The Hangover

As Kris Kristofferson once sang “I woke up Sunday morning, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt”. It is a great song and that line sums up exactly how I found myself after my sister’s 30th. The party was catered by her husband, a chef who has gone back to Uni to study brewing. Needless to say the quality of his food and beer was outstanding. While technically accurate to call his beer homebrew does not describe the professionalism and creativity with which he approaches his craft… and it is a craft. He does not simply buy a can of “homebrew mix” from the supermarket. He mashes the grains, boils the wort, does whatever it is you do with hops and he doesn’t even use tap water (apparently the quality of the water is very important). This is not so much a homebrew as a craft beer. These were awesome, but never let anyone tell you that the beauty of homebrew is that it has no preservatives, so you don’t get a headache the next day.  Anyone who says that simply isn’t trying hard enough.

The jarring thing about this hangover was that it is something with which I am no longer accustomed. I had not had a hangover in a long time. This is due largely to the fact that I now have small children. Kids are not sympathetic to the hungover. Kids are happy to jump and climb all over you, oblivious to the fact that one misplaced foot may result in them wearing the contents of last nights dinner. I would not say that since I had kids that I drink less, if anything I drink a little more. Now it is just spread across more days. I used to drink very little during the week. I could go from Monday to Thursday without ever thinking of opening the fridge and having a beer.  The weekends is when I got my drink on. I would go out with friends, we’d drink, have fun and invariably wake up hungover.  That all changed with kids. I still go out with friends and although I am less inclined to drink until I drop, I still enjoy quite a few social beers. What has changed now is the drinking during the week. It is a rare week when I will go Monday to Thursday without a tipple. Before I had kids I enjoyed a beer, but I never needed one. Having a drink at the end of the day used to be about relaxing, these days it’s about survival.

Having had my first proper hangover for a couple of years I realised that there is something a little bit charming about them. They bring out my philosophical side. Whilst I am not advocating the early stages of the hangover, there is something to be said for the latter stages. The stage once the nausea has passed and the headache subsided. The stage where you are left with foggy headedess and fatigue. Normally these are not feelings one would seek out, but in contrast to the early stages of a hangover these are welcome relief. Encompassed in the fog of this late stage of a hangover life seems simpler and even a little more beautiful. It is easier to appreciate the simple pleasure in life, such as a good coffee, a piece of toast with butter on it, or sitting perfectly still, not talking, not thinking, just being. I think what I have discovered is that the closest I get to Zen is when I am hungover. Who says the answers aren’t at the bottom of a bottle.