So, I wake up early on Boxing Day, St. Stevens Day, or 26 Dec – whatever you want to call it – with a ginga scottish bargirl in my arms, a couple of folks asleep on couches, barowner asleep on the floor, and the cleaner cleaning up around us. I remove myself from the scot, praying that she doesn’t awake (you know the tempers on these redheads), and help the cleaner move the very heavy tables back to their original positions. Then do a bit of cleaning up. Starting a bit of work at a bar, even voluntarily, is rather addictive. Although I’m hungover as hell, and just want to curl up in a ball somewhere the cleaner has already been – I feel the need to wash the dirty glasses, clean up the place overall, and then pour a couple of beers for some early-comers. And one for myself, with a touch of lemonade. A few people trickle in, as there’s some game on where people kick a round ball (ROUND?!) around a field – trying to get it into a net. I therefore assume it’s called netball. Because I heard that was some kind of a girl’s game, and this seemed like it was for girls.
Anyway, eventually things sort themselves out. I drop off the santa suit. Lee has two attempts at going to the bank. Without his car keys – lost. But, manages to get there – to find he’s left the till receipts at the bar. Drunkard. Second attempt – sweet. Leaves me taking care of the bar each time – second time possibly not the best idea, as I take a second nap on a bench. But, by the 2nd time, I think he’d got his shit together enough to see this possibility – and it seems that the chef, Patty, is keeping an eye on things as well. To be fair to myself, which I always am, I did sleep in a position where I could see people coming up the stairs. And I did wake up each time somebody came up. Nearly.
Anyway, starting to regret the several wake-up beers, and lack of sleep, and lack of scottish bargirl – I figured I should probably return to my hostel for the first time in a long time. Tried to sleep. Not much success. Shower instead, and then prepared for my final night at the bar. This involved making sure I had a fair bit of cash in my pocket to pay for my tab. Then making sure I took my kruse-suit to the bar – as a gift. And making sure I smelled nice.
Got to Finn’s, and the place was dead. Seemed like nobody else could do another night after last night. Even Steve was missing. But Ursula was there. And Helen. And Merav (I think the spelling’s right?). And the ladies are all that matter. But, after a few hard nights, nearly everybody wanted an early night. And I guess I can partly blame myself for that. So, after a half-yard of beer, and some other cocktails and shots and what-not, it was an early-closing. And fair enough – there weren’t any customers. Ursula, Ross & Helen get in a taxi together for their respective places. So, I walk home with tears in my eyes after my last night at Finn McCool’s.
Run into the neighbourhood drug-dealer/mugger – (who I’ve made friends with, without buying any drugs – just giving cigarettes, talking to like a friend, and not being intimidated (well – appearing not to be)). Tell him it’s my last night. Nope – don’t need any crack. Sorry. Haven’t got any change either – just gave it to that other guy on the corner. What? Oh – change of clothes. Last night here – might have some clothes I want to get rid of? Just so happens I’ve got a pair of pants I don’t want anymore… he obviously doesn’t believe me – but a minute later I open the hostel gate again – and give him the pair of trousers I was going to throw away. Probably shouldn’t encourage the nasty piece of work – but he hasn’t given me any problems. Just some very good friends.
Oh well. Maybe I’ve shown him the way to be a nice guy. Anyway, pack my bags – and just as I’m starting to undress for a few hours of sleep – there’s a knock on my door. Turns out to be Helen & Ross. Couldn’t bear to be apart from me, it seems. So – a couple of beers, and some chatting. Definitely last night – although maybe they’re trying to get me too drunk to get my flight. Ross fails – falls asleep at the foot of the bed reasonably early. He eventually leaves, and then Helen & I have one last night of beautiful, beautiful love-making. Well, love-making in the sense of the word that the protestants would use.
Still – I suspected ulterior motives – and sure enough, she kept me awake long enough that I damned near missed my flight. Got awoke by the hostel staff at 7am, but was lured back to bed by those flaming red locks. Then, same hostel staff was nice enough to bother about having another go, at 8am. This time, it was panic a-go-go. Left Helen sobbing into the pillows as I rushed to the airport. Just in time to buy some trite souvenirs, listen to the pilot chatting with some guy at the bar, and then discover that it was to be delayed by two hours. Only turned out to be about one hour, enough to fail at getting food – but succeed in getting a few cervezas. Well, half cervezas. Each time I bought one – something would suggest that the plane was ready, and I’d have to leave some left behind. Only to return to buy another. But eventually we were ready. And we left. After watching two 10-year old or so boys screaming and refusing to get onto the plane. The poor kids were physically manhandled (with much difficulty) by a security guard. I have to give it to them, they put up one hell of a fight.
So, after a few hours, we arrive in Amsterdam early in the morning of 28 Dec. How was the flight? Piss poor technology, acceptable food, shit movies/entertainment, and awful seat. With a bad foot. And too tired/hungover to keep asking for more booze in order to make everything better. Still, managed to be tired enough, and to drink enough wine, that I slept a fair bit. And the silly lady next to me got off at Bonaire, so I had two seats – and could kind of put my foot up when I wanted. Kind of. Got to Amsterdam late, so had to rush to the other airplane. With bad foot – which only starts hurting when I’m doing something silly like this. Rushed too much, and got there early, with pain. After spending quite some time searching for an easy option for, and deliberating if I should, drinking a beer – I find a place that does it. But big queue. Then, spot an irish bar. Sorted. Have to wait for ages while the barman talks to some americans. Never would have happened in Finn’s. Have to wait for so long that when the guy finally does tend me, I only have time for a half-pint of Murphy’s Stout. That goes down as quick as possible, and back off to the gate. Just in time for final boarding.
Short flight across what I’m now going to have to refer to as The Ditch, while reminiscing fondly of what I used to call that term for. And so I arrive in the famous Heathrow, London. Buy some bottles of booze, and get met by Penelope. Luckily – as I’d figured a while back that I hadn’t actually made any solid arrangements with her as to what was happening when I arrived. Kinda wish I had – as those arrangements would have involved meeting at an airport bar. Instead – straight to the Underground. And the Underground is just like on the telly. Look out the windows at streets of houses. And the streets of houses are just like on the telly. Long time later, switch trains. Or lines, or whatever they want to call them. Ages later, get out, and catch a taxi. And the taxi is just like on the telly. And the taxi’s driven by a driver with an accent. And the accent is just like on the telly. And we arrive at a doorway. And the doorway is just like on the telly. And we go inside, and Skye’s there. But Skye’s not even on the telly. Mike’s not there either, and he’s not on the telly neither. (I wish I knew how to spell “either” and “neither” with the excessive “v” noises that the poms use). Anyway – a couple of bottles of Guiness. Some sleep. A bath with red wine and a book. A bottle of champagne. Getting reacquainted with all the technology I left behind. And now it’s nearly time for my first night’s sleep in what isn’t quite home, but will do for a while.
And tomorrow, I apparently start travelling again. Some joint called the Lake District. There were Lake Districts in both Chile and Argentina, and I avoided them – seeing as I got lakes at home. Good lakes. This here english Lake District had better be impressive, or the locals will be getting some talking-to.