It starts off as a side thought, but it grows. You think about it a little, maybe even try to rationalise it. You say to yourself “why shouldn’t I go? It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do.” You think about it more and more until it becomes an idea. Pretty soon you’ve already enlisted recruits to help you formulate a suitable plan to do it justice. Before you know it you have a trip planned for London. That’s how it happened, my friend Dan and I made plans to head up to the big city and meet his sister and her boyfriend at their place.
Now those of you who have read my blog before will be aware of my sympathies for the plight of the unoccupied. It’s a matter of finding things to do. Well, when you have a big weekend in London lined up the anticipation becomes too much to bear. In my head at the time, this wasn’t just a weekend away in the big city, oh no! It was to be a symbolic night that would give meaning to all those involved. It would be a blowout, a London blowout.
The weekend began like any other involving my friend Dan and me; with me affectionately suckling from the teat of dependence that he courteously provided, as he always does. His car was the vehicle that would carry me all the way to London in a nonchalant haze of relaxing bliss.
To some people not having a car would appear to be an inconvenience, and at times I sympathise with this viewpoint (After all the limitations of a slow and cumbersome bus route become all too clear when the pelting rain accompanies the harsh whistling winter winds.) However when you have a friend, a good friend, who also doubles up as a wonderful transportation unit you may well forget about these past inconveniences. In fact while I sat with my legs proudly stretched out before me with Dan toiling over the wheel frantically negotiating his way through the traffic of London towards our destination life seemed rather good. I may not have a car but I do have a full driving licence. God knows if I can still remember to drive, but at least I have Dan, he can drive for me. Sitting there in the passenger seat I may not have been considered to be in a powerful position in the traditional sense, the driving seat, but in a way it was I who was happy.
Eventually we arrived at Chris and Lucinda’s place in London. Lucinda is Dan’s sister, and Chris her boyfriend. Their ‘place’ was somewhere in the docklands area. After several hours of intensive driving we were ready to let our hair down and get the party started. Dan was particularly looking forward to having a drink, I specifically remember him saying “I can’t wait to have a drink when we get there.” It wasn’t just Dan who had a drink though, we all did but not before we completed our greetings. Chris had thoughtfully purchased a chilled pack of ciders in preparation for our arrival. Being the polite guest I proceeded to drink the ciders, not excessively, only a few in fact. Nonetheless the expectation of a ‘good night’ was beginning to bubble over nicely.
I remember once Dan told me of Chris’s impression of me when we first met. Apparently he believed I was either capable of great things or collapsing into an anxious heap on the ground. I liked that idea, not particularly the breakdown part but the idea that as human beings our fortunes can and will swing either way, it’s up to us to decide which way. Looking back now I see it as an incentive, something to drive me on and make sure I do go on to achieve ‘great things’ whatever they may be. But back then when we were preparing for our night out in London I rolled the dice, I downed a few ciders in double quick time and prayed that that adorable pink elephant would deliver me and the others towards a splendid evening.
Vomiting into one’s lap
In hindsight my ability to influence the decision making process was insignificant, any man who tells you he wanted to vomit on his black skinny jeans in the back of a taxi is a liar. But at the time I was drunk, and thereby delusional, the reality of the situation was conveniently tinted by that charming pink elephant. The bastard… As I let the sick slowly dribble out of my drooping head all over my lap I did not feel like a man who was lost. I felt how the liberal democrats must have felt when they got into bed with the conservatives and joined them in coalition. By being as discreet as possible and compromising on HOW I was sick, I spared my friends the shame of being evicted from the vehicle of an angry taxi driver. I might have been drunk, I might have been deluded, my jeans may have been covered in sick but at least we got home! Had I vomited out of the window instead, it would have been my friends that ultimately suffered the consequences of my actions and not my clothing. I was trying to make the best out of a bad situation.
Like I said, perhaps this was how the liberal democrats felt when they joined the tories in holy matrimony, old Cleggy probably said “we might have compromised our principles, our sense of being, but the public would have suffered more from a hung parliament and the need for another blasted election!”
In hindsight, regardless of whatever drunken philosophy I used at the time to justify my act, whether it be pragmatically seeking to make good out of the bad like Willie Stark from ‘All the Kings Men’, it was I who vomited on his own clothes and smelt of sick at the end of the night.
Waking up in Dan’s arms
I woke up to a surprise. Waking up with a splitting headache was not the surprise; that was to be expected, collateral damage exchanged for the excesses of the night before. The ‘surprise’ was waking up in the arms of my friend Dan in a bed that I have no recollection of getting into. Even more of a surprise was that the only clothing that we were wearing was underwear… Well, it’s not that I don’t trust the man; he’s a lovely bloke, one of my best friends in fact. But when one wakes up in the arms of his six foot five friend; who is incidentally massive (not fat but big) one cannot help but question the series of happenings that must have led you there. Dan is not a rapist, I would happily testify to that in a court of law. Furthermore our friendship is purely platonic; we both have girlfriends for Christ sake! However when you wake up in your mate’s arms you fear the worst… What If he in a sort of dream-like state mistook me for his girlfriend, well how on earth would I fight him off, answer me that!?
However contrary to what might have been it appears that we did not make sweet love that night, we merely shared a bed, a double bed. When Dan woke up he said he felt a hand on his chest, he wondered if he had got lucky. Well you can imagine his sense of disappointment when he looked over and saw a man with a beard. We got up an assured ourselves that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. We left the house for London bridge to explore the surrounding area, we were however very hung-over.
As I stood in the queue outside London Bridge I saw a man walk out from a posh restaurant and carefully take out a slice of bread from a bag, I probably saw the sad reality of poverty stricken Britain. I probably saw a tragic example of how the rich reject the poor and show them the door refusing them a place to dine at the privileged table of society. But I was horribly hung-over…
It may have been the splitting headache but maybe just maybe it wasn’t, perhaps it was the morbid romantic in me that allowed mysel for a moment to muse this thought. Watching that man outside that restaurant eating that slice of bread, I chose to believe in a different scenario, the man was not eating the bread out of necessity but because of an elaborate alternative. I imagined that the man was on a date with a woman, and he had allowed her to order whatever she desired, he probably wanted to impress her. While she ordered a hearty meal he ordered a cheap salad and drank water. Half way through the date, proceedings were going well. But then things started to turn, his stomach began to rumble as he watched his date tuck into her meal, his salad certainly wasn’t doing the job so he made his excuses and left for the toilet. On his way he snuck outside the entrance whereby he ravenously devoured slice after slice of bread. He wasn’t eating the bread out of hunger, but for love! Well it may not have been true, but at the time, it seemed plausible, and perhaps that was enough.