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Around The Sun: Lager And Lime

Steve Harrison discovers the cloudy world of alcohol.

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A rose could never lie about the love it brings, but I could never promise to be any of those things. If I were not so weak, if I were not so cold, if I were not scared of being broke and growing old. I would be… – Jars of Clay

The first time I drank beer I hated it. Dad occasionally looked after a working men’s club in Liversedge. I went along to help him. At least I thought I was helping. I distinctly remember the smell of stale beer. Now and again I would have a sip of what was left in one of the supposedly empty beer bottles. Whenever I did so I asked myself how men could enjoy this foul-smelling vile-tasting stuff.

I suppose I was 16, two years below the legal limit, when I was taken into a pub by mates. A lad who I thought was a cool dude suggested that I should drink lager and lime. So for a couple of months lager and lime was my drink of choice. What I discovered was that after drinking several pints of the stuff my shyness disappeared and my speech defect vanished. I could be a magnet for girls.

The down side was that after a few lager and limes I was unable to walk straight, think rationally or hold a conversation. There was a very fine line between being merry and blind drunk.

I used to say to myself that I would drink just up to the point of being confident enough to talk to girls while still feeling bright and chirpy. But then I would find myself seeing double, falling about, being sick.

Dad drank Guinness. Loved it. I decided to follow in his footsteps. As with beer, I at first hated the stuff, then acquired a taste for it. That was about the time when I discovered Southern Comfort. It was sweeter than whisky and seemed to go down well with Guinness. The problem was I got drunk twice as quickly.

I was still in my loner stage. I went into pubs on my on, staring across the bar at some beautiful girl, dumbstruck and infatuated. To resolve the situation I ordered a pint of Guinness and a Southern Comfort chaser, then two more, and two more. I ended up staggering home blind drunk and frustrated.

Back at the Advertising Agency everyone was a drinker. At lunch times we went into local pubs, tottering back to the studio semi-drunk. We were creative poeple. This was expected of us.

Barry Goodal, the creative director, became a very good friend of mine. He was my mentor. He drank like a fish and talked philosophy. He introduced me to all the best drinking holes. Barry and I stayed in touch down the years. Whenever I returned to Yorkshire I inevitably ended up drunk, sleeping on his sofa.

As we used to say in those days "I don't have a drinking problem. I just have a couple of drinks, then I fall down.''

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