On Green Chartreuse And Hangovers

In a state of sobriety, or near sobriety, I would never consider drinking green chartreuse.  Never.  It’s a vile liqueur – syrupy, offensively sweet and the effect it has upon me is far more devastating than its stated alcohol content might suggest.  It is a green-eyed monster, and most cruelly does it mock the meat it feeds on.

But when I get a wee bit tiddly, there are occasions when a snifter of green chartreuse sounds like the very thing to take away cares and send me skipping down the road strewing flowers from my hat and whistling a merry tune, pausing only to bestow kind words and kisses on every maiden I meet.

Last night, in the company of the Yartz crew – the finest, most fearless, talented, attractive and intrepid community television makers on the planet – at The Union Hotel, I got a wee bit tiddly.  And then I decided that un petit liqueur fabriquée à Tarragone par les Pères Chartreux was called for.

This morning, I don’t mind telling you, I felt more than usually care-worn.  Naturally, my beauty remained unimpaired, but a certain spring was noticeably absent from my stride, a certain sparkle missing from the eye.  Frisky I was not.

‘Oh for a Jeeves!’ I moaned to myself fretfully as I tried (fruitlessly) to brush the taste of chartreuse from my mouth.  Oh for a valet who shimmers to the young master’s bedside with one of the famous remedies that cured Bertie Wooster of many a crushing hangover…

In ideal circumstances I would have done the next best thing to having a Jeeves, and made the journey to Retro Cafe in Brunswick.  There, you see, the haggard wayfarer may purchase the ‘Do-It-Yourself Bloody Mary’ for which this fine establishment is so justly famed.

The Do-It-Yourself Bloody Mary arrives on a tray.  A generous measure of vodka is chilling on ice; a slender stalk of celery leans negligently against the rim of the tall, moisture-beaded glass.  A jug of chilled tomato juice, naturally, sits calmly waiting, as does a bottle of Tabasco Sauce.

Pausing only to offer up a small prayer to Bilious, the Oh God of hangovers, the one so sorely afflicted adds the tomato juice, and a very generous few dashes of Tabasco.  Then they stir the potation vigorously with the celery so admirably suited to this purpose.  If immediate relief does not follow the speedy intake of this peerless beverage, they must repeat the dosage as needed.

But this morning I had to work, so I didn’t have time to go to Brunswick, and I’m not entirely sure that being three sheets to the wind at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning would inspire confidence in my students.

The best I could do was to take solace in the description of the hangovers of others, and on the subject of hangovers, Kingsley Amis has no equal.

Have a look at this, from Lucky Jim:

‘Dixon was alive again.  Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection.  He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning.  The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eye-balls again.  A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse.  His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.  During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.  He felt bad.’


But somehow, reading that, I feel significantly better.  After work, I might even have a drink.

But it won’t be green chartreuse.


4 responses to “On Green Chartreuse And Hangovers

  1. The “do-it-yourself Bloody Mary.” What a wonderfully civilized idea for an establishment that clearly caters to its clientèle. And the description is delicious (though perhaps that’s the wrong word). I’m ashamed to say I’ve read nothing by Mr. Amis. From the excerpt, I imagine I’d like him. Where should I start?

    • Definitely start with ‘Lucky Jim’ – it’s hilarious. The perfect satire on university dons.

      Once you start with ‘Kingers’, though, you’ve got a lot ahead of you. He wrote something like fifty novels, several volumes of poems and a great deal of criticism.

      His son Martin Amis is no slouch either: there I’d start with his non-fiction (‘The War Against Cliche’ is particularly good). But Amis Jr. has ten or so novels to his credit also.

  2. “spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning” – this is exactly what happens. Absolutely!

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