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I fear this is a salutary tale of the perils of the demon drink.

The wrong place is Derry in Northern Ireland. The wrong time is the late 70s/early 80s, when the IRA were busily going round blowing things up, kneecapping villains, and shooting people in the head for no very good reason. Bad times all round.

My mate Cockney Jim had gone to a dance in a Civic Centre or somewhere similar, and he treated himself rather well. So well, in fact , that at chucking out time at about 2:00 in the morning, he was unable to maintain equilibrium, and fell over at the rear of the building. His mates attempted to get him back on his feet, but he’s a big lad, they were drunk too, and Jim didn’t help things at all by falling into the arms of Morpheus and being fast asleep. They covered him with a coat and left him to his own devices.

At about 4:00, Jim was rudely awoken by being repeatedly poked in the side, as if someone was attempting to turn him over. After a bit of ‘What the f***?’, he opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was one of those tracked robots they use for investigating suspected bombs; you know, the ones that look like Number Five out of the film Short Circuit, but Number Five didn’t pack a pump-action shotgun for destroying suspect packages.

Jim sat up a bit, and realised he was being prodded by a man in full bomb-disposal body armour, equipped with a long carbon fibre pole. The whole area was cordoned off, masses of flashing lights. Loads of military and police vehicles, and a lot of weaponry, all pointed at him, a suspected booby-trapped corpse. When it was clear he wasn’t going to explode, armed police came and surrounded him, got him to his feet, and stuck him in an ambulance which took him to hospital for an unwelcome saltwater emetic to get the residual alcohol out of his stomach.

He finally got home at about 7:00, to find his dad frantic with worry.

‘Where the hell have you been? I’ve been worried sick. Why didn’t you call? There was a bomb scare where you were last night!’

‘Aye, I know….’