Michelle - wibbler.com

Suits and Housewarmings

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Saturday was a busy day which rolled into a drunken night. My best man duties entailed me driving to Epsom with Nick, his brother and dad for suit fittings. Handily, it proved a good opportunity to test out the Lexus. We discovered that rear leg room was an issue (“I can’t feel my legs anymore”, Nick’s dad exclaimed halfway through the journey) and that most of the controls were unnecessarily complicated. And I can certainly vouch for the build quality of the rear bumper, which was tested to destruction by a Ford Fiesta that missed my plethora of brakelights and plowed into the back of me. Epsom is not a place I’d recommend driving round on a Saturday afternoon…
Nick had a set idea of the kind of get-up he’d be wearing at his wedding. A red waistcoat, apparently, was a must – and there was a red and gold theme that had to considered. I never knew weddings were so complicated. After a good hour and a half choosing the waistcoats (eventually settling on one that has to be ordered in, bless him) and half an hour verifying the choices with the wife-to-be, we burst out into the dazzling sunlight of the unseasonally warm weather.
Sadly, I was expecting to be back about an hour earlier to plan for the first party in our new house – it was more of an apology party for not organising a housewarming sooner. Michelle and I had prepared the legendary party bags earlier in the week, and she and Sarah had gone shopping in the early afternoon for food-based essentials. Jac and Shaun had turned up early to watch the Grand National. Jac had managed to win money for the last four years, and he wasn’t going to miss this one. News filtered through while we were suit fitting that his horse had fallen, much to the secret joy of everyone around. When I arrived back at the house the food had been lovingly prepared and they were all playing cricket in the garden. The garden, however, isn’t quite as big as a cricket pitch. Jac and Shaun’s competitive edge saw the softball regularly ending up in both neighbours’ gardens, with one of them eventually offering to leave their garden gate open so we could pop over whenever the ball strayed. “Can we put a fielder in there too?” Nick enquired, pushing the boundaries of neighbourly conduct.
As the sun set, 20 people came through the front door and joined in the revelry. We’d decided on a barbeque, but forgot that fact that I’m useless at them. Nick and Sarah eventually had to take over as the arrival of guests and drinking eventually took its toll on my concentration. Shaun and Michelle found some strings for my guitar and managed to plug away at it through the drunken haze for a good hour or so. The newly-installed Nintendo Wii and Xbox360 were put to full use (an enthusiastic punch from Shunta on Wii Boxing managed to break a ceiling light) and a lot of us managed to stay up until the early hours drinking, laughing and strumming.
The next morning, however, was not so enjoyable…

All Spliced Up

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There are big stages in life that you always look back on. ringading.jpg
Your first day at school; your first kiss; your first job; your first house. Hell, even my first deep-fried Mars bar, down on the Portsmouth seafront, is a moment deeply-imprinted on my brain. As was the queasy feeling the next morning…
Well, on Saturday Michelle and I added another much more important snapshot to our pile of memories. In the depths of Bath, in our favourite hotel, Michelle followed a fun paper-based trail I’d made around the hotel room, eventually reaching one with a very important question. And now, after nearly 6 years – and after Michelle had checked to see if I was joking – we’re engaged!
ENGAGED, for goodness sake.
For Michelle, it was the end of a long wait, bless her. And she has waited very well indeed. She’s currently at work, looking for someone to notice the ring.
For me – well, those that know me will testify to my commitment-phobia and lack of urgency and this was, frankly, a pretty large step.
For us, it’s the next stage in a fun fun life – even if the first thing most people have said is “about bloody time”… 😉

