Living in tropical paradise as I do at the moment reminds me of when I spent 6 months living in Greece almost ten years ago. I got a job working as a barman in an Irish cocktail bar on a beautiful Island called Kefalonia.
The sky was blue every day, new women were flown in every week and the drinks flowed like no tomorrow. Life was good.
I whizzed around on my moped and loved life in the little town where I lived.
It was here where I discovered what my life could be like one day if I followed one of the dreams I had of being a heavy drinking artist and womanising raconteur..
I drank cold beer in the afternoon and would have vodka oranges to mix it up. In the evening I would drink Rusty Nails (Scotch and Drambuie) and on my days off I would drink Ursus (sweet red vodka) and Harvey Wallbangers (Vodka and OJ with a shot of yellow Galliano).
I spent some time in the first few weeks painting pictures away in my apartment and getting some nice work done. But when I painted I usually had a drink or two and after a drink or two I would feel like hitting the town.
And a pattern emerged.
And I drove my moped in all states of sobriety. Without a helmet. On the island in Greece with the highest number of motor accidents per capita.
So it came to be a fact with me that there would be skirmishes with the tarmac and related hedges and ditches of the stretch of 2km between the town and my apartment.
I remember one morning I woke up and went out to look for my bike which was not there. I had vague recollections of some kind of accident but couldn’t quite figure out where it had happened. I walked the back roads and lo and behold I found the bike in a ditch. I struggled for a while but managed to get it up and running again.
Another time I was astoshios drunk and took the bike home after a night of heavy drinking. I lost control taking a long left hand turn and remember driving straight into a ditch. Again I managed to get the bike out of the nature but it wasn’t until I went past again the next day that I realised how lucky I had been – I had missed a telegraph pole by a matter of inches. My head would have been split open and my brains would have been an unwelcome addition to the local Greek foliage.
The most outstanding drunken driving though, was the night I thought it would be a great idea to bring a chick I had been kissing in the local disco to a secluded beach for some 3am romance. I have a vague recollection of us driving round some hairy bends before I lost control and we both catapulted off the moped.
By the grace of Allah or Jehovah she landed on top of me and escaped with only a few scratches. I face planted and mashed my shoulder into the ground and fell unconscious. When I came round there was a lot of Greek guys milling around and shouting. A posse of cars were on their own way home and they stopped to help out. These guys wanted to drive me the 30km into the hospital.
I was so drunk I wanted to fight them.
Blood was pumping down my face, I couldn’t move one half of my upper body and I wanted to bash the only people who were likely to be able to help me that night.
In the end the girl convinced me that we could go back to mine and this is where I woke up.
Now, when I woke up I had a momentary lapse in memory.
I opened my eyes and looked down across the bed to see the naked body and long blond hair of the girl who I had brought home. I happened to notice that I was naked myself.
– Ah yes Johnny boy I thought to myself, you did it again.
As my eyes focused I noticed that the bed was covered in blood and as I got up to investigate I couldn’t move my left arm or shoulder. I certainly had done it again.
Before ringing my boss I tried to get into hospital and get something done to let me work, but it was no good. My ligaments were crushed and I had massive internal bruising. Working in a small cocktail bar and only having one hand would prove to be next to impossible.
Somehow though, my boss gave me a chance, let me take a bit of time off and after 2 weeks I was struggling away behind the bar.
The blond haired chick denied any more to do with me and when I saw the local police officer a week after the accident, arm in sling and stiches on face, he shook his head and called me a malaka. He had warned me and my boss about my antics but I didn’t listen.
I never did when the drink took hold.
My boss began to confiscate my keys on my days off and after work too if I didn’t go straight home. I survived the rest of the summer somehow, but there were times when I woke up in ditches myself with no bike.
I honestly remember waking up one morning and touching my pillow to fluff it up only to discover it was a rock and I had slept on the side of a main road where there was no footpath.
Good times indeed.
Sometimes you have to go through a long process of fail, failure and epic fail before you get to grips with yourself. And you may even have to make that mistake again a few times to understand you need a fundamental shift in how you live.
Now I wander through Latin American paradise, taking in every smell, sight and story. I laugh and really experience gritty amazing life and don’t just head to the first bar I see, to taste the latest local brew to be drank.