I’d gone down to London especially for this night out in Islington on the first weekend in August. I knew my former workmates Jess and Ray would be there, and possibly Rick too. Oh, and Dave, the director who made me redundant. Dave was leaving the company, too, so it was more of a leaving do for him than an actual reunion, as a lot of the people I’d hoped to see couldn’t make it.
Still, it was great to catch up with Jess, Ray (who still does his turn up late with a big entrance thing &ndash this time it was with cigars), and Rick, who turned up looking in great health, like some bronzed surfer dude. There were some others I hadn’t seen for years, or worked with at all, for that matter, but the common bond of having worked in the same place made for good company.
The evening seemed to whizz past at quite a pace. Before I knew it Rick had left to catch his infamous last train home, and the modest crowd had dwindled to a merry few. At one point I was drunk enough to tell Dave that I thought he was an honest, stand-up guy. Which was weird – I thought he was a lazy, problem dodging git when I worked with the company, but time heals all in this case, and looking back it’s easier to see why he played the role he did.
Danger, High Voltage
After saying farewell to Jess and Ray, I ended up in a gay club with Stuart Rae at Kings Cross. The reason being is that I was staying in cousin Iain’s room, but Stuart had the key and I needed to go and meet him at a location of his choice or end up roughing it. It later transpired that the room had been left open, a fact that Stuart did not disclose to me over the three hours of queer intrigue set to a soundtrack of immeasurable gayness that followed.
The kids nowadays use gayness as an insult. Me, I’m just telling it like it was.
At almost three in the morning a taxi home to Hammersmith from a gay night club in Kings Cross is roughly ?20, and makes you appreciate how sprawling and random London really is. Stuart did go halfers with me on the taxi, but never again, nonetheless.
The Morning After
I was rough the next day – very rough. To the point where I slept until almost five o’clock. Stuart’s brother offered me a banana to help sort me out.
I’ve only met his brother a few times, and they’ve been weird occasions each time. He’s quite the positive lad, and I appreciate that, but when you make someone meet you in a gay bar and then stay there until the early hours in spite of their protests, a banana isn’t going to fucking cut it. Not his fault, I know, just clearing the air.
I’d called Demian earlier in the day during an up between my hangover downs, arranging to meet him later that evening in his neck of the woods. Stuart, his brother and I set off before six to find that parts of the underground had been shut down for maintenance. In London, for those who might not know, this means chaos and anarchy in an already dog eat dog town.
It took us over an hour, and another expensive taxi to get from Hammersmith to Ealing to meet Demian, who was in fine health and form when we finally got there. Right away we had a meal at an old favourite of mine, The Clay Oven, before going to Demian‘s place to check it out. After that we finished the evening at a pretentious pub just around the corner, before Stuart drove his brother and I back to Iain’s place.
I woke on Sunday still completely exhausted from all the walking. Did I mention that I’d carried my laptop with me almost everywhere on Friday night and had taken it to talk code with Demian on Saturday? No? Well, we didn’t use it on Saturday, so I just ended up dragging it around like a deadweight for the sake of it.
And there I was on Sunday morning doing it again – parts of the underground were off again and I had to hike to another line in order to get to Euston for my train home. That’s it with me and London for a while, I can tell you, although even with all of the security concerns and the transport issues I’ve still enjoyed my visits. Something about the place I quite like.