I swear it’s all out of proportion

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On Saturday, I went to my second live football match. This, for anyone who knows me, is an astounding revelation and one that should be rightly yelled from the rooftops – or at least here on wibbler.com. However, there has been a piece of news that over the past few days has astounded me so much that instead I’m doing a little story splicing – and show why I think the world and its media are edging toward insanity.
So, the match. I’d never been to a football ground before, mainly because I have always had a passionate dislike of the over-promoted, money-leeching game. However, after four years of a football-loving girlfriend, I felt that it was about time I tried to understand it. Oli, the boyfriend of Michelle’s sister, managed to get us tickets for Queen’s Park Rangers, and off we all trotted up to White City yesterday afternoon to watch them play Nottingham Forest.
White City was the home of the QPR stadium – and my first impressions allowed me to put another area of London on my “Never Willingly Visit” list. The area is named after the neverending Prisoner-Cell-Block-H-style housing estate that stretches for miles. It is also the home of the BBC, and as I emerged from the tube station, as I was approached by a number of leafleters. “Want to protest against the Jerry Springer opera?” they asked. “No”, I muttered, thinking that they must be individual nutcases, intent on being the David to the BBC’s Goliath. I hurried past.
After visiting a local pub, we entered the ground, settling into our seats half an hour before the game began. The match was enjoyable – despite QPR being the wrong side of the 3-0 scoreline – but it is in the crowd’s reaction that my main thrust lies. For throughout the ninety minutes, abuse was hurled at any player who didn’t perform perfectly every time, and further abuse was dealt to those in the crowd who didn’t agree totally with the abusers point of view. Kids the age of 5 and 6 were at the ground, swearing their heads off because they thought it was the thing to do. Players were booed by the opposing supporters for anything they did and any player who dared to venture into a corner was attacked from both sides by the crowd. I can almost understand why footballers are paid so much. At least they can afford counselling.
However, it was an enjoyable day, full of tension, despair, fun with friends and a temperature that successfully kicked off round two of my neverending cold.
While yesterday’s match was in progress, the BBC was being hauled over the public coals for broadcasting an opera based on the Jerry Springer Show. A clever operatic idea, i thought – combine televisual guff with high-minded opera and cross a wide spectrum of viewers. Plus, the schedulers can wallow in being “edgy”. But the media and religious groups have been up in arms about the swearing and blasphemy – and true, there was substantial numbers of both, as I noticed when I watched the thing last night to see what all the fuss was about. It was, in reality, a clever spoof on the whole genre of chat shows, and remarkably funny in some parts. I also watched news coverage of the protests on ITV News just as it was being screened. A female protester was detailing how appalling the opera was, how no one should see it. And then the reporter asked if the protester had already seen it. The protester paused – and then said that she hadn’t. I’ll wager the majority of the protesters hadn’t seen even a second of it.
The media weren’t to be abated though and focused on the swear words, while the religious groups thrust their intimidating vective on the blasphemy. The Sun, of all people, managed to convey their disgust – this from a paper that dismisses the topless Page 3 girls as a “bit of harmless fun“. Which, of course, they are. Protests outside BBC studios ensued, BBC employees addresses and phone numbers were published on websites, causing them to go into hiding (“would these religious fanatics consider that Godly behaviour?” I wondered sarcastically) and the papers were all over the story like a rash.
So, how many swear words are we talking here? The Daily Mail announces, in an increasingly self-righteous tone, that it “has 8000 swear words”. That, firstly, is utter tosh. The number was miraculously reached, says the Mail, by “multiplying the number of profanities by the amount of people singing them”. In reality, and ignoring the fact that there’s a load of backing singers, the Mail on Sunday admits today that the real number is “under 300”.
And that’s considerably fewer than the number I and many seven year old children heard in just one of the football stands yesterday afternoon. And this happens up and down the country, every weekend. Not that I condemn it, of course – all that’s needed is a little perspective from those blinkered protesters.
So, if you want to stop your children swearing, as at least four protesters contended in their interviews yesterday, don’t protest in the freezing cold against a late night, once-shown programme. Just leave your kids at home when you next go to a football match.
UPDATE: Bloggerheads has some comments here, here and here. You go, Tim!

