It'd be the mid 1980's and my mate Paul had been divorced. He'd taken up with a new girlfriend although, since he was in his thirties and she was eighteen, I thought he was being a bit optimistic. I'll tell you what though, she was as fit as a butchers dog. Just imagine a rather short and slightly chubby faced Sigourney Weaver with 'come hither' eyes and you'll get the idea.

The two of them moved into an apartment block in a really unsalubrious part of town. Even the police wouldn't patrol there. Paul Mk.2, who I shall in future refer to as Crazypaul and I used to nip over on Friday nights for a few drinks and to drool at Cathy the new girlfriend. A couple of bus rides, a half mile walk while dodging the was worth it.

So, one Friday night the four of us are sitting on his living room floor having a drink. Paul is notoriously tight fisted and the only furniture he'd bought so far was a bed. Cathy goes off to the bathroom and we cracked a few more cans. After about five minutes she's not come back so Paul goes to look for her. After a bit he comes back dragging an unconcious Cathy. She'd overdosed on some pills she'd found in the bathroom. I've no idea why and I never asked. None of my business as far as I'm concerned.

I listened to her chest and her heart was beating but she wasn't breathing. I blew into her mouth while Paul rang for an ambulance. Crazypaul dithered around in the backgound. I forgot to hold her nostrils at first so when I blew into her mouth I just got my own breath back on my cheek. She wasn't exhaling either so I had to alternate breathing with chest pushing. This was hard work and not as much fun as it sounds.

The ambulance arrived but they wouldn't come up to the flat until the police escort arrived. Paul went down to escort them instead. A few weeks before three blokes had tried to mug him. After he'd thrown one of them through a shop window and hospitalised another people had learned to leave him alone. The ambulancemen took Cathy away and we went back to our beer.

A month or so later the four of us were in a pub just north of the river and Cathy went off to the bathroom again. Paul went away to look for her and she'd wandered off. Had she gone to throw herself in the river? We didn't have a clue. We split up to search for her. I trotted off down a little slopey cobbled allyway, turned the corner and tripped over a block of stone that'd been left there. Since I had my hands in my pockets I hit the ground with my head.

When I woke up they were loading me into an ambulance. "Am I dying? " I asked them (I always asked them that). They told me that I'd be fine. The 'hee haw whoo whoo whoo' sounds of the ambulance weren't that reassuring though.

I woke up (again) in casualty. Some doctor was listening to my chest with his guessing tube and told me that I smoked too much. As far as I can tell he didn't bother to look at my head. I decided to sign myself out.

It was around midnight by now, I didn't have any money and it was a ten mile walk back home. Across the road was a pub though and I could see a light flickering through the windows. I began beating on the door and the landlord let me in.

Inside were the two Pauls' and Cathy. They were having a stay behind. "We knew that when you came out you'd head for the nearest pub so we waited for you." they told me "Have a pint. In fact have a brandy." What are friends for eh?