Frequent traveller: The morning after
In which our correspondent tries ever more desperate measures to rid himself of his hangover.
You’d think that by my age, I would have managed to master the art of drinking. And I don’t mean being able to select a good wine from a menu an inch thick, or just the right cocktail for the time and occasion – which I am certainly competent at – but avoiding the after-effects of too much booze.
I recall a time in my youth when I didn’t even know what it meant to have a hangover, so efficient was my liver, but these days even a few glasses leave me feeling a little shabby the next morning.
Unfortunately, the problem has only been exacerbated by my lifestyle – endless client dinners in foreign cities with people who are either keen to impress me, or I, them, resulting in endless rounds of vodka, whisky, sake, champagne or whatever the tipple of choice happens to be that night. And because it would be rude to say no, I often end up raiding my minibar for Pringles late at night, falling asleep fully clothed, waking up with a pounding headache or getting myself into situations that would be just too embarrassing to disclose (a rarity these days, I assure you).
So what’s the answer? My wife swears by Hula Hoops and Ribena, something she hasn’t grown out of since her first can of cider at boarding school, while my colleagues’ go-to cures range from “serious carbs” and orange juice to effervescent multi-vitamins, full-fat Coke, McDonald’s, a cold swim or simply a couple of cups of strong black coffee and a bacon sandwich. Then there’s Nigel, who I can always tell has been on the sauce the night before because he sits at his desk eating Smarties. No wonder he hasn’t got a girlfriend.
If I could, I’d opt for a good cup of English breakfast tea and a fry-up – it always does the trick. But I can’t justify the calorie intake anymore, and even if I have time to pay a visit to the hotel breakfast buffet, I am often greeted with far less appetising options – slimy congee being the worst, on my trips to Asia.
In the spirit of adventure, and sometimes desperation, I have acted on local advice. After a 9am meeting in Hamburg, at which I must have looked particularly rough around the edges, I was taken by an associate for pickled herring. I can’t say I managed to eat the slippery fish blanket wrapped around scraps of onion and gherkin with as much gusto as Gerhard, but I managed to get it down without it coming back up. That said, my nausea did cling on for the rest of the day.
After a heavy night in Chicago, I accepted the recommendation of my American counterparts and ordered a prairie oyster from room service the following morning. It looked revolting, the yellow egg yolk floating in a pool of brown Worcestershire sauce mixed with tomato puree. Needless to say, as the liquid-filled membrane flooded into my mouth, it was all I could do not to run to the bathroom to throw up.
The sour-pickle-juice experience in Warsaw was worse, though – whoever believes fishy vegetable vinegar can stop you wanting to heave must be bonkers. And as for the Romanians, I hear they like to prescribe root vegetable soup with slices of cow’s stomach, but thankfully business hasn’t taken me to Bucharest yet.
Hair of the dog is not generally advised unless it is the weekend, when a spicy Bloody Mary or cold beer (a favourite in Holland) can work wonders. But I have also known people to whip out a hip flask, claiming a little bit of what they were consuming the night before does the job. Others have gone for more hedonistic antidotes, such as a cocktail of gin and brandy in equal parts, topped up with ginger ale and a dash of fresh lime juice.
Still, that’s nothing compared with the remedy advocated by my favourite anti-hero, Hunter S Thompson. After a particularly wild night, he’d start the day (probably at about 3pm) with “12 amyl nitrates in conjunction with as many beers as necessary”. But then, he didn’t have hands to shake, presentations to make and flights to catch.
Happily, I may finally have discovered the solution – mobile unit Hangover Heaven will pull up and treat you to a full-body flush through an IV in your arm, leaving you feeling shiny and new in 45 minutes. The downside is, the bus only drives up and down the Las Vegas Strip – talk about putting temptation in your path.
With that in mind, I have decided to take my wife’s advice and cut back on the units – an especially good idea given my next trip is to Mongolia, where they recommend pickled sheep’s eyes in tomato juice the morning after. G&T, anyone?
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