It may not have been 5am in the cold water of the Inner Hebrides, but in the Jack Daniels haze of my mind it could well have been any time and any place. As I stepped outside and heard the soothing sound of birdsong – I wasn’t sure if they were singing for the joy of it or out of some mocking of my bedraggled hungover state, but it didn’t seem to matter – and felt the gentle tickling of a cool June breeze behind my ear, I felt alive. Which was significantly better than I was feeling hours earlier.
Like any other Saturday morning my eyes creaked open to meet the realisation that not only was I horifically hungover again, but I had arrived home in the small hours of the morning and fallen asleep whilst browsing Netflix, thereby ‘watching’ half a season of How I Met Your Mother. I sat up in my bed and began to consider why my socks were strewn at opposite ends of my room, when I concluded that there has to be more to a Saturday than this weary routine. The football season has reached an end until it begins all over again in August, and I needed something to occupy myself in my flailing jelly like state, so I decided that I would take a refreshing walk.
With my earphones in (the first track to shuffle on my Spotify playlist was Highway to Hell by AC/DC, though as the day would progress it would be Thunderstruck that would seem more appropriate) and a satchel sinking across my shoulder – it would only make sense to feed two birds with one scone and do some shopping while I was out – I embarked on my journey to reacquaint myself with the world around me.
It was a different experience using walking as a means to observe the things I usually ignore when I am sober: greenery, wildlife, people. Typically I walk with the purpose of getting somewhere I need to be, but with nowhere to go today I revelled in the freedom of walking without aim – like the terribly inaccurate marksman.
The sky was a noticeably strange patchwork of colours. In parts the sun was making a bold attempt to break through the clouds and illuminate all the hidden treasures along my walk. Much of the sky gave the appearance of a canopy that had been smeared with crushed blueberries before a crude and unsuccessful attempt to clean it up with a dirty dish towel had been made. Elsewhere it vaguely resembled a measure of gin which had been mixed with cloudy lemonade, though in my hungover state I refused to acknowledge that image or even contemplate why anyone would mix gin with cloudy lemonade.
It wouldn’t be long before those swollen grey clouds declared their triumph over the sun’s vain efforts with the release of a series of trickling raindrops, washing over my face like nature’s shower. A battalion of umbrellas went up around me – my worst nightmare – and I immediately lamented my poor choice of jacket. Still, I stood and watched the ships in the harbour as the rain become more incessant, sprinkling the silver sea with shards of yet more silver. If I felt alive earlier then this was the moment that I knew I was alive, with the cool rain on my face and my lungs inhaling and exhaling as they do for any person who is living.
Once I had remembered that I was alive I continued my journey. I frequently stopped by the roadside to admire the luminous daffodils which were nestled amongst discarded cans of cider; truly nature’s wonder!
Further along I came across a clutch of beautiful roses which had evidently proved as enticing to a number of bees as it had me. I pulled out my earphones and listened to them buzz around these sweet pink flowers. It was a sight to behold, and one I wanted to capture. So I withdrew my phone from my pocket, leaned a little closer to the buoyant winged creatures and took a photograph.
For a moment my hangover had vanished from my mind. I positioned my phone to take another picture. Then I vomited all over the flowers in a vicious release of last night’s excesses. It was then, for the first time in my life, that I was truly and intimately at one with nature.