I woke Sunday morning; it was about 4 am in unfamiliar surroundings. My mind asked me a question. ‘Are you going to vomit, sir?’ It pondered briefly, ‘Erm, yes, yes I am…’ I had enough time to choose between the sink and the toilet; I opted for the former, with a polite hand to the mouth I cleared my throat and then expelled purple lumps in 3 dreadful 10-second sessions. Shortly after I returned to bed, still unsure as to where I was. It certainly wasn’t home.
On Friday following work I’d decided that I was going to have an early night, not drink wine and do a spot of packing. There was a chance that I would meet my mate from up the road but sadly, his missus’ father had just died and he was required to be on hand for obvious reasons. Being the OCD infused berk I’m capable of being, I arranged one essentially packed rucksack with a plastic bag inside containing the exact items I’d need to leave in the hotel when I arrived at tomorrows destination, the rest of the stuff I’d need on hand when walking in the countryside so keeping the bag light was a priority too. I was due to meet a couple of friends at Waterloo for a quarter to eight the following day so I duly set my alarm, checking to make sure it was loud enough to stir me from my pit, and settled down for the evening.
I woke Saturday morning sensing something wasn’t at all right. Like an utter cunt (with a spot of dyscalculia I hasten to add) I’d set the fucking alarm for 7.35am, not 6.35am as intended and flew into a full on panic. For the last few weeks a steady trickle of e-mails had arrived on my desktop keeping me fully informed of arrangements and schedules, the hotel and train tickets were booked, the party of 13 had been allocated various duties, if any, and all in all everyone was ready to go. Except for me. I was in my bedroom trying to understand how I’d been so fucking stupid, in need of a sedative. Suddenly a solution offered itself to me that was almost as annoying as magnificent. Why don’t I get on the bike and ride down there? Why hadn’t I considered that in the first place before spending 40 fucking lost quid on train tickets?
I had a quick cup of tea and made some toast and marmalade. The Doc Marten boots in the rucksack I’d packed for walking would be perfect for the bike ride; my jeans were adequate for the time of year so I wasn’t even required to pack anything else save a few related bike documents. I checked the route on the AA website, seemed straightforward enough, grabbed my lid and set off. I fuelled up and put some air in my tyres and 5 minutes later it was just the bike, the road and I. The weather was ideal, warm without being too hot, clear, bright and sunny and despite a few reservations on punctuality (we were all due to meet at the hotel at 11.30) and indeed my route, I felt quite calm. As soon as I got onto the A3 I started to enjoy myself, because it was still relatively early and the weekend traffic was sparse, and on account of my clear head and desire to get to my destination as soon as possible, I didn’t hang about.
For those who don’t ride a powerful motorcycle trying to describe the sensation of moving so quickly through the universe on a machine is quite hard. The air is clear in every possible direction, the merest movement has a direct consequence to the forces of gravity and ones physical response therein. It’s a sublime, delicate feeling of literal freedom as one balances on the cusp between joie de vivre and death. A3, M25, M3, I was making good time, I was cruising at 100mph occasionally taking it a little further when the conditions dictated. At Winchester services I made some adjustments to the rear chain and after encountering a fucking issue with the c-spanner that nearly required the services of the AA (for the second time that day) smoked a cigarette.
I set off for the last leg of the journey and stumbled across the destined hotel, located in the New Forest, in record time. Ignoring the problems with the rear chain, door to door, I’d made it in just over an hour. In fact I was the first person to arrive, ironically I thought.
Mostly in pairs the crew assembled at the hotel. Genuine pleasantries were exchanged, we checked-in and went directly to the nearest pub at midday, we pooled our cash and drank 4 pints of real ale. It was a great crowd, I knew most of them quite well and those I didn’t, I recognised with fondness. The stag himself had arrived with his dad and was full of beans, another of the crew had organised a walk through the New Forest taking in interesting aspects of our location as we went. It may seem like a strange thing to do for a stag weekend but it was a wonderful idea, I hadn’t walked in such a large group and in such stunning scenery for a decade, the weather was excellent, the company charming and everyone was a bit pissed to boot.