Missing In Action; Presumed Busy

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You may be thinking that the lack of posts on wibbler.com shows the dull, slow-paced life I must be having. Quite the opposite, in fact, and that means very little time to post the wonderful, action packed events that have graced the last few weeks. For example, there was:-
– the paintball expedition, where I sustained bruises that were still coming out a week later;
– the visit to Fright Night at Thorpe Park, which entailed 2 visits to the wettest ride in the park, long queues for every other ride and even longer queues to get out of the car park;
– the leaving meal of my old boss at The Pier, which resulted in my first visit to chilly Oxford and a series of particularly appalling renditions at karaoke;
– the designing/building of part of the Fat Face website, done and dusted in little over a week;
– the designing of two other sites in under two weeks;
– the Grand Get Together with 16 of my nearest and dearest, all congregating in Zizzi’s restaurant in Guildford, on a table designed for 12 people;
– A visit to Nick’s house with Sarah and Michelle for a night of drinks, games and pre-birthday presents;
– A knees up with Nick last Friday in Guildford, where we cobbled together an ingenous business plan in a drunken haze.
– Visits to the gym four times a week with Michelle, with a view to turning my body into slightly more of a temple;
And last, but not least – Boris Johnson. Boris Boris Boris. He’s been in the news a lot lately for better or worse, and Boriswatch has been inundated with visitors – an average of 5000 a day for the last two weeks. And then last Friday in a hail of media fire, he was sacked. Cue calls from Sky News and the BBC, asking for comments and interviews – and it all came to a head yesterday, with your humble host popping up to the House of Commons for a lunch date with the great man himself.
So what I propose is this. I’ll blog a selection of these events over the next week of so, and you sit there with the patience of a saint. Sound reasonable?

A Week in Gran Canaria

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Fridges must have a very hard time in Gran Canaria.

By the second day of our trip to the sunny Canary Isle, as the heat climbed up the the early 30 degrees and I dripped like a wet towel, my concern for our fridge was paramount. The poor thing was commended to freeze our drinks in temperatures that were climbing into the 30s by 11am. It was a tall order.

But still, let me start at the beginning. The very early beginning.

It was 4am. Even the bloody birds were asleep. But for the second time that week, I was up, busily preparing for a trip abroad. Michelle was being her usual organised self, reading off a prepared list of things to take, whilst I laid back and left everything until the last possible moment. Michelle’s mother has drawn the short straw, and drove us through wind and rain to Gatwick airport. The take off in this weather would be fun, I surmised.

After we’d managed to queue-barge a long line of travellers at the check-in desk and braved their glares, we shopped a little, worried at the weather a little, ate a little, and headed for the gate. The howling gales outside made the grey, unremitting interior of the airport look almost inviting. We were happy to be indoors.
20 minutes later, we were decided unhappy. Trudging up to the plane, across the wind and rain, we cursed our luck that the plane hadn’t been allocated a berth. After several minutes of buffeting, and a particularly loud cabin crew announcement, we were flying into the grey, overcast sky, the turbulence causing small children to scream. I was brave – I merely whimpered.

The flight over was uneventful, save for the excellent choice of in-flight movie – Shrek 2. How I laughed – how I annoyed the person next to me with my chortling shoulders. And then, 4 hours later, the volcanic isle of Gran Canaria hove into view. As we descended through the clouds, the perfectly flat sea gave way to land, and as we touched down I could sense the heat.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the hotel, on the seafront of a large town called San Augustin. We’d read in the brochure that there was a “nudist sun terrace”. I eagerly began scanning the ground for hints of genitalia, so that I could recoil in disgust. There were none forthcoming, and I slumped back in my seat, waiting for the cue to alight.
We alighted with 2 other couples of dubious age. Probably around sixty-five to seventy years old, I reckon. This was the first hint that this hotel may not have a carnival atmosphere, but on a few minutes reflection we decided this was a good thing. Now we’re cracking on a bit (24 and 25 years old repectively), Michelle and I were pleased that our holiday was not going to be ruined by raucous folk. The thought of the nudist sun terrace, however, was distinctly less appealing.

