100. Double Drunk Friday

Friday morning.
It is cold, it is dark, the roads are greasy, the fallen leaves clogging the gutter in a rotting sludge.
I’m shivering outside the factory, under the buzzing tangerine glow of the sodium lamps, stood in thick dew sodden grass, plucking up the guts to walk in again, clock in again, jump on the conveyor and go through the same shit routine again.
it’s times like this I wish I smoked.
Tear of the plastic, pop open the carton, tear off that foil and fire up a coffin nail.
just stand there, smoking.
The thing is, if I had just one smoke out there in the dark, just paused long enough to take it down to the filter, I don’t think I’d go into the factory. I’d just turn around and go home, crawl back into bed, lay in the dark with my eyes wide open, smoke on my lips, waiting for the world to come crashing round my ears.
The beginning of the end.
It would be the beginning of the end because I know I wouldn’t go to work again, I just know it. Maybe that’s how a breakdown begins. Maybe that was what leads to shuffling around the house in threadbare y-fronts and an egg stained dressing gown,
using final demands as coasters for cracked mugs of piss-weak tea,
shouting at Ken Bruce’s Pop Master on Radio 2,
wanking mechanically at the sight of Lorraine Kelly on daytime telly, laughing at the tragic stories on the news,
crying at the happy stories on the news,
cowering on the stairs pretending to be out when the window cleaner comes around,
getting the feeling you get on an airplane when you hit turbulence and drop a thousand feet but you’re just sitting still on the sagging couch with cup-a-soup,
staring out of the window wishing a runaway juggernaut would plow across the front garden and smash right into the living room, just to relieve the dread-filled tedium…
No, maybe it was best I didn’t smoke.
I trudge across the grass in sodden shoes, go into the factory.
Loud hissing of compressed air, strip lights, the chung chung chung of perpetual motion machinery churning out endless reams of flimsy personalised crap.
I walk to the scrum of workers surrounding the clock machine, struggle through to peg in.
There is a buzz of barely contained excitement, strangely jarring at such a grim hour, such a grim place.
Peel blunders into me, skipping from foot to foot, tittering like a loon. Peel is six feet six, wild eyed, built like a giant stray labrador, always on the edge of genuine madness. He worked long hours, twelve hour nights and weekends too, shoving palettes of paper around the factory, driving the forklifts like a maniac, striding around looking happily bemused.
“What’s going on, Peel? You lot should be knackered after the week you’ve had. You’ve not had a break in three weeks.”
“I know Luci! That’s why we’re giddy as bastards! no work this weekend, so you know what that means! Double Drunk Friday!”
A small cheer goes up in the mob.
“Double Drunk Friday? What’s that about?”
Peel winked, tapped his nose, grinned a knowing grin, made a clicking noise.
“Ah, Double Drunk Friday is ace! It’s the best! What you do, you go home, get parked on the couch and fire into the piss of your choice. Me, I like sherry, I do. I only drink for an hour though, any more than that and you’re a fucking alky!”
He nodded knowingly before continuing.
“So I fire into the sherry as quick as fuck, get as much as I can down me in an hour. By seven thirty I’ll be arseholed!”
“Sound like heavy going. So what happens when you’re that fucked on a Friday morning? What do you do?”
Peel shrugged.
“Dunno. Watch telly, computer game, have a wank… then I go to bed.”
“Sounds like a riot.”
“Yeah! It’s ace! So I goes to bed, sleep it off, get up in the afternoon, come round a bit, have a bite of summat, then…”
He looked at me with puppy like eagerness, urging me to finish it off for him.
“You get fucked up again?”
“BINGO! Another sherry hour! Double Drunk Friday!”
The bell rings.
A mad scrabble of clock cards and work boots and car keys, then they’re gone.
Gone to get drunk.
I felt like joining them.
Nearly did.
But didn’t.
I went to work.

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