My parents are in Europe for almost two weeks, and with any luck they’ll miss this post. Who am I kidding, it goes to their inbox…but it was worth a shot.
Sooo, here it is. The tale of the most fantastically excellent and clearly the most misguided and irresponsible decision ever made.
After A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time and immediately after My First London, but months before The Poo!, this happened. This is a big part of why ‘The POO!’ eventually happened, as well as A Moment in Time and several other stories I haven’t been bothered to tell you all yet.
Date: November 2011
Setting: Brighton, UK. Several places..will go into greater detail later
Context: First time in the UK, Have been there…uhm…two days. Visiting friends I hadn’t seen in five years. Experimenting with obscene amounts of freedom.
So, I feel the best place to start this story is the morning of the train ride to Brighton from north London. After reuniting, a day of sightseeing things like Harrods, the Palace, Hyde Park, Covent Garden and a delicious dinner of spag bolo, my awesome friend and I took off on what was originally designated as a day trip to the city where she had gone to University.
It was a lovely train ride, I marvelled at the countryside in the fog, and we discussed ethics, morals, and how they related to ‘sleeping’ habits. It was great. Upon arrival at the train station I excitedly hopped off the train and headed towards an adventure of epic proportions.
Brighton, a popular vacation destination, is known for it’s off the wall culture, it’s openness to alternate lifestyles, and for strange people doing strange attention seeking things in public. That means, not only is it a great place for people watching, but it has a FANTASTIC shopping area. We first toured the main streets, headed in the direction of the Royal Pavilion, where George IV spent quite a bit of his time. It was a pretty snazzy place, and you really can’t miss it.
Then we were onto the Lanes, where all the neat shops hid. In tight narrow, windey streets all sorts of magic seemed to happen. They opened up to larger streets with more fantastic shops, including Dirty Harry’s, a place called Vegetarian Shoes which baffled me, and a place where I met a rock who loved cake. I knew I was going to like it here.
After some my first REAL chips, some vintage shopping where I found a sweet tweed cap and tried on other fantastic hats (see below), we went off in the direction of the water and the Pier.
I know you’re probably sitting there, going “What the hell does any of this have to do with Bon Jovi??…I just want to hear about Bon Jovi damnit!!”. So my advice to you is, either scroll down a bit, or get over it and read on. I’m almost there anyway.
At the Pier, which was essentially a carnival over the English Channel, we plundered our cash on games of chance and then walked back to the stone beach. I was happy. This place was great! (see below) I then got a rock in my shoe.
We went late night bra-shopping, and at a place called Bravissimo and was excited to learn the makes bras in a size that could fit giant fun-bags such as mine. And if you don’t believe me, you can look at this picture. I bought a bra and stuffed it in my purse, then headed for a friends flat for dinner and pre-drinks before going to a bar.
Then all at once, I met a bunch of people who were also awesome, and we played a card matching game that was full of breasts and penises, I kid you not. What a way to meet people…And I’m going to tell you right now, that it’s much more difficult to match a pair of breasts than you would think. It was at this point when I started drinking. What I was drinking I’m still not entirely sure. It might have been sherry, but I know I had never had it before, and have certainly not had it since. I also blame this for the headache I had the following day.
All the breasts were matched and put away, and we made our way to the bar to meet even more people and fill the night with our shenanigans. The bar, or I guess a pub is more like it, is called the Caroline of Brunswick, and the plan was to spend a few hours there and then catch a train back to North London. I figured we had lots of time.
This place was fantastic, there was a giant Cerberus above the bar, and the beer was delicious. Things were going great, a couple of Strongbow later I have made several new friends and the shell I usually lived in was long gone. There was jewellery shoved in my cleavage, then subsequently fished out by someone other than myself, my new bra was fished out of my purse and passed around, and I could tell at this point it was officially a good night.
My glass was nearing emptiness, to the point where my wistful optimism could not fill it. So I hopped up off my seat and danced to the bar to grab myself another one. As I’m standing at the bar waiting on another pint, in walks what I would consider the quintessential English 20-something. Tall, dark, cable sweater, black jacket, leather gloves, with the leg-melting accent to boot. Ohh and the shoes! Sorry but the shoes will get me every time. Men of the world! Wear proper shoes! Women will love you more! I promise!
Alright, so I see this wonderfulness walk by, and think in passing that it’s rather lovely. No big deal, loveliness happens all the time. Just let it go. Little did I know at this particular time, he was coming to sit with us, having gone to University and lived with my friend. Aw, that’s just great. Still, I hold my composure, keep drinking, chatting, and eventually get to know this mystery man quite well. Well…as well as you can in 30 minutes.
Turns out, we had a lot of the same interests. And not exactly normal interests either, such as Sir David Attenborough, natural history documentaries and Dinosaurs, which made it even more awesome. I did not want to leave this brilliant man’s side. It reminded me of the time I met a guy on the first day of University who knew who Chuck Palahniuk was and we subsequently had a sexually tense, off-again/not actual relationship for a year, some may argue more. This should have been a hint, but what the hell. I was on vacation dammit.
It was around this time that my friend pointed out that we should really get going if we were going to catch the last train out of here. She was eager to get home to her LTR (long term relationship) which was perfectly fine, except that I wasn’t exactly as eager to return as her. So, I made a suggestion. A rather bold, idiotic and risky suggestion that if my mother ever heard she would feel she had failed as a parent, or succeeded (depends on the day I guess). The suggestion was seconded and encouraged across the board of our table, and the issue of where I was going to sleep that night was left up in the air.
Let’s have a moment of context here.
22 year old girl. In a country she just arrived in for the first time, with a friend she hasn’t seen in 5 years, at a table in a city she’s been in for less than 12 hours, with a bunch of people she met less than 4 hours prior. What could possibly go wrong? It was then that I learned a very valuable lesson in friendship:
A good friend will always leave you with a tiny toothbrush and a condom.
Off she went, and I was in a crowd of new people who’s hands held my fate.
I got another round and settled in. We talked more and more about things I cannot remember for the life of me a year and a half later. What I do remember, however, happened next. I was for some reason dared to sing a classic Bon Jovi tune ontop of the table. Off someone went in the direction of the modern equivalent of a jukebox, and up I went. I would never do this at home, and the nature of the situation itself might have provoked this madness. But either way…I was in for it. With the help of another man, who just so happened to be the runner-up UK air guitar champion (real thing! I swear!), we hammered out a very drunken and enthusiastic version of ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’. This was also filmed on Mystery Man’s phone. Thank the Cosmos that I’ve never seen that film.
To this day I am secretly proud of this daring move, and wish that version of myself would come out more often. I have to be careful though, because that particular me tends to scare people sometimes.
There was a bit of bar hopping and to be honest I don’t remember the name of the next pub at all. I stayed with my pack of new people, following a trail that included a mohawk, the lovely man with gorgeous shoes and two men with long blond luscious hair, one the air guitar champ and the other a super-awesome composer of musical masterpieces!
Once we arrived, after some more preliminary drinking the question of my lodging was quickly solved without real words. Let me just say that both of my friends provisions were much appreciated.
Yes, it was very irresponsible of me to do such a thing, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet and get to know a group of such fantastic super-awesome people. And if anything, I’m certainly better for it. A life without calculated risks borders on the mundane, and as Oscar Wilde wrote:
“Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow. If it wasn’t so, life wouldn’t be worth living.”
Stay tuned for the next episodes of Hailey’s English Adventures, including “Throwing Up in London Bridge Train Station” and “Kissing Ron Howard”.
-Miss Hailey Jane
Remember….don’t judge too much!