I read an article last week, hastily viewed at work whilst flinging a sandwich down my throat, contending that time flies as you get older. The point being made was that adults' perception of time goes 'quicker' as they've experienced most things, unless you're bungee jumping into a ravine or being held at gunpoint by insurgents for the first time in your life, in which case you will have a child's eye view of the world and these events will seem like they're taking an eternity, a bit like watching Jim Davidson in concert.
It was much the same for me last night, spending nine hours traversing a series of bars and pubs with Nothing Man in what felt like ten minutes. If I had a penny for every time I've whiled away the hours in pubs, I'd have enough money to buy my own Lear jet. Presumably, if I was given back all the cash I'd ever spent on booze, fags and kebabs, I'd be able to buy Zaire.
We'd agreed to meet at Baker Street at a ridiculously early 5:30pm. The weather was finally agreeing to be summery, so we made our way to the Harcourt Arms beer garden where we were both largely ignored by two rather impressively blonde and attractive Swedish girls. To be fair to Nothing, he hadn't shaved and was in the early stages of a heavy cold. I felt fine and had a light smattering of beige stubble which was barely visible, yet he still looked better than me.
Deciding that we should traverse North West London so I could find myself a nice Jewish girl on the lookout for an anaemic loser with no direction in life, we took a bus to West Hampstead and the well-hidden Czech bar. There were some very attractive women here with shaven-headed boyfriends, a Kylie concert on TV, and a man vomiting furiously in one of the toilets, so we walked back to West Hampstead centre and to Eclipse, panicking that I might run in to an ex girlfriend of mine from a couple of years ago. She was the girl I'd decided to make a proper commitment to, seeing her as often as possible and accompanying her and her friends on mass-coupley nights out. I never realised she was actually quite shy until she eventually met my friends at a wedding and didn't seem keen to mingle. Or maybe she hated everyone. Perhaps one friend's drunken comment to her that she was a 'prime specimen' didn't help our relationship. That, and her dating me. I was dumped a day after I'd booked us a weekend to Brugge because she wanted to be "wooed". She just didn't emphasise that she wanted to be wooed by a better looking bloke with a decent job, car and own home free from Large Northern Flatmates.
I noted with interest that unlike the bars near my flat, the patrons of Eclipse looked like some of my cousins, and many were dressed up for the night. Despite my fairly smart attire - Nothing Man had handed me the new jacket I'd bought and left in Spain - I still looked like I'd dressed in the dark and was desperate to cultivate and air of smart casual on a budget. Nothing pointed out two glamorous girls sitting at a nearby table he thought may be Indian, but my J-dar said otherwise, particularly when they opened their yaps to slag off a girl called Abigail in clipped London tones.
I would've said hello to them, but I didn't want to be humiliated. We were outdoors and crammed together. Any chatting up on my part would've involved being heard by everyone in a 10-foot radius, plus if they were checking any guys out, they were doing so with the stealth-like surreptitiousness of a Cold war spy. As far as I could tell, they had no idea anyone but them existed. Two more attractive girls were dressed up to the nines on a neighbouring table and were checking us out, but this felt more like a ruthless assessment being undertaken than a positive appraisal. Perhaps this was because I'd shouted to Nothing "They're definitely Jewish", and they'd heard. As a general rule, Jewish girls glammed up on a night out will gut you like a fish if you tell them they look Jewish. I could be wrong - and I have a strong track record in being wrong - but try it out for yourself and see if you don't end up at the bottom of the Thames wearing concrete boots.
We took a bus to Golders Green and a cab up North End Road because we couldn't face the long walk uphill, and ended up at the Old Bull & Bush, the only pub I can think of that has its own song. The place has had a massive refurb since I was last there during the previous millenium, and it seemed pretty soulless. My guess was that most patrons had driven there. We stayed until the last order bell rang us into shock - we'd been traipsing around suburbs all night - so we decided to walk into Hampstead and get the tube back to into central to decide what to do.
We only lasted two stops to Chalk Farm, where it dawned on Nothing that the Barfly is just around the corner. This was my first time back to the grungey, filthy Barfly since the smoking ban, and it felt strangely sanitised and clean, despite the general grime.
We danced. Some guitar-based rock songs were being spun by a bored looking grey-haired gentleman with glasses. I don't know who this guy is but he's been here for years, playing the same songs - Nirvana, Blur, The Kinks, The Kooks, other artists I've only vaguely heard of - to drunk kids, completely indifferent as they storm the stage and jump up and down.
And then we left.
Sitting on the nightbus home, I remembered the article about time. I couldn't help but envy teenagers experiencing things for the first time; their first gig, their first pub, their first all-nighter, their first kiss, their first love.
After you get used to all these things, their magic seems to fade.
Or maybe I'm just a miserable bastard with a £70 hangover.