I should have seen the warning signs when Shezza got out the Tesco's Value Gin at 5.30 in the afternoon.
Shezza is a bad influence. One of the last times we got together we ended up drinking the best part of a box of wine and for some reason best known to my drunken brain, I ended up weeping over the kitchen table. The following day, we drove to Crawley. Shez - eyes like pinpricks - had to sit in the back with her 11-year-old daughter illegally on her lap, groaning loudly and threatening to hurl at every roundabout.
'It may be cheap, but it makes me happy!' said Shez brightly, pouring a monster load of gin into several tall glasses. It was drinkable - the tonic probably took some of the edge off it - and by the fourth swig it tasted as good as a Gordons.
Like old pros we eased naturally onto the white wine. Just as the words were beginning to slur and stories were starting to be repeated, dinner of ham, potatoes, peas and parsley sauce came to forestall our descent.
Sparkling wine and toffee cake followed (in deference to my impending birthday) and we were all feeling warm and fuzzy when Shez had the hairbrained idea of 'strolling' down to the beach.
The rain was lashing down hard and in regular gusts. "Come on! This is fun isn't it? I love the sea. Can never be far from it," enthused Shez. Unable to resist in any coherent way, we followed like lambs. Half an hour later we got back to the house, soaked down to our knickers.
That's when we could - should - have stopped, but invigorated by our 'stroll' , Shez opened another bottle of wine. We sat as Shez told of her life and loves, munching through a giant packet of Walkers. At some unspecified time later, I managed to stumble up to bed, just about in control of myself, but Shezza was weaving all over the kitchen.
I got up twice in the night for some water - brain lurching at every turn, head hammering with the mother of all headaches. Unable to get back to sleep, I lay awake, longingly visualising ice cold flannels and huge lozenges of paracetamol. About 7am I resolved to get up and find some. The bathroom had no medical stuff in it at all, but a desperate search through the kitchen cupboards brought success. All that activity proved too much for my poisoned system and barely minutes after downing the painkillers I was bent over the kitchen sink, wretching them all back up again.
Shezza woke up to find herself sprawled over the living room floor, phone off the hook and her address book open at her ex-boyfriend's number. She had no recollection of anything after the packet of crisps.
I've made a resolution. Next time we meet, I'm not going to get drunk. But as I said, she's a bad influence.