This being her 6th trip to the island, Michelle was eager to show me the highlights. “Shall we go for a short walk down the coast to a place I know? Mum says it’s only a few minutes away.” One and a half hours later, my feet were like stumps, and asthma was beginning to grab hold of my lungs. But despite the length of the journey, it allowed me to take in the sights and sounds of the Canary Islands. And it wasn’t half bad. The sea was flat and calm; the sun was starting to set over the horizon, and people were wandering carefree along the sand, playing in the dunes and rocks near the water. Life seemed very peaceful, and I’d warmed to the place already.
Warm was as good a word as any to describe the weather too. It was past 5pm when we found a seaside bar, before taking in a nicely limed-up lemonade or two. We’d found the Playa del Ingles, the mystical destination Michelle and I had trekked to. The one and a half hour walk back was completed in three and half minutes by a handy taxi, costing 3 euros. We decided, belatedly, that taxis were the way forward. Our feet were immensely relieved.

The rest of the holiday was a mix of sunbathing (unfairly, I’ve no tan to report), getting the in-room and aforementioned fridge to work, and visiting the nooks and crannies of the local towns. There were an unbelievable number of shops, mainly centred around the Kasbar and the Yumbo Center, all with eager shopkeepers trying extremely hard to make us a bargain. I eagerly wanted to purchase several bargains, but at the end of the week managed to buy only a baseball cap. On the second night, we went to a few bars, one of which Michelle has known for years – the barman remembered her, bless him – and another which is a spitting image of Chinawhite’s nightclub in London. It’s even called Chinawhites.

We went on 2 excursions and we chose well. One was a musical, where the singers and dancers came and served us dinner when they weren’t singing and dancing. The quality of the production was astounding, and the idea really should be brought over here. The second excursion was a trip around the island on a catamaran. This required no effort at all, and from 9am to 3pm we mostly laid down on the deck, sunning ourselves while the boat took us past the villages and beaches of the island. There were water caves to explore, and snorkling to indulge in. And I still didn’t get a tan.

So, come Monday, we were sad to leave. The airless coach took us to the airport and deposited us at the entrance. We queued, shopped, queued and boarded the plane, horrified at the thought of trudging back to work the following morning. Still, our objective had been successful – we were fully refreshed after a couple of months of hectic action, and ready for the days ahead.

I never did find the nudist sun terrace.

The Corporate Event

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Work is going well, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve been in my new post for two and a half months, and suddenly Michelle and I are whisked up to The Belfry for a weekend of revelry – all paid by the company. How could we say no?
It was knocking on the door of eight o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning, and Michelle and I were struggling to rise. The Company Weekend was starting in 5 hours – and the general idea was to turn up at a hotel, listen to the obligatory presentation, before setting about demolishing entirely free drink and food for the rest of the night. The thought if the upcoming fun spurred us on, and we arrived 200 miles away within 4 and a half hours. Speeding – us? The hotel is set in spectacular grounds, regularly used for the Ryder Cup, and we swung past the security into the hotel complex, suitably impressed. After mistaking the in-grounds nightclub for the hotel reception, we eventually booked in and made for the designated conference room.
I’ve learned two things about corporate events. One is that they usually involve a bit of teamwork – and this was no exception. Split into our “teams”, we were told that for the next 2 hours we were to build and market a breakfast cereal, which we would present at dinner. This required unusally high brainpower for a Saturday afternoon, especially with the Managing Director on our team, but we eventually cobbled together a cereal (“Crackawhack”), a marketing strategy – revolving around pimps in playgrounds selling our highly addictive cereal – and a few posters. Oh, and a jingle, which I was informed I would sing later on that night. Oh joy.
We retired, knackered, to our rooms a couple of hours later and waited for dinner. Little did I know how debauched the evening would turn.
The clock struck six thirty, and we sat down to be met with wine. Well, it would be rude to resist, and the entire room was fairly sozzled by the time were due to conduct our presentation. Things degenerated into hazy chaos, as each team tried, and failed, to present their ideas. At one point, two managers managed to lose their inhibitions and most of their clothes as they danced around the tables.
Michelle and Mark, my manager, decided to top off the night at the local nightclub, which was surprisingly impressive. Sloaney types strutted around, cheesy music blared out, and I managed to get away without buying a round for the rest of the night. At around 1am, we stumbled back to our room, leaving Mark and the rest of the funsters to dance into the night.

