Low life

Morning after

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

I woke up in the foetal position, on my back, on Trev’s tiny sofa, with an old curtain over me. This curtain was a step up from the tea towel I once found draped over me when I woke there. Then the usual panic-stricken search for phone, wallet and glasses. My wallet was in my back pocket. My glasses were on the floor over by the television as if flung there. No phone, though. Oh, good.

I had not the faintest idea what the time was. I peered out of the grimy window to try to gauge the hour by the strength of the daylight. The sky was overcast, the road empty. Difficult to tell. There wasn’t a clock in the sitting room. Nor was there one in the kitchen. I opened Trev’s bedroom door and crept in to look for his phone.

Trev, all head and massive, tattooed torso, was sleeping on his side, gently, like a big baby. In his bedroom’s half-light, I tried to see him through the eyes of the metaphysical poet John Donne, who also admired and sought the company of what he called ‘fighting and untrussed gallants’. Not that I would have lasted five minutes among those toughs in tights. I would have been mercilessly derided as ‘Mr What’s-the-Time?’ no doubt, or as a ludicrously lightweight drinker.

I spotted Trev’s phone on his bedside table next to his Lambert & Butler Golds and his disposable lighter. It was a smartphone. Not a brand I recognised. The hard casing was partially melted. I tried to wake it up. I didn’t know whether to tap the screen, swipe it, or talk to it nicely. I tried all three methods and succeeded only in opening Trev’s eyes. The eyelids sprang apart, instantly awake. ‘All right, Bud?’ he said, genially. ‘What time is it?’ I said.


He took the phone and activated it. ‘Ten twenty-nine,’ he said. He showed me the phone’s home screen to prove it. Virtual raindrops were streaming down the inside. He switched on a pair of windscreen wipers that squeaked realistically and he roared with delighted laughter at the absurdity of it. My mission to pinpoint my position in time as well as space now accomplished, I walked around to the empty side of his bed, lay down on my back beside him, groaned and expired.

He reached out for a fag, poked it between his lips and put a long flame against the end. The filter was submerged entirely by Trev’s encircling lips and he sucked the guts out of the fag in four or five Herculean tokes. Disposing of the collapsed remains, he promptly lit a fresh one for a more leisurely smoke.

‘What time did we get back?’ he said, exhaling a great nimbus plume of smoke. ‘Pass,’ I said. I couldn’t even hazard a guess.

The pubs were quiet for a Saturday night, so we’d called a taxi and gone over to Torquay where the pubs and clubs are never quiet. Not to my knowledge. We offered the spare places in the cab to anyone in the pub who fancied an outing, and these were accepted by three total strangers: a laughing woman sitting alone at the bar, a man with a permanent, wide and apparently genuine smile, and his friend, an unsmiling unapologetically masculine woman who seemed very nice.

‘How did we get home?’ said Trev. ‘Taxi,’ I said with a momentary flash of insight. ‘Don’t remember it,’ he said, dismissing the subject. Alighting on a much more congenial one, he said, ‘The fanny in that club we went to — what was it called again? Man, it was everywhere!’ He might have been an old 49er reporting on a visit to El Dorado. ‘We’ve still ended up here, though,’ I reminded him bitterly. ‘Like this.’ ‘Your trouble is you get too pissed,’ he said. ‘And what’s your excuse?’ I said. ‘I was doing OK!’ he said indignantly. ‘I was getting on like a house on fire with this one particular party. She was outside, smoking. And then that lesbian woman came over and stuck her nose in for some reason, she must have fancied her or something, and that ruined it.’ ‘Well I’m blowed,’ I said.

I remembered my phone. ‘I’ve lost my phone,’ I said. ‘I’ll ring it,’ he said. ‘I never thought of that,’ I said.

He reached for his, scrolled through his phonebook and rang the number. I got up and tottered to the lavatory, from where I could hear that someone had answered Trev’s call and was holding a cheerful conversation with him.

On my return, I heard him say, ‘Cheers, Bud! Cheers!’ and end the call. A happy outcome by the sound of it. ‘Well?’ I said. ‘Well, what?’ he said. ‘Well, who was it, and where were they?’ I said. ‘I forgot to ask,’ he said. ‘Coffee?’ I said. ‘I could try one, I suppose,’ he said.

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  • Jackthesmilingblack

    We had this “Matsuri” (cultural event) last Sunday and our foreigners` group was scheduled to participate. I showed up at the appointed time, 08.30 and the Japanese had the situation well in hand. But no Caucasian foreigners had shown up. About 10.00 this German guy rang me saying, “I wasn`t sure what time I was supposed to arrive.” OK, so you over-slept. If a German bloke isn`t punctual there`s zero chance that hungover, drink-sodden Brits are going to make it on time. Another chapter for the cross-culture communication manual.
    Jack, Central Japan Alps

    • Toby Esterházy

      Good grief! The “first comment” trolls like you are just so tedious!

      What kind of an atheist hangs around in religious buildings? You are an atheist, just not in Japan! What a hypocrite!

  • kylie jane brown

    brilliant article – good work Mr Clarke – Take care

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