Friday, April 27th - Castle Brewer
Jim came down from the North and made his presence known. While he slept it off, I had a 9 a.m. conference call (one I'd scheduled on my day off). Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, it was punctuated with a lot of screaming and cursing.
It was the weekend of his youngest's Stag Do.
It's worth noting that Jim's son Gary is a good moral kid, Army vet (Afghan), doesn't drink, charasmatic and funny, etc., etc.
The plan for the weekend was a proper blokes weekend. Meet up in Covent Garden with an aimless band of 15-20 friends and Army buddies. Comedy club, eating and drinking and sport, culminating with the Army/Navy Rugby match at Twickenham.
Point of comparison, last weekend another friend left for a stag do in Latvia. He left with a pocket full of cash and condoms, a backpack and a Ghost Busters costume!
First though, we had to pull our collective shit together and catch the train to London.
One quiet train ride later I checked into my "executive" single at the Strand Palace in London. As we checked in I was feeling quite full of myself when the manager came over and whispered to the (my) desk clerk "he's in an executive room, he gets the letter". As it turns out, I paid more and was in a smaller room than Jim but my letter gave me free privileges to all that the TV had to offer. Free porn , a benefit I would never realize.
Then it was a painful march to the pub to meet up with some of the guys. Jim got us lost in 5 blocks and I dutifully whistled the Colonel Bogey March. Couple of pints, some "how you do's" and back to the hotel.
After a second shower to wash the evidence of my degradation the night before we headed off to the Comedy Store.
Gary (L) is a family friend and Army buddy, Lee (R) is his miscreant son who moved to Beijing and opened a British pub. What you can't see is the two mounted police, just to the right of Lee.
Herding cats is not my forte so I eventually got lost and had to ask for directions.
Intermission at the Comedy Store where we poured drinks down our and the groom-to-be's necks.
Star of the show was a comedian who made a career out of picking on stupid Americans. Apparently my fellow countrymen can't comprehend a black woman with a British accent. Thinking instead that she must be an Aborigine. I thought it was funny.
Then off to a club where it was a struggle to get everyone in. Once in, in typical fashion, the old men stood in a corner and drank, talking about what they would have done if they were young. And the young followed suit.
I'm sure that it was a coincidence that I blinked when the photo was taken. That second beer is probably almost empty.
Jim explaining something to someone. He often speaks slowly so that they'll understand properly.
Hey look! I'm not the only one with 2 drinks, must have been a club rule or something.
Lee, Gary and Ben. The story is that the local police would ring their parents house whenever responding to a vandalism, burglary or arson call, to see where the boys were.
On the way back it seemed like a good idea to take a pic with the constables after a night of boozing. If not now, when?
Blokes leaving a pub are going to piss in the street, no matter what. Fiberglass urinals out in the open probably seemed like a better idea than having them piss on the shop windows (seen that before). Jim is unimpressed. "Not being funny mate, but you'd never do that in the North".
The next morning I got up at the crack of dawn (as I do) and waited for the guys to rally. About 2 hours later I got a call saying that they were at the Hole In The Wall Bar in Waterloo, getting back on the horse. On my walk over the bridge I reflected on the kind of life I lead.
Over at THITW Bar Gary was not feeling well. The lying in your own sick for several hours that morning kind of not feeling well. "Aunt" Collette (Tony's fiance) was there to try and comfort him. As the only woman among 15-odd dudes, there was a line for comforting.
Yes folks he's nursing water and had trouble keeping that down.
Now's good time to mention that it rained all day, every day. On April 5th, Anglia Water imposed a "hose pipe ban" to help mitigate the drought brought on by a very dry winter. It's rained every single day since. We still have a hose pipe ban in effect, in spite of the floods.
I was looking forward to a train ride to Twickenham that would get us out of the rain. 30 seconds into the train ride with 15 hungover dudes, I regretted it.
After another Battan death march we arrived at the Army Intelligence Corp. hospitality area to escape the crowds, enjoy the cold rain and warm beer!
On to Twickenham with 65,000 other fans. The difference being that they great each other by their military titles; "Major Johnson, Sergeant Bilko, Colonel Lingus".
Mounted police watching everyone stammer by with a can of lager in their paw.
The Navy, confined to a small space and guarded by MP's.
First of three waves of streakers. BTW - If you're military, it's a court martial offence to streak at the Army Navy game.
15 minute interruption of play due to an injury, time for 3 more streakers.
Army 16 - Navy 9. Afterwards a stop at the pub to let the crowds vacate and then the train back. First though, time to pick up a "can for the train".
Then it was dinner at the Roadhouse in Covent Garden. Followed by a dj and dancing. By dancing I mean the old dudes standing around staring at the dj, oblivious to the hedonism going on, on the dance floor.
The detritus of the weekend; Train ticket, underground ticket, rugby ticket, Army wristband, Chinese cigarettes (courtesy of Lee), etc., etc.
Sunday included waking up way too early, cashed out vocal chords and an inability to speak in sentences longer than four words (not that they would be understood by anyone anyway).
On the train ride back -
Me, "There's salad in the fridge but I'll be honest. I think I'm going to pick up a Kebab, eat it on the floor and crawl up to the couch"
Jim, "When I get home Chris will want to go out but I don't think it's in the cards"
Me, "Maybe I'll pick up Lasagna from the Plough"
Jim, "You know what sounds good? A curry"
Me, "That does sound good, I'm going to have a curry, eat it on the floor and crawl up to the couch."
Jim, "That mean that you're not going down to the Red Lion with the old fella's from the neighborhood."
Me, "No, I don't think that's in the cards for me.'
10 minutes after Jim dropped me off at the house -
Neighbor, "You coming down to the Lion for Church"
Me, "Yeah, I'll meet you down there"