the random firing of synapses will cause him to suddenly lurch into loll-headed action, scattering pint glasses and stepping on toes as he attempts to stand, or spraying coins from his pocket as staggers back towards the bar.
Fast forward to 03:30.
Trippy has finally managed to get to sleep when he is awoken by a tapping at the window. He rises to find Richard’s pale, podgy face staring through the window at him, so drunk he is barely able to stand.
‘I’m locked out, Trippy. Can you let me in?’
Their hotel did not have a 24-hour front desk, so access between 00:00 and 06:00 was controlled by either a key card or someone buzzing you in. Richard’s key card had disappeared during his drunken binge, so poor Trippy was forced to hobble all the way over to the foyer and buzz him in, then help the legless fool back to their room.
Once there, Richard was asleep in seconds. Trippy struggled, but eventually managed to drift off as well . . .
. . . only to be awoken by someone tapping at the window.
Scarcely able to believe his eyes, Trippy awoke, rose and again found himself gazing at Richard’s pale and ghostly face on the other side of the window. The only difference was that this time, Richard wore nothing but his boxer shorts.
‘I’m locked out,’ Richard mewled. ‘Can you let me in?’
The same painful process of allowing Richard access to the hotel was repeated. As Trippy limped back to his room, he began to piece together what had happened.
Around 05:00, Richard had risen with the need to urinate, but had been so utterly shandied that he had managed to mistake the door to his room for the toilet door. After bumbling through said portal – and undeterred by the fact he was now in a long, carpeted corridor rather than a small, tiled chamber – Richard continued to stagger forward, stubbornly convinced his toilet must be somewhere up ahead. Even the wide open space of the hotel’s foyer had failed to rob him of this conviction, nor the fact that the only door he could find – the hotel’s main door – required him to buzz himself outside.
Finally, it seems the feel of cool, damp grass beneath his feet registered in Richard’s mind and he realised his predicament: outside, alone, near naked and still with a bulging bladder .
Next morning, my friends made a sorry sight as they headed for their continental breakfasts: the one hollow-eyed and listless from lack of sleep, the other twitching and feverish from a terrible hangover and dim memories of having humiliated himself . . .