When the first thing you see when you open your eyes is the detritus of a London gutter, you know you've had a bad night. Cigarette butts float past, a crushed soda can and a couple of little silver nitrous oxide canisters rocking back and forward with the rainwater gurgling along the gutter. You hear the beep, beep, beep, of the road sweeper approaching before you see it, and suddenly as your neurons make their first connections those orange flashing lights reflecting on the silver canisters make more sense.
When you wake in the gutter of a slick, neon daubed street, the day can only get better, you like to think. You don’t want to admit it, but this is becoming a habit. It always starts with the best of intentions. Just one. Just one for the road. And you end up having many more than one and being more acquainted with the road than you would prefer.
Your name is Peter Wilson and you’re an alcoholic. You’d like to think, a high functioning alcoholic, but the reality you try to deny yourself is that you can’t get much lower functioning. You explore your dry mouth with a sandpaper tongue. You’ve always been careful with your teeth, thankfully they all seem present and correct. No points of order from last night then. You sit up. Rub the back of your neck, massage your chin. You roll into a kneeling position and then somehow stand. You check your pockets, wallet miraculously still present, perhaps you’d collapsed on it, one crushed cigarette in a crumpled packet. You straighten the cigarette, bum a light from the cleaning crew and nick a bottle of milk from a shuttered doorstep for breakfast.
Peter Wilson QC is open for business.