When the Cute Hoor party finally drives you to drink, there are plenty of ways to describe the state you’re in. It’s hardly surprising that a country renowned for its great drinkers as well as for the richness of its language should have a wealth of expressions for drinking and being drunk.
Mangled, rat-arsed, cabbaged, hammered, ruined, scorched or trolleyed – and the rest. The list is pretty long. Different counties have their own expressions. In Waterford, where I was born, you’re in the horrors, in Kerry you’re flaming, in Donegal steaming and in Limerick, you’re said to be out of your tree. There are, of course, degrees of drunkenness with corresponding attitudes to match. Someone who’s rubbered or flutered may be quite a jolly drunk although talking utter shite. If you’re slaughtered you’ll be pretty much in bits, but still more or less coherent. On the other hand, if you’re ossified you’re likely to pick a fight. Twisted is when you’re off your head and need help getting home. Poteen, home made potato spirit, will make you first polluted, then petrified and finally paralytic.
Many of these expressions have crept, or maybe I should say staggered, into everyday use in England and America. Others are still found mostly among the Irish. Locked is one of my favourites. Stocious is another great word, which I heard a lot when I was a kid though I’ve been unable to trace its origins. Perhaps the best of all is ‘circling over Shannon’, derived from the visit of Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s president, to Ireland when he was apparently too drunk to get off the plane. As his aides desperately tried to sober him up, the plane circled six times over Shannon airport before landing briefly, though Yeltsin never made it off the plane. Ultimately pleading ill health, he might well have admitted to being ‘melted’ – in other words very tired. Which is what you get when you have, as they say, ‘had the drink taken.’