The Leaving and the Preparation

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Well. Well well. I’ve barely put foot to ground in past week, but I’ll fill you in as best I can. Of course, there was the leaving do in Guildford on Friday night. The working day had finished with the traditional presentation – some bubbly, some cakes and a present – a suitable techy one that I’d hinted at the previous day. It was emotional – for so many times, I’d been the onlooker at leaving parties, laughing and joking, but today I was the centre of attention, and I’d no idea what to say. Really, what do you say? I mumbled on for a couple of minutes about the company being “a troublesome teenager, trying to grow up, dragging its heels but slowly getting up to speed”. It was the best I could do at short notice.
The leaving night was fun – a trip to the pub round the corner, where multiple shots were bought and an old colleague Ed even put in an appearance. And then off to a new Indian restaurant around the corner with Michelle and Zoe (and, MUCH later, Nick) for a hearty meal. It was a good night, and full of stories and images to fill the mental scrapbook – titled “My End of The Pier Story” or something equally witty.
And then, it was a long weekend of preparation for The New Job. I test drove four cars, visited the cricket-playing Nick in Cranleigh (he won, I think) and met up with Shunta and the pregnant Lucy. Sunday was… well, Sunday.
And then Monday. Monday Monday. I’ll save that for another post…

One week and a wedding in the Isle of Wight

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Not a few days after I handed my notice into my employers, I pottered off for a week’s holiday on the Isle of Wight. This was no ordinary trip, mind – it was Michelle’s
brother’s wedding, and Sarah was the lucky bride. Matt and Sarah have been
an item for years, and as I uttered the morning after the wedding day, it
was nice of them “to put us out of our misery” and get married.
Michelle and I planned ahead. Well, Michelle planned – I followed. We stayed
the night before at my house, a short drive away from the ferry terminal.
Michelle made sure everything was packed and we planned to go shopping
midday-ish, before setting sail late afternoon for the Isle. All was
ready.
As ever, the plans were in shreds by 9am. My car tax was due, and in sheer
horror I discovered that all the documents I needed were out of date. Cue me
doing a good impression of a blue-arsed fly, beetling off to the nearest
garage and demanding an MOT in the next 4 hours. Which, to their eternal
credit, they did – and we finally set off for the glorious Isle.
The ferry port conveniently sits abreast of a large shopping arcade, and we took full advantage. We
pottered, ambled, supped tea and failed to buy a single thing. By 4pm, the ferry
was docking, it was raining, and we were wet. The Alsation of Time was drooling impatiently
at our heels. We headed for the port.
The trip across water was uneventful. We alighted at Fishbourne, and made
straight to our multi-bedroomed house in Ventnor. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Isle of Wight
– if you haven’t, I’ll give you some advice. Don’t drive. It is without doubt
the most frustrating experience I have ever encountered – and that includes
parking in Guildford on a Saturday afternoon. Despite the island being a
goodly 10 miles across, even a small trip requires military planning. A
combination of large bends, tiny roads and an “older generation” of retired
folk means you are constantly wishing for the open road, a place to open the
throttle and roar off to the beach.
We arrived at the house in the early evening – although a closer description
may be “mansion”. The house was enormous, and amply fitted the 10 people
that eventually filled it. Once the bags were in, attention swung to