Among our group were a couple of wildlife buffs who we able to alert us Londoners to aspects of interests of worth, being spring the scenery was an explosion of colour and perfume, in addition to lively banter and chatter the going was good too, it was quite perfect, as I sit here in my flat writing this, dreamlike almost. That may have had something to do with the HSB too.
After a few miles we stopped for lunch at a traditional English Country pub in lovely surroundings. I had a fucking enormous lump of beer battered cod that was excellent by anyone’s standards and another 4 pints of real ale, I believe it was called ‘Landlord’, it was delicious. The booze had little effect on our pace; at least, I was unaware that it did. We rambled happily on though a decision was taken to curb the length of the walk, probably as a direct result of imbibing. Even now we’re all unsure how many miles we’d walked, between 4 and 7 seemed to be the general consensus, personally I think it was closer to the latter but I am from the city so don’t ask me. Anyway, by now things were getting a little vague. Someone suggested we return to the hotel to change for dinner…
Early in the evening we arrived at the final hostelry of the day. Another lovely traditional English pub with low wooden beams, a warm atmosphere and a carnivorous kitchen. Ales were slipped away and at some point I opted for a game pie for dinner, which was excellent, so good was it that it was finished off by friends whose meals hadn’t been to their satisfaction. Needless to say more drinking entered proceedings but by now having bonded with everyone the evening took on a life of it’s own, serious conversation mixed with trivia, jokes (mainly off colour) and for my stag pal and a few of the crew, darts. From where I sit now typing this I am left with the indelible vibe of a truly joyous evening, I don’t think Jesus himself would’ve been able to assemble a more congenial group of people. My only regret is to have stuck with my original intention of avoiding red wine after all those beers…
The jolly red-faced pissed landlord served us into midnight and then it was time to go. Sensibly the stag had already nipped off back to the hotel with his dad with a few of his crew. The remainder of us undertook the short walk back to the hotel with a magical bottle of wine and a few half full glasses. On arrival there were a couple of peroxide blondes, one big, one not so big but both as plain as wooden laminate watching television. One looked distinctly like Pat Butcher from Eastenders (A British TV soap opera) and someone, not sure who but I don’t think it was me, pointed this out. They left. We followed shortly as it was late and most definitely time for bed.
I was quite pleased I had thrown up on Sunday because my hangover wasn’t half as bad as by rights it should’ve been. But there was one snag, a fucking scary one at that. The puking had enflamed the back of my throat which meant it was almost impossible to swallow, subsequently I had a faultless panic attack and the only thing that prevented from me from calling the emergency services was applied logic. Still, I was so worried I wasn’t going to be able to eat without choking I avoided breakfast as even sipping water was problematic. It’s not 100% now but much better.
Some of the chaps had to get going for the station but a few of us, including our stag, checked out the Hotel and walked down the road to a field occupied by a few cows and horses, one of which had a cock the size of drainpipe and judging by his tumult tremulous condition, looked as if he was ready to use it. Mercifully he wondered off in search of a suitable orifice and we set up the wickets for a game of cricket. Being shit at sport and having a jot of back pain I hung about before making my excuses and leaving. After wishing everyone a fond farewell, especially the stag, I jumped back on my bike, filled up at a local gas station and shot off home.
The journey back was just as quick as the one there, and just as enjoyable, particularly as there were many bikes out in the sunshine and riders passed me with nods and the occasional wave. On the way back I stopped off at my parents, just in time for the motorcycle racing on TV. I sat watching it with dad while mum fussed about in the kitchen and garden. It was jolly nice to see them though I was happy to leave after a couple of hours to get back to the flat and take a well deserved bath.
Shortly I’m off to meet my bro and his missus at the usual boozer in Clapham, it’s a gorgeous evening and I’m sure will conclude the end to a wonderful weekend.
Congratulations Mr. Stag, looking forward to the big day.
(Oh, a mate has suggested that I use fake names in the blogs as, apparently, it’s getting hard to follow at times. I’ve thought about this and when necessary I will, thanks Harry)
Today’s Tube offing is a classic, nice vid too