Gerry Farrell: Hogmanay hangover cure that got me into hot water

Szechenyi Thermal Spa 
Budapest, Hungary

Szechenyi Thermal Spa Budapest, Hungary

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There seem to be as many hangover cures as there are ways to get drunk. From rubbing a lemon into your armpit while you’re drinking (a bit impractical), to swallowing a raw egg yolk (which might just as easily tip you over the edge).

Even the hair of the dog can come back to bite you as it only delays the effects of mixing beer, cocktails, white wine, red wine, champagne, whisky with uninhibited dancing and gluttony.

This year we decided to see in the New Year in Budapest, or Szilveszter as it’s called here. We invited four of our best pals to come with us.

It was a mistake to watch the Old Firm derby in an Irish pub with half a gallon of Guinness, Irish coffees and a plate of nachos and then go on to a posh Hogmanay dinner with seven courses, matching wines, brandies and cigars.

Needless to say next day there were a few throbbing heads and queasy tummies. With no Irn-Bru kicking about when we surfaced and nobody brave enough to gulp down a raw egg yolk, an urgent solution was needed. Luckily, the perfect hangover cure was just a tram ride away.

The Szechenyi Thermal Spa is an institution in Budapest. It’s one of those things you ought to do before you die.

Some of us just felt like dying, so off we went to see if we could shake the symptoms. A considerable number of other folk had had the same idea. They were queueing outside the door when we rolled up.

An attendant told us there were 2000 people inside. “There are no changing cabins, no lockers, you have to wait, wait, wait. Maybe five minute, maybe half hour.”

Our mates weren’t so sure. “Can we not just go and visit the Castle?” “There’s a castle in Edinburgh and you’ve seen it. You’ve not seen this. Stop moaning.”

Before anybody could get really tetchy, a couple of changing cabins became free and in we went. You can’t see much through the steamed up windows. It’s when you throw open the doors that you catch your breath.

It’s not just the 8 degree air, the place is drop-dead gorgeous. It was built in 1913. There are three outdoor pools with statues of naked gods and other baroque architecture. The buildings are gorse-yellow, the water sky-blue.

Clouds of steam billow and twist, obscuring the heads and bodies of the bathers and baskers. Between you and the hot thermal waters is a thirty-foot sprint across freezing stone cobbles. The pain of the cold air goosebumping your peely-wally skin just adds to the pleasure when you sink neck-deep into 37-degree water. It’s paradise.

Everybody in the water is smiling. Old men are playing chess on chessboards that seem to be floating. Young men are knocking back pints of cold Hungarian lager. Those with aching muscles are standing with their backs to violent jets of water that arc through the air.

There are no plastic flumes. This is a classy place. Instead there is one pool with a swirling torrent in the middle, like a Swiss Roll. The current catches you and whirls you round and round till you’re dizzy.

Inside the buildings are saunas, steam-baths, ice-baths, plunge pools and even a beer spa.

Before we know it, our hangovers have lifted, vanishing into the steam that swirls around our shoulders.

People get into all sorts of hot water at New Year. This is one of the few ways of doing that without getting yourself arrested.

My new year’s resolution - DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ IN THE PAPERS

Having got one story wrong myself in 2016, this is my personal resolution for 2017.

We’ve never had to cope with so much fake news. The rise and rise of the amateur journalist means we need to take everything we read or see with a shovelful of salt.

Last week it was reported that Donald Trump had appointed Sarah Palin as his Science Advisor. Not true.

A couple of days later, the big story, with pictures, was that pranksters had changed the Hollywood sign to read ‘Hollyweed’. True.

So before you share any gobsmacking stories or videos with your Facebook mates, check the facts at www.snopes.com. It’s one of the few ways out there to disprove the clickbait headlines that assault us on a daily basis.

The public’s willingness to buy into stories just for their shock value or because it suits their own agenda, represents a fantastic opportunity for unscrupulous leaders to float to power on a sea of lies.

The Leave campaign promised Britain that Brexit would free up £350 million which would go straight to the NHS. That was a downright lie and Nigel Farage admitted as much – but only after it persuaded enough people to vote Britain out.

Donald Trump’s stigmatization of Muslims as terrorists helped to put him into the White House. He played directly into people’s fears and spread a lie that took root in their minds. The truth is that more Americans have been killed by toddlers with guns than by terrorists.

Trump has mastered the art of the big lie, giant falsehoods, proclaimed to the media with shameless glee. We’ve seen thousands of his supporters chanting ‘Build the wall, build the wall.’ This wall, supposedly to keep out Mexican immigrants, will never be built.

The same people chanted ‘Lock her up, lock her up,’ referring to his promise to jail Hillary Clinton for crimes she never committed. Trump has now admitted that he won’t be putting his rival in prison.

Whether it’s shock-horror moral panic in the Daily Mail, rumours about what our neighbours get up to behind the curtains or allegations about immigrants and refugees, let’s make 2017 the Year Of Scepticism.

If you hear somebody spreading nonsense, tell them. And make sure everyone else knows it’s crap too.