There are many really idiotic things I’ve done in my life that I just can’t talk about here, for reasons of taste and decency and not wanting to upset people who are still alive. The list below is therefore not really my proper Top 10, but is just a collection of things I am able to share without people reacting with “Oh, my God, I’m never talking to him again” or perhaps just a simple “Yuk”! Well, possibly. The ones with an (A) after them are alcohol-related.
(10) Robin Reliant
Perhaps twenty years ago I was walking past a garage, not far from home, that specialised in servicing Robin Reliants. A man walked out of the office attached to the garage, spotted me and asked “Is this your car then”? For some utterly bizarre reason I responded with a confident “Yes”, at which point he reeled off a list of things that were wrong with the car, and how much it would all cost to fix. I waited for him to finish, my mind in turmoil, at which point I squeaked “Er, the thing is…er, well, er…this isn’t actually my car. I was just walking past really”.
I won’t repeat his reply, but most of the words began with “f”. A terrible, toe-curlingly embarrassing, self-inflicted wound.
(9) Offered someone odds of 42/1 that they wouldn’t win a frame of snooker
Definitely one that I file under “Stupidest money-making scheme ever”. Two mates were playing snooker and I told one of them (Mr W) that he wouldn’t win the frame and that he could have 42/1 on himself (the same odds that Buster Douglas was before he knocked out Mike Tyson). Twenty minutes later the 42/1 shot romped home. A few more “double or quits” and a few pints of lager later I left the snooker club owing hundreds of pounds. Luckily, after paying off a chunk, Mr W let me off the rest. Lesson learnt? Yes, for a while.
Kitchen bin needed disinfecting but I had no disinfectant. I assumed sterilising tablets (for baby bottles etc) would be fine. They probably would have been, had I used cold water. Instead, I poured boiling water into the bin after throwing in the tablets. That released chlorine gas, which I didn’t realise until I leaned over to see if my scheme was working. My head went fuzzy and I staggered about for a while. Not quite like being gassed in a WW1 trench, but not a good feeling.
(7) The power of prayer
When you’re at a Catholic boarding school they tend to take a dim view of devil worship. Yep, that was me reading the “Lord’s Prayer” backwards while looking into a mirror at a burning candle behind me in a darkened room. Someone had suggested it, so I volunteered to do it. Oh how the school authorities laughed when the news spread. And how my backside ached when they caught the culprit.
(6) Miniatures (A)
When we were teenagers, a mate’s Dad split-up with his Mum and moved out. He left behind a very large collection of miniatures, spirits and the like collected from all over the world during his travels with the Army. Mainly they were from the Far East, as I remember. What better revenge could a couple of 14 year olds get on this man than to drink all his prized miniatures collected over twenty years or more from various journeys around the globe? After the session, we felt rather ill, but not as ill as when his Mum and Dad reunited a few days later and there was quite alot of explaining to do. Luckily for us (!), a permanent split occurred soon after.
(5) Sleep (A)
Before mobile phones, if you had arranged to stay at a mate’s house after a heavy night on the “sauce” with him and a few others, it was a good idea to stick together in the pub/nightclub/curry house etc. Arriving back at his house, miles from mine, after having lost track of each other, the sight of a house in complete darkness was not a good one (he’d decided to stay at another mate’s house and had forgotten about me!). Even worse was the sight of the taxi that took me there speeding away up the road. Sleeping on a doorstep isn’t a great look when you’re hammered, but it’s better than sleeping under your mate’s wife’s car when it starts to rain, which is what I did when the heavens opened. I have no idea if, at about 7 am, any neighbours saw me emerge from under the car, dust myself down, and stagger to the nearest train station, but it’s possible I suppose.
(4) Golf (A)
A fairly recent one. Wife’s birthday BBQ at our house. Got quite drunk and decided that “Street Golf” was a good idea. Standing on the pavement, in broad daylight, outside your house with a 3 wood and a pitching wedge, hitting balls over the houses opposite (or trying to) is not recommended when you’re sober, even less so when you’re not. No complaints received, so far, though some geraniums did go missing a couple of days later in what could have been a “revenge attack”.
(3) Bike (A)
1989, aged 18. Working in a pub, where we traditionally went out after closing-time and got smashed. I realised, after emerging from a nightclub, that I’d left my bike (actually it was my Dad’s) at the pub. Staggered back there, which took 30 minutes, only to realise the bike-lock key was in my coat, which I’d left in the now closed pub. As the bike was locked, but not locked to anything solid, I decided to carry it home. Two hours later I was home, having briefly collapsed and thrown-up outside Knight & Lee. My hands were quite dirty, having got loads of bike oil on them as I carried the damn thing home. My bed beckoned. Next day I woke when my Dad knocked on my bedroom door. “Good night then”? he asked. “Yep” I mumbled. “Good, when you’re up you can clean the front room”.
The front room was covered in bike oil, all in lovely “handprint” format, after I had staggered round it at about 4.30 am trying to find the stairs. It did all come off eventually, some time in 1995 I think it was.
(2) Yummy (A)
On a friend’s stag do we went to Newbury Racecourse for the afternoon. Do I need to say that I was trollied, smashed, hammered, drunk? No. Anyway, I was. On the minibus back, for which a £50 deposit had been lodged, some of the Cuban cigars that had been taken along for the day still remained. Two people took me up on my challenge that “for £2 I will eat one”. With £4 safely tucked in my pocket I felt quite happy (I’d blown a fair bit of cash at the races and needed to recoup some) but minutes later that old Cuban cigar decided he wanted to make a reapperance. He did, much to everyone’s amusement, except of course the mate who had lodged the £50 deposit with the minibus company. His £50 was now looking seriously like it was going to be spent on cleaning-up, rather than going back into his pocket.
I vaguely remember being the last one to get off the minbus, having been on my hands and knees with a copy of “The Sun” trying desperately to clean-up. The rather unimpressed driver told me to “Just get off” when I asked about the deposit. He seemed rather unhappy.
(1) Diabolical (A)
Almost 20 years on, if you still hate yourself for something you did then you know it was a really bad one.
1993 and I was house-sharing with two other blokes, Saturday night…drunk. As we staggered home I was desperately hoping my bladder wasn’t going to burst. As we got level with next door’s front door I could take it no more. Yes, I could have peed in the street, but their letterbox seemed like a better idea. The house was in darkness, I guessed they were in bed. With the dreadful deed almost completed, I was a little taken aback when the occupants of next door appeared as if from nowhere (they had been in the local pub and I was too pissed to notice them walking towards me until it was too late). They shouted, and we ran down an alley between the houses and into our house through the back door. Seconds later they arrived (two adults, two teenage boys) and hammered on the back door. They weren’t pleased.
My mates dog now got involved and started barking his head off. Max was a cross between a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler. I didn’t like him much, but now he became quite useful. I took him by the collar and dragged him to the kitchen door where the teenagers were seemingly intent on spilling blood. My blood. This changed after I made it quite clear to them that Max was upset and that if they didn’t “F*ck off” I would let him loose. Order was restored.
So there you go. Pissed through someone’s letterbox then threatened them with a psycho dog attack when they had the temerity to complain. Classy.