DON’T FEEL THE BURN!

A number of foods can cause stomach acid to leak back up into your oesophagus, causing that unpleasant burning sensation. Alcohol can do it, as can simply overeating. If you go to bed full of food and lie down flat, that stomach acid can leak up, so avoid eating within three hours of bedtime. Acidic white wine, high-fat food which stays in the stomach longer and smoking can all make it worse too. An antacid will soothe it by neutralising the acid but, better still, if you’re prone to indigestion take your time and be mindful of what you’re eating.

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Gus came over and started pounding me on the back, asking me what was wrong. I was laughing and coughing too much to explain and had to carry on choking for a few seconds before I could reply. Finally: It’s the ultimate decadence, Gus, I spluttered. When it came to girls and sex, my weeks of shore-leave were a constant reminder that most people ashore had absolutely no idea of what life at sea was all about: no conception, nothing beyond bad cliche. It was beyond me to explain this to them; so I never bothered. The commonly held view was that girls who consorted with sailors, who worked in bars and clubs frequented by sailors, who sought relationships with sailors, or even if they happened to come into contact with sailors on more than an occasional basis, were automatically cast as being of dubious value: they were, in short, believed to be ‘bad’ girls. The term ‘bad’ was not intended to indicate dishonesty, although dishonesty was thought to be one of the many vices they probably possessed; it was more to indicate that this was a girl that they wouldn’t consider taking into their own society. Such girls were believed to be, among other things: coarse, predatory, morally bankrupt, diseased and probably dishonest to boot. Most people who went to sea, me included, thought otherwise. The ‘bad’ girls I met were just girls, they weren’t bad: most were poor, most were uneducated – although usually good at languages – a lot were desperate, a lot had no choice as to where life had landed them.

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