More animals for you. This time, dolphins - fitting, considering my American Football allegiance. My modest contribution to the flood of Hurricane Katrina stories. Short and sweet, quick and easy.

And fluffy is not the sum total of what I do, honest, however much that might appear to be the case. My other, bigger contributions to the newsroom's effort are just less tangible.

One of these days I promise to share something people don't automatically want to cuddle...


Who needs football?

Kylie, Skippy, Rolf Harris, Chopper Read, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Mick Dundee, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Rupert Murdoch, Donald Bradman, Harry Kewell, Olivia Newton John, Harold Bishop... your boys took one hell of a beating, I said your boys one hell of a beating.

(With thanks to a certain Norwegian football commentator.)


It's not big and it's not clever

It struck me last night that I've not had a hangover in more than a year. This has been through choice, admittedly, but for someone who used to suffer quite badly on more than a strictly healthy regular basis, it's still quite a lifestyle change.

So in honour of the headaches and DTs that I've consigned to the past, and in no particular order, here are my top five most memorable hangovers:

Warning: graphic description of shameful drunkenness and bodily functions follows.

Yorkshire/Manchester, January 1995
It had been Thomas' last night in the family home before he and Lizzie were due to set off for six months in Tanzania. The two of us decided to mark the occasion - a school night - with beers and vodka depth charges. It got messy, natch. And unsurprisingly I didn't feel much like work the next day. But I managed to make the hour or so's journey from home to the office - just about five hours late. Finally rocking up at New Broadcasting House in Manchester at about 2pm, I slumped in my corner for a couple of hours before excusing myself, blaming a bug or something. But these were hard-bitten and sozzled media people I was working with - I'm fairly sure not a single one of them was fooled.

Sweden, July 1995
Officially my Worst Hangover Ever. Developed while on holiday with University friends Andy, Matt and Chris, at the latter's grandfather's log cabin in the woods of back of beyond Sweden. Mix a very hot summer, closed windows to keep the mosquitoes out, no TV, several hundred hands of pontoon (matchsticks one credit, 10 matchsticks = one bottle top, five bottle tops = one loo roll) and two litres of duty free. With two of the boys already nursing a hangover, much of the drinking fell on me. When I went outside for a pee and fell over backwards with the force of zipping myself back up (my head missing a breeze block step by a matter of inches) they decided it was time I should go to bed.

Several hours later I woke up lying across the bed, my head lolling backwards, unaware I'd just escaped death for a second time that night, this time Hendrix-style. However, I had just managed to, err, revisit the bedroom's interior design during the night (and as a former library student, I'm still quietly proud of the fact that I managed to miss the bookshelves completely).

Although my friends tried taking me to the seaside for some fresh air, I couldn't actually handle being anything other than horizontal until late afternoon, Chris nursing me with tonic water, fruit salts, and blueberry soup - traditional Swedish hangover cures.

And when my dear friends decided to clean up my mess, they found that the combination of alcohol and stomach acid had eaten away at much of the bedroom wallpaper. Chris' father had to drive the 100 or so miles from his home to redecorate. And while Chris' parents must have known what had happened, I'm not sure whether they knew exactly which of the four of us was responsible. Even if they did, publicly at least, they just smiled and put it down to the high jinks of young men.

I've not drunk Southern Comfort since.

Yorkshire, March 1996
Not so much memorable for the hangover as the manner in which I got it - locked in during a snow storm with Paul and Laura waiting up for the Tyson-Bruno fight. Paul and I worked our way through a box of bottles of French lager, plus one shot short of two bottles of Bourbon - all supplied by me. Well, I had said I'd bring drinks.

I can't remember whether we actually saw the fight (I've never actually liked boxing), but we were still going at six the next morning, and after nodding off for an hour or so, I decided that what with it being Mother's Day, I'd better go home. My mum's first comment? "You reek of booze. Fresh booze." The fact I'd left her card and present at Paul and Laura's didn't help. Not that she appeared to mind, particularly. The day with her, dad, the brothers and my grandmother felt pretty gruesome, but I made it through in one piece.

Paul, on the other hand, stayed on his living room sofa all day, before eventually deciding he had the strength to stand up at about midnight. Problem was that once he'd achieved vertical status, he couldn't stop going, falling over and breaking his ankle.

This has been known ever since as "the time I hospitalised Paul."

Yorkshire, Summer 1998
Another one of the many sessions with Paul and Laura that ended far too messily. I was due to meet Thomas and his then-girlfriend Gina at a pub in Hebden Bridge, half an hour or so's bus journey from Laura's house. Everything was going fine until we got halfway, and I had this urge to be sick. I hit the bell requesting the next stop. But it didn't come quite quickly enough. Although I attempted to stem any flow by putting my hands over my mouth, unfortunately my fingers only served to act as a kind of spray attachment. This must have been particularly gruesome for the two elderly ladies sitting in front of me, presumably off to something nice, sociable and wholesome on a Sunday morning.

I managed to get off the bus at a small industrial estate, find a tap and clean myself up a little. I think I may even have had a change of clothes with me. Still, nothing could disguise the fact that I must have met Gina for the first time smelling of vomit. It was something of a strained meeting, and as it happened, our only one. I'm not saying it was anything to do with me, but Thomas and Gina didn't last long enough for me to meet her a second time.

Wales, November 2003
Possibly the best hangover ever, the day after my mum's surprise 60th birthday party (and England's rugby world cup victory). A group of very old friends - Joseph, Lizzie, Robin, Hugh - who mum just happens to love, waking from our slumbers all around the living room (we'd been left where we fell), being very silly, playing word games (fish-based quiz shows), being scared by modern television for pre-school children, and generally just laughing until our sides were fit to burst.

Of course, this list is not to be confused with the top five times I've been plastered (as if such a compilation could even exist). There are many drunken afternoons and evenings I've enjoyed - weddings, stag nights and birthdays included, as well as spontaneous sessions, very special (and sometimes somewhat hazy) memories all - which would otherwise be recorded here.

Now I'm more about restraint, quality not quantity, the quiet pint or two of something good, rather than litres and litres of whatever gets the job done quickest. Yeah, I sometimes miss those raucous days and splitting headaches. But not really enough to want them back.