Thursday, 11 August 2011

How Many Excuses Am I Going To Find To Excuse My Behaviour.

If the truth be told I was a wayward youth. I suppose it was partly down to my dysfunctional childhood. Isn't that the usual excuse. But it was also down to the fact that I drank too much alcohol, which I could not hold. Another major factor was that the alcohol turned me into an argumentative, loud mouthed, arsy little b*****d. Yes that'll do for an excuse too, the alcohol.
It was on a visit to my mothers 'friend' Fergie when I was probably fourteen years old, that I took my first drink of whisky. I recall the experience as fiery, and that it burned my throat. The glowing after effect however, was very pleasant indeed. I don't think I realised then that if I continued to drink, the glow would become drunkenness. But I quickly discovered that was the case. It was Fergies fault. That's my excuse.
I enjoyed being drunk. Or perhaps I ought to say, I enjoyed the lack of responsibility that being drunk gave me. Hell, you can act like a complete idiot when you are drunk. It doesn't matter. You can do what you like when you are drunk. You are invincible.
Craiginches prison. Aberdeen.
When the drink wears off. Then comes the day of reckoning. It's payback. If you are not in police custody, you soon will be. But that's alright. When they let you out, which they always do. You can get drunk again. What do you care? Why should you care? Nobody else does. Another usual excuse. So the downward spiral begins to gather pace.
When my stepfather Jimmy died from cancer in 1964 it hit me badly. I don't know why. I wasn't aware that he was that important to me. We had our ups and downs him and I. Mostly downs, I thought. Perhaps, and I am only surmising here, I saw his death as one more giant disappointment on the road to normality. Mum would have to leave the house, she had tried to make a home. Another safe haven gone for me. Or maybe he was more of a father figure to me than I realised. Whatever was going on in my head, and to this day I don't know the answer, I was terribly sad and upset, that he was no longer there. That's my excuse for what happened next.
A few days after the funeral, I found a bottle of whisky in the sideboard. I drank a lot of it. I got very drunk. I got loud mouthed, arsy little b*****d drunk. I upset a lot of people. The police were upset too. They arrested me. The procurator fiscal was upset. He told the Sheriff that I had been given enough chances. The Sheriff agreed with him and remanded me in custody. So unfair! After all, the thing is, I was drunk. That's my excuse.
Craiginches prison, Aberdeen, was a dark dismal and frightening place. I was not so tough now, but these convicts around me were. Seven days I spent in that place on remand. Seven days of worrying that I might be sentenced to a longer term there. Seven days of praying to God that He would make the Sheriff treat me leniently. Amazing how religious I would become in times of trouble. Seven days of feeling sorry for myself. Seven days thinking of excuses.
My sentence was a years probation. My probation officer was a really, genuinely nice man. Tough when necessary, but also fair. I don't think he saw me as a criminal, more as a youngster with a troubled mind. We talked a lot and I used to actually look forward to seeing him. I even spent time with him and his family. I was lucky to have him as my probation officer. I was getting on to the straight and narrow. But I was no paragon of virtue.
There were still a few lapses to come from me. Even, I'm sad to say, more prison time. Always the drink was involved. Another excuse. Crikey, I must have been a slow learner! Either that or incredibly stubborn. I was not unintelligent, but it did take me a long time to cotton on to the fact, that nobody was forcing me to get drunk. That's my excuse.


  1. So it wasn't a 'slap on the wrist' then, John.
    Tell me...why are cells always painted yellow?
    Yes the 'grog' can make you feel ten feet tall and bullet proof. Been there and done that. You're not alone, that's for sure. Maa

  2. I think we all make excuses for the things we do, the good and the bad.

  3. I love that title....Procurator saying the word, but a little difficult to drop into ordinary conversation!
    Jane x

  4. I've heard a few people refer to their PO as a father/mother figure. I thought then that it was a sorry state of affairs but maybe it wasn't. Maybe the PO filled a role that needed filling. Have a brilliant weekend.

  5. We all get our crosses to bear. Some small so large and all encompassing. Life a roller coaster ride. Hang on! Love that last line.

  6. It's not called the Demon Drink for nothing I suppose. You seem to have come through your roller coaster ride with a lot of wisdom John.

  7. When my ex husband was arrested for DUI he had a probation officer that was, according to him, a real jerk. I figured it was just the fact that he was too accustomed to dealing with likes of my ex. Alcohol can make a person do crazy things that's for sure