The night before the book awards in 2013 I got drunk. Proper drunk. But with a purpose. I figured if I had a stinging hangover on game day, the chances of me drinking early were diminished and therefore I might make it through things without too much fuss. Fuss being something that often accompanies my drinking.
For reasons I can only ascribe to vanity, I had made an appointment at Manscape to trim what had become a runaway red beard. I’d never before been to a grooming joint, so how was I to know the friendly bastards would offer me a Heineken at 10.30 in the morning? Don’t mind if I do. What would you like done, sir? Whatever you like. Do you have another one of these?
I was seated next to a famous New Zealand cricketer. We gossiped. Anyway, there was a little drinking at the airport, a little more on arrival, I knocked back half a dozen in my publisher’s office, then I headed to a strip joint a mate owned. It was still the afternoon. My cunning plan was unravelling.
With a handful of close friends, each insane in their own right, I entered the venue. Photographs needed to be taken. I scowled and asked for more wine (beer being a breakfast drink). I met Steve Braunias, my competition for best non-fiction book and we reminisced about how he had tweeted that my book was near unreadable. What a wanker, I thought. I could really warm to this bastard.
I was smoking outside, when a harried producer suggested I make my way back. In a second, I’ll just finish this. She looked at me like the wanker I was and said you need to come now. I knew the tone; my mother used it all the time.
So there I was receiving the People’s Choice award. In a completely off-the-cuff speech that I had rehearsed in the shower at least 20 times before, I suggested Annabel Langbein was my nemesis, ad-libbing to say she was very cute. I heard later that a couple of people thought that was sexist. How much angrier they would have been if they knew I also had been to Manscape to conform to dominant ideas of beauty.
Braunias, that likeable and talented wanker won best non-fiction. I did what I would have done if I’d won and downed whatever alcohol was in sight. Unsatisfied, I awoke the next morning and started again. Missing the winners’ event and angering my publicist. I turned off my phone and really went to work; exactly what that entails is unclear. The next day on the North Shore with a dry mouth and little memory I asked a woman in the house what was happening. She was a cleaner, and could offer no clues. At that point I did the only thing that seemed sensible. I bought two bottles of Moet and a packet a Poppa Jacks. Nothing could settle my nerves and confusion like a champagne buzz.
It occurred to me I no longer had my laptop, my suitcase, or my winner’s cheque. But there were trifling curiosities made clear when I finally turned my phone on. It was now day three.
The tone of all callers started causally but ended frenetically. Among them was my publicist and publisher, of course, but also the police, my lawyer and the Hells Angels. It seems that on leaving the latter’s clubhouse I had left my possessions in a cab, the police were alerted…yada yada. A member of the Angels had called my lawyer and asked as to my whereabouts because the cops were calling. The Angel knew if I was up to mischief, my lawyer was never far behind.
You all right, he asked. Yeah, bro, fine. What day is it? I need to get the airport.
And so I found myself back in Christchurch, home but extremely fearful of reality. The comedown from this particular mission would jar like careering head-on into a parked car. Memories would surface, apologies would be needed. I instructed the cabbie to swing by a journalist’s house who I’d met during publicity for the book. I stopped off and got two bottles of Moet and a packet of Poppa Jacks. She’s now my girlfriend. It was perhaps my greatest non-fiction prize.
These experiences should not be lost to the world. Sponsors please step forward.
I nominate Moet and Poppa Jacks.