Cell Block Dad

Day 257: One of the biggest embarrassments during my 17 years of drinking was the night I was arrested and spent the night in the cells. Take alcohol out of the equation and I was a soft natured, passive, law abiding peace keeper. Alcohol would change that. I could be selfish, cocky, arrogant, aggressive and very stupid.

I’d had a pretty rough week working away in the South of England. I’d been on my own in the main stuck in a hotel – tensions had been building in work with a few colleagues and generally I was in a low place anyways. When flying back home on the Thursday evening my flight ended up delayed about 5 hours and we were in the smallest airport in England with nothing to do! I had a lot of alcohol.

That Friday afternoon I went out to Newcastle with my Dad and good mate Jonny for drinks, food and then to watch the punk rock band ‘The Damned’ (still touring despite their more tender age). It should have been an opportunity to unwind and forget about my rubbish week but as we know, alcohol has a habit of hindering not helping the situation. We had a good drink and I remember my Dad buying a few rounds of Jäeger Bombs at the pub across the road from the music venue. My Dad’s answer to feeling down has always been ‘to have a drink’ and this night was no different.

The Damned – Still touring in 2021!

So the gig went well. My Dad stopped boozing and headed off into the mosh pit. Me and Jonny held back and enjoyed the flat, expensive beer in our plastic cups. I was feeling more chilled and care-free thanks to a combination of Guinness, Red stripe, Estrella, Heineken and Jäegermeister. The undertones of punk rock in my ears kept the edge in me though.

I don’t remember exactly how the next stage of the night came about but after the gig we were outside on the street where me and my Dad lost my mate. I then started saying to my father that he didn’t love me as much as my younger brother (cringe) and naturally I upset my alcohol infused Dad. We then started walking towards a taxi rank where I got into a verbal exchange with a group of lads. I have absolutely no idea why it happened but everything pointed back to me as the protagonist. A passing police patrol car saw me shouting and gesturing so slowed down and casually asked me to “shut it” and go home. According to the subsequent police report I was handed the next day I took exception to the authorities telling me to keep the peace and after squaring up to the officers who got out of their vehicle I ended up on the floor in a grapple, handcuffed and in the back of a van to the cells. My poor Dad was helpless. It all happened so quickly and before he knew it he saw his oldest son who had just been very emotional and awful to him try and take on the World and lose. My Dad, unfamiliar with the City centre we were in had to call my Mam to find out how to get home (and break the news to her).

I don’t remember a great deal about the arrest. I remember being in the back of the van and being walked into the cell whilst continuing to argue my innocence to the arresting officer.

I remember pacing the cell, head butting the wall several times and punching the floor again and again. I was suffering with regular deep bouts of depression at the time and my anger issues were at a high level that week anyways. Throw in the excessive drinking and this was the scary result. It felt like I was in that cell for days when in reality it was only about 8-9 hours. The anger subsided, tiredness took over and I spent the last few hours lying on the thinnest mattress on Earth (pretty sure my yoga mat is thicker) whilst trying to sober up.

The police on shift the next morning were good to me. They acknowledged I was just under stress, pissed and this was out of character. They see it often. They didn’t see the point in dragging it out any longer and I remember one policeman saying the wrath of my wife when I got home would trump anything they could say or do! I went through the humiliation of providing DNA and finger prints for filing (I wasn’t on their records until this point) and spoke to a legal counsel on the phone who advised me to agree to the charge and take what they offered in terms of ‘punishment’ to avoid court. I followed that advise without any hesitation whether I felt I deserved to be locked up or not (at the time I still had a deluded view that the police were a bit too quick to arrest me).

I was given the option of waiving a fine for being drunk and disorderly in a public place if I was prepared to attend an alcohol / anger management course and pay for this instead. I was told that if I completed this course the charge would be suspended as ‘No Further Action’ and would drop off my record within three years. I accepted, collected my belongings and sheepishly left the police station with one’s tail between his legs and a bad head.

The fall out that followed was long lasting. It was another dent in the marriage, I felt disgusting coming home the next morning at 10am still stinking in last night’s clothes and with a very sore head. I attended the course a few weeks later (another embarrassment was telling work about it and the need to take a day of leave to attend this 5 hour ‘lesson’ or ‘re-education’. I felt so little to be on this course as I sat next to the stereotypical attendees who were out on bail, repeat trouble makers, students and the odd hard guy. My arrogance still existed and I considered myself above these people and I didn’t need the course. As a Training Specialist at the time for my employer I was also judgemental of the facilitation style of those running the session. I left the course feeling low, pissed off and alone. I went straight to a pub in the city centre and had several pints before getting the train back to my home town. So there I was, fresh out of a course that was meant to change my mindset about using alcohol especially in response to my mood and I was drinking 5% pilsners at 2pm on a Thursday on my own.

Whilst I was never arrested again following that incident – and don’t plan on spending time in a cell again, that wasn’t my last experience with police officers whilst off my head. Previous posts about my time in hospital will tell you more in that respect but I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that at the time of my arrest and subsequent punishment I wasn’t bought into changing and didn’t change. It ticked a box for both me and the police and I continued to be destructive to myself and others.

Not everybody who drinks alcohol to self medicate will end up at the extremes I did. In fact most people won’t. Hangovers, regrets and depression in small doses might be the pinnacle. I know that those things are just the start for me. That’s why I won’t drink another drop in my life if I can help it.

Author: Happy Daddy

A married thirtysomething Dad of two young daughters navigating my way through life a day at a time

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