It’s taken me a few weeks to be able to share my sorry tale. Partly because it’s taken this long to recover and this long to remember.
During my fourteen years of having worked in the City (of London) I was a self-confessed City-Ligger, one who would go to the opening of a fridge door after hours and often during. My life now, being home with my two little girls in the country really could not be more different.
A few weeks ago, my beloved Boss was moving back to head up the Australian office relocating his lovely family to Sydney. As is standard practice in the City a lunch & a few drinks after were organised, these events are less about the person and more about everyone else; wanting to go out and sink a few.
Having been off the radar for nearly two years now I was delighted to be asked to join them. I had after all a long and illustrious history with my old Boss. We had worked so well together and had many successes over the years. More then that though we had become firm friends after spending anywhere from 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 years in each others company.
I had arranged for my husband to look after the girls for the day and I had ensured all milk, bottles, lunch & dinners were prepared and ready to go. Pyjamas and nappies had been laid out. Shampoo and dummies were in easy reach. I even sent him an email on the train telling him who usually does what when, just to make his life as easy as possible.
Getting back on that train into Town was a weird feeling. I looked just like every other commuter yet it felt so different. Arriving into Kings Cross St Pancras I forgot just how busy London actually is, even out of rush hour. The frantic pace of people milling about the station & roads & tubes caught me off guard. At first i wondered if a fire alarm had gone off such were the scenes of people running everywhere.
Walking through the station i soon picked up pace and slipped seamlessly into my old life. By the time i walked through the tube doors my elbows were out and I was ready to assert my territory as only a true London commuter can.
Being in the City was lovely. Everything had changed and nothing had changed. It was nice to see old faces and to hear how their lives were going and to catch up on market gossip.
During the lunch and at the drinks in the bar after I tried to limit my alcohol intake as I am not used to drinking so excessively like I used to. 3 glasses of wine is a big night for me these days. I didn’t do a very good job though and I could feel myself getting more and more inebriated. I was drinking pink Champagne and it was slipping down a treat and as is often the Corporate Card culture, it just kept on coming.
After a few hours of feeling quite wobbly I knew I had to leave. I had started to talk absolute jibberish and with over an hour of commuting ahead of me to get home I started up the engines. I remember weaving all the way to Liverpool Street Station trying to make sense of the barriers and the thousands of people around me. Why I didn’t get a cab i don’t know.
Once i got to Kings Cross St Pancras station my only goal was to secure food. I queued up at some burger bar, heavily leaning on the counter begging for a burger, which once i had paid for i carried off to eat on the train.
Sitting on the train I remember being seated opposite this guy reading his tablet. I was mauling my food like a rabid dog and I could see his eyes following me over his tablet computer. I don’t suppose for one minute it was a good look.
I don’t think i managed to eat it all before i pulled my coat tight around me and fell asleep (code for passed out) window sucking. I miraculously woke up as the driver announced we were coming into my station.
What amazes me about my rare night out is that after my hiatus from the City lights I easily slipped back into my old life of drinking & commuting with most notably my homing Pidgeon talents having not left me (being able to get home roaring drunk).
Now at the time I would probably of argued that I wasnt that drunk, by cold light of day I can recognise that I was steaming. By the time I fell through the front door, which my husband had to open for me and I laid sprawled on our sofa I was minutes away from my body shutting down through (alcohol) exhaustion.
I got into bed and don’t believe i moved for the next couple of hours until I woke up wondering what the hell was going on. My stomach was telling my brain all was not well and my brain was telling my body that there was a massive problem, Houston.
I came downstairs, naked (?why?) and called my friend Huey Lewis for the next few hours in the bathroom. The alcohol was so acidic it burnt as it came back up. All i could think was ‘Oh My God, I’ve got to be up in a few hours to look after the girls’.
By the time morning had come I had been sick a few more times and gotten little sleep. The girls were up as usual at 6am. I felt and looked like death warmed up. It was so nice to see them though, I had missed them both so much in the few hours I had been away and as silly as this seems to say, I don’t like missing their days and their bath time, not even one day. It’s our time.
On saying that I praised the Lord that Belle was going to nursery for a few hours that morning so it just left Jools, who still only 4 months old tended to still sleep a fair bit, with me. I had also arranged a Doctors appointment very early that morning for a gynecological check up of sorts. What a school girl error! Lets just say that was all i needed that morning and laying under those bright lights trading pleasantries did not help. The Doctor commented that I was quite hot (and sweaty). I didn’t have the nerve to tell her I had spent the last 4 hours throwing up through alcohol abuse, it’s hardly the endearing behaviour of a Mother of two girls with the youngest only being weeks old.
And my day as you would expect went from awful to utterly horrendous. Full of remorse and guilt for not being able to function properly, Cbeebies and toast reigned in our house that day. I curled up on the sofa and encouraged the girls to sit with me under the blanket reading their books.
I went to bed the same time they did and woke the next morning still feeling unwell. That’s when you know it’s bad.
Once the fug had cleared I realised that the leaving drinks I had been to were actually the final severing of my ties in the City. With my Boss no longer being there I had little to pull me back, so in many ways, the leaving drinks were mine.
For a small part of my day I had missed the familiar faces and familiar conversations but as they saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and I no longer have a love affair with all things City. It felt like i imagine it does with an ex-boyfriend when you go back to see them. It’s nice at first but then you realise why you left in the first place and you can’t get away fast enough.