Saturday, 12 July 2014

Lash and Lacplesis 2: Turning and turning in a widening gyre

‘Shit’ I muttered to myself as I woke up, looking at my watch. It was midday and I felt like death. This was not an usual feeling on high days and holidays, in a recent trip to Hong Kong I had rarely surfaced before four in the afternoon to spend most of the nice punishing wallet, liver and innocence. As with any night of drunken debauchery brief glimmers kept coming back to me. Did I really get up on stage and give a rendition of Mark Morrison’s 1996 classic ‘Return of the Mac’? Did I really pay the equivalent of £20 on a round of Rigan Black Balzam for a twenty strong group? Was I so convinced some new ‘friends’ found in one of the bars were pick-pockets and forced my travelling companion and I to depart rapidly? Did I really pass out at 9 in the morning and wake up on the cold parquet floor? Well… the latter I could answer easily enough as that was where I found myself as I tried to piece the previous evening together from a jumble of hazy mental pictures.

The bars came thick and fast and the beers, vodka red bulls and shots of Black Balzam flowed freely. We met all and sundry, from the foreign exchange students to the middle aged British couple who claimed that they had disovered this Baltic gem years before the rabble descended. Seemingly as a reward, or more a punishment for the scintillating banter that I inflicted in this latter couple, a former electrical engineer and his wife with a complexion like David Dickinson polished with a can of Pledge, they brought me a shot. In fact it was a double shot of Jaegermeister… just filthy, and it was a true test of my gag reflex to keep that foul mixture down. The only consolation was that at least is was a little better than the filthy Black Balzam that seemed to be everywhere.

Moving from bar to bar we eventually ended up at a really unsavoury club that was bursting to the gunnels with people spilling out onto the cobbled pavement. It was here that the evening really took off into another galaxy and where, much to my friend’s embarrassment, I gave a rather passionate three song set covering the New Jack Swing/R&B genre of the early to mid-nineties. Needless to say, we fell back through the door of the bolt-hole the wrong side of 8 in the morning and waking three hours later on the wooden floor I took the somewhat foolish decision to get up, get dressed and talk a walk around the town as much to pull myself together for another day of riotous fun as to get some food and a much needed can of Coca Cola to sop up some of the booze that was still floating about my system.

I soon found salvation in a lesser known fast food retailer, Hesburger, the Scandinavian equivalent to Burger King, serving such interesting offerings as Ruis Burger (in a rye bun with onion rings) and Sausage Potatoes (chopped sausage and gherkins on chips) and the dubious kebab burger, which I opted for in my still drunken stupor. Two flabby patties of seasoned lamb were sandwiched between a soggy pita and garnished with excessive amounts of raw onion and Big Mac sauce. I took two bites and felt distinctly nauseas. My friend opted for a safer ‘Double Burger’ but was more intrigued by a group of squat, hirsute gentlemen who had walked into the joint.
'Definitely Israeli special forces’ he said, as if Riga was some spring resort for members of Mossad, ‘yes, most definitely, that guy over there could snap your neck with his index finger.’ I took his word for it, they looked like hard-boiled fighters and in my soft-boiled state, I was in no hurry to befriend them.

The Israeli theme that seemed to creep up on our lunchtime recovery was from over as, having finished the burger and chugging down Café Crème cigarillos in an attempt to shake the Black Balzam that was ravaging my innards I came across a Russian doll shop specializing in world leaders, or, in fact three themed collections: US Democrat presidents, Glasnost Politburo and hard-line Israeli Prime Ministers. The latter was both hilariously offensive and on special offer, I couldn’t resist – it would be the perfect present for my brother! The woman behind the counter gave a chuckle as I purchased the doll and duly informed me that this was one of their ‘best-sellers’, maybe this was, after all a popular destination for Israeli special forces!

Of course, buoyed by the purchase a beer soon followed and, of course a shot of the villainous Black Balzam. I instantly felt better, there was indeed some black magic in this liquor! And so began a bar crawl throughout the afternoon, punctuated by the FA Cup final and various groups of middle aged men sinking pints of Guinness and getting up to all sorts of vulgar shenanigans in the name of the lads! It was in this vein that we limbered up for yet another evening of debauchery, which I will be covering tomorrow in the third and final part of this epic trip! 

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