our empty stomachs and Michelle and I were quickly packed off to the local fish
and chip shop.
Only, there wasn’t one. At least, not one that was open. So, after half an hour of searching, we ordered the true cuisine of your average seaside town. We ordered a chinese meal.
Once back, we filled our stomachs until we couldn’t move. We were knackered. Bed was calling.
Day Two on the Isle, and the weather was dire. Michelle’s aunt and uncle
turned up (after crashing into a lovely couple’s car at the ferry port), Becki – Michelle’s sister – and Glyn turned up (with Glyn thoroughly enjoying his second week “on this bloody island”), Olly and I found salvation in a food shopping trip and several hundred games of Jenga, and we all hoped for better weather tomorrow – the Grand Wedding Day.
Day Three – and the weather was worse. Nerves a-jangling, we were worryingly
on time as we set off. Everything was going well. Too well.
As it turned out, there was nothing to fret about. The wedding was a
cracking affair, with the nervous groom and best man buzzing around making
sure nothing went wrong, and yours truly at the helm of the video camera,
doing – even if I say so myself – a fine job. It was my first time at taking
a video and I duly made the classic amateur mistake – talking loudly while
filming. Matt and Sarah now have a lovely video, marred only my constant
“witty” banter. Ah well…
The wedding party went long into the night, and was a highly enjoyable
affair. Excellent speeches were given, troughs of wine were drunk, incoherent songs were sung, aged men were falling over – all in all your typical wedding, but a very special one. Congratulations to the bride and groom, Mr and Mrs Cooke. It feels odd just writing that.
True to form, the sun came out in force in the days after the wedding, and we sweltered by the beach. We took a trip to Alum Bay, which, for a small island, was astonishingly far away from our house. The Bay is noted for it’s coloured sands – however, that is not what I will forever remember it for. For Alum Bay hosts the most dangerous rides I have ever witnessed. The first is cunningly disguised as a merry-go-round. However, for anyone above 5 foot, it should really be known as the Bollock-Breaker. The stirrups for the model horses are plainly made for leprechauns, and waves of nausea flood over you, rendering you numb as you ride up and down, up and down, essentially resting very firmly on your crown jewels.
This, however, was nothing – the Alum Bay Cliff Ride should frankly be banned. A Cliff Ride sounds enticing – you can ride down the cliff, take in the view, sample the sea air. The reality is this – you are sitting in one of two metal chairs, the entire thing hanging from a thin wire, as you rapidly plunge over a two hundred foot cliff, open to all the windy elements and facing a fall of gigantic proportions if you so much as scratch your right armpit. You’re not even strapped in, for God’s sake. And, to top it all, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Olly, who found it highly amusing to bounce up and down several times, turning a possible fall to my death into a near certainty. It was all I could do to hang on to his arm for dear life, thinking over and over to myself “if I’m going, he’s bloody coming with me”.
As it happened, I survived. Just.
The last remaining days were spent playing ball in the garden, becoming ultimate masters of Jenga, and consuming vast quantities of food in seafront pubs. There were several young’uns with us, and Joe in particular took delight in the Chicken Teddy Bears on one of the pub menus (“they’re teddy bears in the shape of chickens, Joe”).
And so the sun came down on our week on the island. The Isle of Wight is a strange place – it’s not until the sun comes out that you see what all the fuss is about. We were sad to go.

