A Tipple Too Long – The Archers of Malibu! 1984
Do you have special memories of your own for the magic day itself?
Christmas 1984, l was 21, and l was working in Woking [Surrey/UK] as an Assistant Catering Manager to the Centre Halls which was a council run building which had amenities open to the public. There was a cinema, a restaurant and a huge function hall.
One of the three biggest functions of the year was the Christmas Eve Disco, we would open the doors at around 7.30pm and we would be managing that function till around midnight. Luckily l lived close by, 20 minutes walk from home, but by the time the function had finished and we had packed up, cleaned up and closed the tills, it could be around2am before we as a team would head off home. So l would normally get back in at around 2.30am. They were long days back then in the 80’s before ‘sensible working hours’. I was contracted alone on a minimum 60 hour week, but worked closer to 100, and still only came out with a yearly salary of around £4800. Which wasn’t a lot back then, and wouldn’t be a lot now and yet, catering wages haven’t edged that far along in the last 30+ years.
However, occasionally l was allowed to take home a couple of bottles of my favourite spirit as a Christmas gift. Even rarer was the fact the very next day l was actually working Christmas day for the luncheon functions So for the first time in 3 years l had a Christmas day off. I hated it, l hated being home for Christmas day because well, we were not like other families, we didn’t really have what l would call a Christmas day!
My Father preferred to open the presents the German or Bavarian way and that was to open the presents the previous night as in Christmas Eve, not for any tradition, but just so he could sleep in till around midday. The day then involved major arguments between my parents and my Sister either going out or the pair of us up in our bedrooms. Not a great deal of fun. At 21, l lived for my career. I was a real nerdhead, boffin and geek. I wasn’t a Billy No Mates but l preferred the company of work over the company of people which was ironic given my job involved working with literally thousands of people every year. Hell, just because l was good at it, didn’t mean l liked it, was my credo.
One of my recently discoveries that year also was l discovered l enjoyed a drink or two, a tipple if you wish, and two of my poisons were Archers [Peach Schnapps] and Malibu [Coconut flavoured liqueur made with Caribbean rum] and after l packed up the night of the disco, my boss said l could take a couple of bottles of my favourite home with me, so l chose a bottle each of the two aforementioned.
I left the Centre at around 2.10am Christmas day and got home at around 2.30am, but l was still buzzing with adrenaline from the business of the disco, which was always the way. So instead of doing my usual and going upstairs and listening to music, and risk waking the wrath of my Father and Mother in the bedroom below mine. I opted to stay up and help myself to a liberal measure of one of the bottles l had. I walked into the kitchen grabbed myself a glass and some ice and walked back into the loungeroom and poured myself a small glass of the Malibu, which was gone pretty quickly. I then had a small glass of the Archers which was also gone in smart fashion.
But then l had this brainwave! What if l mixed the two together? So l got a larger glass, more icecubes and then poured myself a remarkably large portion of each into one glass and drank it. Now admittedly it was a strange taste, not totally unpleasant, but something l wouldn’t repeat in a hurry. I drank the whole thing which l guess was around half a pint in about ten minutes and then l was thinking oh, l hic, know what’ll hic do, l’ll go and hic, hic get some more ice and l’ll hic ………….
…….. When l woke up, l could see by the clock that it was around 10am. Prior to waking up, l had been dreaming about a police siren going off in my head, a burning building, emergency services needed and there had been a horrible injury! My brain obviously told me to …..
When l tried to open my eyes, l was experiencing some kind of delay!? They weren’t opening the way they used to, they felt seriously tight?, When l finally managed to open them, it was like my they were pin dots, the siren l thought l was dreaming about was my Sister Jenny in her PJ’s standing in front of me with a cricket bat raised above her head shrieking at the top of her voice!
“Mum, Dad get down here, Rory’s some kind of monster with a head double the size!!”
I was thinking WTF? “Wennee iz meee, woots wong wiff you??” I stopped, l was suddenly alarmed, never mind her, what was wrong with me, more to the point?”
“Woot wah wu dwooin wiff tha baat?” Oh my God l internally shrieked, my voice had disappeared! ! “Waas wwong wiff ma woice?”
My tongue was slack and outside my mouth l could feel nothing inside my mouth and my jaw was slack as well. It felt like everything was swollen up, so l tried to get up and found that whole body felt super heavy, but my head was lolling around like a melon! With me trying to stand up, my Sister wacked my shoulder with the cricket bat and shrieked at the top of her voice, did some strange dance, dropped the bat and ran off out of the living room. Upstairs l could hear a whole lot of trouble pounding down the stairs like baby elephants!
“Wap!! Ma pwarnts war awaaak!” I screamed! “Bwevore mwiddai Dwad wall kwill ma!”
Before l could walk ten paces my parents had run through the door at speed with my Dad holding another cricket bat! What is this thing with bats l was thinking, my shoulder still zinging from the strike by Jenny?
My Mother screamed her lungs out and told my Father to do something, anything, just do something!
“What have you done to yourself Rory? Why do you look that way?” he asked.
“Mwaaht, waat da ya mwean, ma vwoice iz fwunny, ai dwont nose wahy?” I stammered, now thoroughly concerned at the way my parents and my Sister peeking out from behind my Father were looking at me.
My Father put down his bat and gently took me by my shoulder and walked or rather hauled me to the bathroom, amd made me look at myself in the mirror and screamed, well whatever the noise was l did it!
“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! Whah iz’t, wahtz wwong wiff ma?
Well with the four of us in the bathroom with me sreaming and burbling away, my parents were horrified. I looked at my face which was a funny shade of tinted orange and my eyes looked like pisshole piggy eyes in the snow looking out from a massive head on atop of my shoulders! This was seriously bad news indeed, and not the best day off l had imagined.
My Mother forever the hypochondriac was convinced l had come down with a terrible jungle disease, or it was some kind of genetical disorder that had decided now to take effect on me! My father was more logical “It’s a reaction, like a nut allergy maybe, it’s a side effect of something?”
My Sister however having gotten over her shock was her usual sweet self “I don’t know l think it suits him, can he stay that way?” I made a mental note to kill her in the distant future somehow or in the very least get some decent revenge! I was very upset about what she had said and wondered if perhaps l was going to stay like this forever? Had the bloody wind changed or something whilst l was sleeping?
“Wook cawn weh gat ma fwixwed?” I said trying hard not to cry.
“What??” They all asked in unison.
“Fwixwed, fwixwed ….. FWIXWED!!!!”
“I think he is saying can we get him fixed?” My Mother suggested.
I shook my head up and down and realised it was painful as hell to even more my head.
My parents told my Sister to stay in the house, they got dressed bundled me into the car and took me down to the emergency centre in Woking hospital.
I had to endure the stifled laughs of the on duty medical staff and was after several hours informed, once my face had started to lose the swelling,and l went through various blood tests, a skin test and a healthy dose of antihistamines, that l had a very rare and strange reaction to the Malibu and Archers combination, known as a form of ‘sudden alcohol intolerance’, and that l had to avoid those two spirits mixed for the rest of my life! Which l have done, l have never drunk anything that might contain rum, or any other ingredients such as those found in peach schnapps again!
It took two days for my face to get back to its normal size – two whole days. I had to eat everything almost through a straw and had to have my food blended! I decided to NOT have any more Christmas days off after that!
So yes, l remember the 25th December 1984, very well indeed – as a tipple too long! How about you? Any truly memorable Christmas days?