So I'm not the sort to go 'out on the tiles', it's just not my style. The quantity of people and the whole binge drinking culture just isn't my bag. I've witnessed and experienced enough of it for my fill pretty much, but for the benefit of actually getting the chance to catch up with some long-lost friends from back-in-the-day I simply had to dive in.
I will add that I'm typing this up having literally just got back, the time is currently somewhere past 1-in-the-am ... and while to the letter of the law I would be unfit to operate a vehicle, if some psycho appeared as if from nowhere and held a gun to my head and demanded I drive him to Newport, I'd manage to concoct a Cunning University level scheme to foil him ... mind you, the whole 'gun-to-head' thing isn't exactly likely, least not in Ross Vegas, my home town since I was the tender age of 8 years old.
Anyway, back to the main story. A few days ago I get a phone call from Sully Woo, one of my chums from my high school days - who despite living a few hundred yards away from me, I've not seen since 2005/2006 New Year (life is a strange thing I guess). Anyway, he was arranging a gathering to get some of the old crew back together, chaps I haven't seen in years ... at the very best I've spoken to them online, but haven't met in person in a long while.
So it was a complete and utter 'back-in-the-day fest', but certainly a good one. As I said, I'm sparing with my 'night-on-the-tiles juice', so I think I'm good for quite a while now, but regardless, it was a huge trip down memory lane as we all told stories - either the classics or stuff we'd forgotten about - some stuff I'd not thought of in literally years, up to seven in fact. It's amazing how this sort of stuff can blow your mind, sober or no.
So indeed, Saturday night - 24th November - the gathering began in Weatherspoons ... or is it Wutherspoons? Regardless - "Spoons" as us young sorts call it (although I often felt fairly old throughout the evening when I started considering how long it was since I thought of "man on a mission" or other classics from my GCSE years) was the kick off point.
Time for a couple of pints and some food, which is where I made a poor choice - side dish of chips. Firstly, this was no side dish, it was a flat-out bowl...secondly, it was not of 'side size'...the fucker was bigger than the main course plates Burge, Bufton and Sully all had. Thirdly, the chips were fucking rank, nuff said - undercooked and at first WAY too hot and then (after a brief avail of the facilities) WAY too cold. I might as well have chewed on a raw potato ... two quid my arse!
Anyway, then we all skipped off to The Eagle (and away from clean, crisp toilets I might add), coming into contact with some bloke who was apparently Canadian (maybe French Canadian) who was in search of direction, so we guided him on our way down to The Eagle, at which junction he praised the strength of English beer (after we assured him we most definitely are in England, and not Wales, which is only about 15 miles away). The place was the definition of dead, we were the first lot in there. Save for us and the staff, the place was like McDonald's on Christmas Day.
After savouring the silence (and shite music selection) it was time for pool (and some proper music) and another old face from back in the day - Mikey P, a chap I haven't seen in even longer than either of my three other cohorts this night. All these chaps haven't changed, except they're taller than I remember...while standing in The Crown (our third port of call) I felt like Richard Hammond on Top Gear, surrounded by towering cohorts.
By this time I'd noticed the anti-smoking legislation recently introduced to England (Scotland and Wales were long before England, for those not in the know). For one - I could breathe - for two I could blink without cringing in mild discomfort. Not being a smoker, a choking atmosphere whilst savouring my newest pint is not an enjoyable experience, but fortunately it's nowhere near as bad now. So it was all out onto the decking area at The Crown - an area I never knew even existed until that moment. Oh yes, just prior another old school chap from my GCSE/Sixth Form days appeared - Pommie - who was, to put it lightly, shocked & stunned to see, and I quote - "Nick ... in a pub?!" ... indeed, it is a rare sight and one worth savouring.
So yes, up onto the deck in late-ish-November on a damp night, but much hilarity and back-in-the-day story telling was shared, at which point we all confusedly decided to stay for one more before heading on, having to shake the hand of some random drunkard who seemed to think everybody passing by was an absolute legend ... so after reluctantly shaking the man's hand (I dearly hope he was the sort to wash them after visiting the facilities) we were onwards and outwards.
It was on to The Charlie (King Charles II, I think it's properly called), where not only were there bouncers (separating me from my chaps for a spell), but you had to splash out three-bloody-quid to stand in a hot, loud, cramped, sweaty gaff to scream at your mates. Not soon after my final beverage of the night, nature was hurriedly kicking down my proverbial door, so with the official facilities lost somewhere in a sea of random signing/dancing/slurring patrons I had to make do, exiting while telling the bouncer "yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah" to whatever it was he asked me. Mere moments later and I was hitching a lift back with Sully Woo (his sister being Miss Designated) and before I knew it, I was sat in front of my computer writing up this blog and transferring my mobile phone pictures of the evening ... as you do.
Needless to say, a good night out even though admittedly it's not my personal style in the least - but the main point is that I was able to catch up with long lost friends whom are all legends, so fair play lads and here's a clinky-clink bottle-to-glass chime from me to you lot.
Now it's most definitely time for bed...by the time this is actually posted, it'll be tomorrow...hello future self! *future self* Hello to you too!