The Long, Dark Stag Night Of The Soul

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“The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.”
Groucho Marx
Saturday was the Six Nations rugby cup final. Although, not least because the shower of fools managed to lose against the French, I won’t be talking about it. No, an event that eclipsed all others also took place that night – Matt’s stag do. Get a cup of tea – it’s a long story.
It was a cool, clear morning. The promise of copious drinking and a strip club brought to mind my mother’s advice – “Line your stomach, darling, and you won’t go far wrong.” This turned out to mean bananas and milk all round, and as I left home for Guildford that morning to meet Matt (Michelle’s brother), James and Paul, my lonely banana skin served as a foreboding reminder that things were about to get messy.
In fact, messy seemed an understatement. Take for instance our opening salvo, a few swift halves in Edwards bar in Guildford town centre. A quiet place, you’d think, at 2pm on a Saturday. Three scousers, who looked barely out of their nappies, decided that now was a good time to show how very hard they were, with the victim being some poor, misguided fool who had objected to them. Cue a minute of fighting, four on one, involving chairs and all sorts. It was a severe pasting, but the victim won no points for yelling after every break in pummelling “Come on then!”. They already had – and they did again five minutes later, finally finished with a blood-curdling sound of head against door frame. A good start, we thought, and swiftly left through the blood-spattered door to board a train for the Big Smoke.
Leicester Square was the obvious starting point and we made for the Sussex Arms, mindful of the need to pace ourselves to last the night. A few drinks and an Aftershock later, the plan was in ruins. We bounded merrily along, past the Nags Head, past Covent Garden with its wide, intricate arches and on to the Boks Bar. Rugby-watching was the plan, with a view to celebrating England’s victorious win, and the Boks Bar served us splendidly. A Female Tequila Dispenser was installed in this bar, and she had a particularly wiley way of getting a drink out of us. Togged up in Lara Croft garb, the shot glasses were arranged at conveniently racy points down her torso, which she proudly offered with minimal embarrassment. The picture of her kissing Matt was a great shot, and made us thankful we’d brought the camera. The tequila, however, was disappointing – at ?3.80 a shot, it was watered down, and Matt confronted her with the revelation that while we thought she was downing the shots with us, she was in fact swigging from another water-filled bottle on her left hip. To top it all, she walked off without giving change from ?16. By then, of course, alcohol had taken hold, and we couldn’t have cared less.
We watched the rugby. We cheered. We groaned. We threw things. We bloody lost. By then, Matt was suffering. He’d had his head in his hands for around 20 minutes, and we thought it was high time he got some air if he was going to last the night. It worked, in a way we’d never envisaged – within 2 minutes, he’d emptied his stomach. We pressed on.
Two more had joined us – Mo and his friend, who for completeness I’ll call Gunter. I have no idea of his actual name, but he was German, and a cheery bod. Eager to reach the climax of our night, we grabbed the fifth taxi we could find – the first four were either full or ignored us, rightly guessing we might be a bit of a handful – and sped away to Spearmint Rhino, the Gentleman’s Club.
We made it. More to the point, Matt made it. He was disasterously unwell, and his poor preparation (distinct lack of beer tolerance build-up, 3 hours sleep the previous night) was clearly telling. Once in, he headed straight for the great porcelain bowl, while we sped on to the main room.
And, frankly, what a place. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Caf? de Paris nightclub in my time. This was Caf? de Paris with strippers. If you’re going to go to a strip club, this is plainly the place to be. Mo got a round of drinks to shove in our gaping mouths, and we settled down on a plush red sofa. Topless women danced around, and homed in on us like flies. To save my mother’s blushes, I shall merely say that fun was had, especially by our german friend, who ended up ?120 lighter. After a brief geeky moment wondering if any of the young ladies was the “mysterious literary sensation” Belle De Jour, we left, noting that Matt the stag clearly wasn’t having the time of his life thanks to his unpredictable stomach.
We staggered home, amusing ourselves with the astonishingly near retail store of the company I work for, marvelling at the 130-step circular stairway down to Goodge Street tube station (possibly the most challenging drunken moment of my life), and bumping into my old friend Kate and her sister at Waterloo station. I cannot for the life of me remember what she said, but she’d just been to the party I was due to go to before Matt’s stag night reared its head. I think I said “small world” several hundred times. We eventually surfaced in Guildford early on Sunday morning, considerably worse for wear.
A fantastic night, so thanks to James the best man, who conceived the whole sordid idea, and to Paul, whose witty banter had my cheek muscles aching with pleasure. And to Gunter and Mo, whose dad owns my local Indian restaurant the Madhuban (which happens to be the best I’ve ever been to). And to Matt, who provided endless hours of amusement looking like death warmed up. For all I know he’s probably still recovering.
Now all that remains is to get the long-forgotten camera back from the strip club…