However you are reading this, there’s a fair chance you’re not firing on all cylinders. What kind of hangover do you have? Like Lucky Jim, has your mouth been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum? Or maybe, like Ned Beauman’s Egon Loeser, you’ve woken with the conviction that somewhere in northern Rhodesia an elephant that got drunk on fermented marula fruit and rampaged through a village is enjoying your hangover, while you endure theirs.
Writers have always been drawn to hangovers because they do so much metaphorical legwork. Even the simplest statements come with a lovely dollop of pathos. They punish excess but we don’t understand them. They get worse as you get older. Every cure is unique and none is reliable.
And like all good poetry, hangovers resist interpretation. Whatever you think you’ve read about congeners and sulphites and wine before beer, it’s all twaddle. If any scientist had come within 10 miles of the secret, they’d be running for election in a plane with their name on the side.
Actually, that’s not true. There are three failsafe cures: swimming in a cold sea, skiing and Having Something Important On, of which the last is by far the most effective. Sadly none of them are available on Deliveroo, so here’s some more practical advice. Typically these pieces come with a warning about excessive drinking and dehydration, but here’s a more dire warning: none of these will cure the angst. Maybe your friends really don’t like you. Maybe you are bad at your job. Things to think about as you stand by the toaster.