I moved into a place which I (or someone along the way) dubbed ‘Castle Aspenlea’. There were five of us there, with various other hangers-on, dossers, dodgies, friends, losers, freaks, units from all over the place lobbing in from time to time. A fairly typical antipodean sharehouse, the Castle was the temporal junction point (of the entire space-time continuum – just wanted to use that line!)… no it was a London sharehouse dream – we should have had a camera installed, would have made an awesome reality tv show.
One Saturday morning I got up about 11am to find Rattlesnake still drunk from the night before. He clearly hadn’t been to bed yet, and wasn’t planning on it for a while, as he sat muttering and drinking a Fosters on the couch. A tall, lanky, messy haired, Aussie, Rattle was the quintessential occa bloke. His drunken, drug-fuelled ramblings were some of the most priceless speeches ever uttered in the history of antipodean dodginess in London. I hung out with him in our converted kitchen/lounge while I had a cup of coffee – perfect comedy entertainment to start the weekend, and I was feeling fairly good myself, not having gone out the night before. It was a fairly normal occurrence, for Rattle to still be up after a big night, but by this point he was usually on the downward turn to crashing out for a few hours before doing it all again on the Saturday night. Today he was clearly going for a record.
I popped out to Sainsbury’s for some breakfast items, probably for about 20 minutes at most, and when I came back through our front door, there was a nasty surprise just in front of the doorstep. On the tiled area leading to the street pavement was a significantly large pile of regurgitated beer. I side-stepped the revolting deposit and yelled out, ‘Rattle, did you throw up out the front?’ as I came through the front door. The man was adamant that it had nothing to do with him, when it was clear it was his. He claimed initially that he’d never vomit, it wasn’t his style, that he was a hard arse, a ‘unit’. I hadn’t heard that term until I moved to London – coming from Canberra I don’t think I was a very typical Aussie, and a lot of these types of expressions were foreign to me.
Anyway, so finally, Rattle said, ‘well there’s nothing wrong with throwing up, everyone’s done it. You wouldn’t admit it but you’ve done it.’ I laughed because I’m famous for being sick from drinking too much. But he wouldn’t let it go, obviously feeling a bit stupid for being sick. Eventually, Siggy, our token South African flatmate, came downstairs and I told her about the vomit. ‘Rattle!’ she shouted, half laughing, half revolted. Then her boyfriend Jim came down and saw the vomit too; he promptly retreated back upstairs in disgust.
By this point, Rattle started to feel a bit guilty – ‘you can’t just leave it there, someone will step in it, it’s gross!’ I said. So as I cooked my breakfast, he sat quietly sipping his beer on the couch, then stumbled out the back for a cigarette. ‘I feel bad,’ he said, when he came back inside. He did his ‘hovering’ act, when he’d elect to lean precariously against the kitchen bench, can in hand, and I’d almost hold my breath looking at him, thinking he could drop the can or keel over at any moment. Dear Rattle, I thought, he has a good heart, despite his drunken rampages and being a general menace to society more often than not. ‘Just get the bucket and wash it away with water,’ I suggested.
So next thing I knew, he was stumbling up the hall with our handle-less bucket, full of water. I couldn’t miss this moment of comedy gold, but I didn’t want to distract him from cleaning up – the only time we ever saw Rattle clean was when he couldn’t get to sleep on a Sunday after 12 hours of coke the night before! I crept after him down the hallway and ducked into my room, which was right at the front of the house, used to be the lounge. I didn’t dare lift the wooden blind on the bay window, so I stood and listened to the water sloshing across the tiles, washing the offending material into the gutter. Suddenly, I heard Rattle’s voice over the trickle of water. ‘Hey ladies. Just doing some cleaning. Someone vomited in front of my house.’ I laughed out loud as I heard the poor innocent girls walking past giggle and groan in disgust. ‘Ewww!’ Rattle, true gentleman that he is, gave us yet another priceless moment. ‘So,’ he said to the girls, ‘you ladies fancy coming in for a drink?’ I burst out laughing and ran back to the lounge to relay the turn of events to Siggy.
‘All sorted,’ said Rattle, wandering back into the lounge. He gave us his signature smirk-cross-intoxicating smile, realising I’d told Siggy about his pickup attempt whilst simultaneously cleaning up his own vomit. ‘Yeah,’ he said, taking another sip of beer and sending the empty bucket flying across the kitchen floor – almost outside. ‘They were keen, you know.’ We fell about laughing, it was pure gold!