Upon returning to Leigh on Sea in the dead of night after my Brighton and London exertions, I met my friends downtown just in time for the Santa Clause Parade. It was a mild November night, and the stars nonchalantly floated in the darkness of a perfectly clear sky, above the sea.
The crowds were swarming, families with children too old to be seated in prams filled the closed streets. I felt like I was in Toronto for the annual parade, except all the order of that event was thrown to the wind, and chaos took precedent. We stood in the cool air and tried to get a glimpse of the festivities, but the crowds lining the main drag were ten to fifteen bodies thick, and we decided to give in before its’ conclusion, and to get a beer at the local Spoons.
Telling my story of the previous days and nights over a pint and some grub was magically relaxing and cathartic, and after finding our way home, I slept like a lumberjack for the first time since my arrival.
I met the next day with a stretch and then some coffee, getting grips with where I was, where I had been, who I had met, and what I could possibly accomplish in the remaining week-and-a-half I had left in this country. Four days here turned out to be more exciting than the better part of a year at home…it’s amazing what one can do when they let their guard down.
The daylight hours were spent winding down, chatting over fancy coffee at an Italian cafe’ that I will always love, and then dinner before getting ready to go out. Again I would be introduced to a handful of new and exciting people, and add another night to the pile of hazy recollections for my future. We got all gussied up in our classiest garb and headed out in the hands of another terribly friendly and polite cabby.
We arrived at a local spot, who’s name I could not remember, but it didn’t have the same comforting atmosphere as the other bars I’d been. People seemed less friendly and I was very uncomfortable in general; most likely because I was convinced to smuggle a mickey of vodka into the bar within the crevice of my slightly ample bosom. Large they may be, I’m sure it wasn’t the best hiding place…It just didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t really in the drinking mood either, feeling like I had left all the fun behind me in Brighton. Cigarette breaks were numerous and I refused to partake until it was too annoying to say no. Shivering outside in my fake leather jacket which did little to keep the November cold out, I checked my borrowed phone frequently with hope of a pleasant word to lift my spirits. Words came and added some colour to a monotonous night but then stopped and I was left with only empty and hungry anticipation.
Back inside, a few others arrived, including my friend’s Slovakian roommate’s boyfriend, and his mates. I wasn’t originally enthralled in the slightest. They seemed painfully immature and not at all interested in me, which suited me fine. I got talking to one of them, the older taller fella who looked disturbingly like Ron Howard, between checking the phone compulsively at this point which triggered a jab in the side from my friend, a clear complaint of my antisocial behaviour. I put it away and downed my drink and finished the conversation, only to hear the first interesting thing I’d heard all night.
Turns out this tall, fair, Ron Howard impersonator was in school, and had the pleasure of working in his spare time at an operation theatre. I was quite amused as we got to talking about cutting up dead things. I told stories of dead squirrels I took to school on the city bus, and playing with bones in the Osteology lab, and he went on about cadavers. It was turning into a good night after all.
This conversation turned the rest of the group off of us, until boredom and disgust hit them and they decided it was time to move on to the next establishment. Our next stop was a club called Dick DeVignes, we arrived, waited in line (I, with a bottle still in my bosom) and fearfully made it inside. I ditched the bottle in a pile of coats, and headed straight to the bar, desperately in want of a Strongbow, the elixer of life. It very much served its’ purpose that night, bringing me back to my senses, and I began to loosen up and have a decent time. Ron Howard didn’t seem to be much of a dancer which suited me just fine, It was too loud in there to hear him talk anyway.
After several beer, bad 90’s pop songs and a pair of rather painful feet, we decided to call it a night and left Dick DeVignes, heading out onto the cigarette butt covered streets. At this point if my memory serves me at all, the men looked for some form of eastern food, while we sought shelter from the cold inside among the other barely dressed night walkers. We called for a cab to take us the rest of the way, and I had mentally wrapped up the night’s excitement in my mind. Ron Howard followed us to the pick up area, where his bike was parked and waited with us. When the cab arrived I was taken very much by surprise and felt a pair of cold lips on mine, followed by a tongue that tasted of whisky. I wasn’t so much appalled, as I was surprised. He smiled and headed off on his bicycle, and we in our cab, into the night towards our beds. I smiled and thought distinctly, I will always remember this as the night I kissed Ron Howard.
-Miss Hailey Jane