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Oblivion in Recession

By: Carl Halling

Page 1, One man's redemption in the early 1990s.


The following piece has its origins in rambling notes I made towards the end of January 1993, and which referred to incidents which began on the 16th of that month and lasted for several days, coming in the wake of a peripatetic week of near-constant intoxication, during which I nonetheless managed to work and socialise in some measure. I believe with all my heart that it is a faithful account of the incidents in question, already touched on in the coda of the preceding piece, accidental inaccuracies notwithstanding.
When I set about preparing it for the eyes of the world through a process of aestheticization and versification, the punctuation was significantly altered, with commas inserted in the place of semi-colons and so on. It was also heavily edited, with words, indeed whole passages ommitted from the original draft, and other sections removed and then reinserted in areas of the script where I felt they better belonged.
The piece was published in rudimentary form at the website on the, while its definitive version was prepared in August 2007.

Collapse in an Indian Restaurant

"The peripatetic week of near-constant intoxication" referred to in the introduction had itself been ushered in by a late-night collapse on my part in an Indian restaurant in an outer suburb of south west London, the consequence of many days of nonstop drinking. I'd been contentedly dining with two female companions when I suddenly felt like pure death. I'd then asked one of my friends whether I looked as bad as I felt. Once she'd replied in the affirmative, I got up from the table, walked a few paces headed for who knows where before collapsing as if stone dead onto the restaurant floor. I was taken outside into the fresh Surrey air by two or three Indian waiters. One of them then set about attempting to shock some life back into my prone body by repeatedly flicking ice cold water in my face, while urging me not to give up or something of that sort. This presumably because in the first instance I'd been relatively unresponsive to his efforts. Finally I made a miraculous recovery and was driven home by one of my dining companions.

Within a couple of days, my drinking had resumed its inexorable course towards disaster, ultimately leading to the events depicted in "Oblivion in Recession". They marked the end of a period in my existence marked by a furious thirst for intoxicating liquor, which could have despatched me to oblivion at any time. The Bible makes it manifestly clear that a confirmed drunkard can go to sleep on any night of any day of any week, and never awake again in this world. But thanks to God, these same incidents were sufficiently terrifying to me that I felt compelled to reach out to Him to help me through them. At some stage as I recall I made a promise to the Lord that if He allowed me to survive them I would belong to Him forever. There have, however, been several relapses of drinking since 93, in the shape of short-lived binges, and a single period of several weeks during which I unsuccessfully attempted a full-blooded return to my old ways. Ultimately, I became unable to drink even a single glass of wine without feeling extremely ill. Thence, as things stand, I am a hundred per cent sober.
Coming to a state of teetotalism has not been easy for me, any more than has my walk with God in general, and I have had to pay for the way I behaved prior to becoming a Christian, and in a variety of ways I intend to write about but not during this piece. God saved my soul, and the sufferings I have undergone since coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are as nothing compared to what would have awaited me had I perished on one or other of the days during which the action of "Oblivion in Recession" takes place...and of which I had a distinct intimation if I'm not mistaken. It is a fate that I would not wish on anyone, no, not a single soul.

Oblivion in Recession

The legs started going,
In my head.
Thought I'd go
Kept awake with water,
Arrogantly telling myself
I'd stay straight.
Drank gin and wine,
Went out,
Tried to buy more,
Filthy white shorts,
Lost, rolling on lawn,
Somehow got home.
Monday, waiting for offie,
Looked like death,
Fear in eyes
Of passers-by,
Waiting for drink,
Drink relieved me.
Drank all day,
"Don't Die on Me".
Next day,
Double brandy
Just about settled me,
Drank some more,
Thought constantly
I'd collapse
Then what?
Fit? Coronary?
Insanity? Worse?
Took a
Paced the house
All night,
Pain in chest,
Weak legs,
Lack of feeling
In extremities,
Visions of darkness.
Drank water
To keep the
life functions going
Played devotional music,
Dedicated my life
To God,
Prayed constantly,
Renounced evil.
Next day,
Two valiums
Helped me sleep.
By eve,
I started to feel better.
All is clearer,
Taste, sounds,
I feel human again.
I made my choice,
And oblivion has receded,
And shall disappear...

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