It was the day that England played Wales in the Six Nations and we were planning a civilised and productive day.
So it was that I ventured out the house in the direction of Battersea at 4pm. I was going to be late, but it was ok. For I was meeting John. And if there’s one thing you can guarantee about John, is that he’ll be late.
We bumped into each other outside a church near Clapham Junction, remarked on the obscenely pompous conversations we had overheard on the streets on the way over, then headed on to The Eagle Ale House.
As soon as we walked in I was happy. It was busy and bustling, but not rammed and uncomfortable. And it had that dodgy pub feel that isn’t acceptable under 99% of situations, but is fundamental to the atmosphere of a sporting event.
I bought myself a Heineken – it was warm outside – and John a seriously funky looking pint of ale. Then we proceeded outside.
It was rowdy, the tables were wobbly, the TV screen was the least reliable thing I have ever seen – every 20 seconds it would flicker to white noise, and I was forever fearful I would witness the return of that weird girl with a dummy standby screen you used to get in the 90s. And yet I really loved this pub. It had an essence of reality to it. It knew it was a bit shit, but it didn’t ask forgiveness. It just accepted and carried on as best it could. I can respect that.
Wales lost the game, much to my horror. But John kept me entertained by pointing out the WAGS standing in the corner. Fake faces with fake hair. Fake fingers and fake personalities. But one stood out beyond the realms of believability. She had so much fake tan on she looked like something from a horror movie. ‘The Manakin That Fell In The Mud’.
But anyway we had three pints, Fred and Kim turned up, then we went to another pub to be constructive. I don’t even remember where this pub was, which is a forewarning of how the night was to go on. All I know is that it was somewhere near Victoria.
John, Fred and I are planning a joint 30th birthday party in June, and we had until this point done very little to organise it. So this evening had been set aside to get everything sorted, planned and in action.
We wrote the invitations and did very little else. Mainly had another few pints here, awaited Pippa’s arrival, then crawled the streets of Victoria for a restaurant.
We liked the look of a Chinese restaurant but I pushed John in a bush outside so we couldn’t go there anymore, and instead settled on an Ottoman place. Noone really knew what Ottoman food was, which was probably its biggest selling point.
So we dived in and bought a load of cocktails before settling down for a massive meal, with two bottles of wine. Then for dessert we had some shots of raki. Though Kim and I didn’t like ours so we gave them to Freddie. By the time we left we were all shitfaced and I can’t really remember what happened after that.
I think we went to a bar and bought some more drinks, before saying goodbye to John and Pippa as they headed to Victoria for a train home. It was just Fred, Kim and I as we went to Fred’s car to pick up his West Ham shirt. Apparently we had a little wrestle on this occasion and in some way I smashed a glass and totally covered the car in it. This all came from Kim’s memory and I’m not sure I believe it.
In our drunken state we got an uber taxi to Leicester Square to spend the little money we had in a Casino. This was a terrible idea. Fortunately the security on all four Casinos we tried felt the same and refused us entry. We tried all sorts of tricks – going for some ‘water’, having a snack, changing our clothes. But no, on every occasion Freddie was just too drunk.
As an experiment we sent Kim in alone to the Empire Casino. We wanted to see just how selective the security were. Of course she got in. Only for Freddie to charge up to the security and shout through to her. ‘SWEEEEEEET-HEEEEART!’ There he was, held back by big burly bouncers, screaming at the top of his voice into a respectable establishment.
At first she wisely chose to ignore it, but the caterwauling failed to cease. And so ultimately she relented and returned to him, her plan foiled.
Of course this wouldn’t be the end of it. We at this moment decided it would be wise to have our second sitdown meal of the night. We ventured in to the only Chinese restaurant still open at 3am and ordered a massive meal. This consisted of 90% tofu. 80% of which Freddie threw all over Kim and the restaurant. Mainly Kim.
This made it all the more embarrassing when Freddie had to return to the place the next day to pick up his West Ham Shirt.
They were not impressed.