First Nick gets himself hitched and has a stag do in the West Country, then Chopper did likewise in, erm, the West Country.
Now Hippy Dave is the third of my mates in recent times to get himself a missus and have a males-only pissup to celebrate.
But What Goes On Stag Stays On Stag, suggesting that we might be dangerous and bad and up to no good. In reality, we all got hammered and went home. However, I'm going to break this code of silence anyway.
I've never had a stag in London before and was quite intrigued as most of the participants live in or near it. I was therefore looking forward to going nuts without the travel expense or hotel bills. Somehow it still ended up costing me 200 fucking notes.
We started off go-karting - go-karting, ferchrissakes. I tubed it to Mile End at 8am with my Sikh chum Suki, drowning in a fug of tiredness and apathy; We're all thirty-somethings, not eight-year-olds, dammit. Everyone arrived in bleary drips and we changed into our racing gear and received our regulations pep talk, rules that I immediately went on to break as I found myself ramming into the other karts, refusing to slow down for chicanes or black flags, and shamelessly whooping like a GI on steroids. Every group that goes there must have at least one idiot in their number, and I was that idiot. Despite coming second last, I haven't had that much fun since I last had sex back in the late fourteenth century.
We started boozing around midday, finding a nice pub on the Pentonville Road with a charming barlady who didn't find me repellent - I made a mental note to go back there forever. Another stag group arrived and unsettled us like a pride of lions wandering into another pride's pub; they were, after all, all dressed up as sailors or policemen and putting us to shame with our civilian jeans and trainers. My dressing up consisted of a t-shirt with 'KOSHER' written on it in large letters that I'd never worn before, mainly because it has 'KOSHER' written on it in large letters. We had a lot of catching up to do if only to render ourselves MORE HARDCORE than this other group in the insensible and unconscious stakes.
We went on to the Elbow rooms to play pool (I got thrashed), and watched the Grand National, winning £6 at the bookies by guessing that Comply or Die wouldn't get shot in the paddock. I then cursed my rare good fortune that I didn't stake £100 on it.
We ended up in 93 Feet East where the plan was to flood our livers with tequila and dance til they threw us out. I didn't expect to be listening to The Bookhouse Boys, a quite remarkable band that sounds like Arcade Fire going surfing with Quentin Tarantino in Mexico. I'm not normally into guitar-based anything; my normal music of choice can be replicated by banging a hammer against a wall and playing the piano, but I'm getting more fond of the electricity of live gigs, not to mention being in awe of anyone talented enough to play a decent tune let alone deciding to group together and play to an audience.
Plus, admittedly, the female singer looks astonishing. Do check out their Myspace above. If 'I Believe' doesn't make you want to run around naked and scream from a mountaintop in a life-affirming frenzy, then you're probably not me.
The night continued in its usual vein; I chatted to a couple of girls who didn't want to be spoken to, who then objected to me calling them teenagers (they were probably both 20). I did some bassist bothering, telling this Bookhouse Boy they were fantastic. I chatted to another girl who asked me what was written on my t-shirt.
'Uh, it says 'Kosher'. I'm, erm, Jewish.'
'Oh, fuck off.'
This wasn't a friendly 'Get tha fuck outta here!' fuck off. It was a 'Fuck Off' fuck off, which I found a little odd. The last time I was reprimanded for wearing a t-shirt was at a petrol station somewhere near Oxford. It was a football shirt with TEL AVIV on it. This had a irked the attendant who mumbled something under his breath, as if I was personally responsible for bombing civilians in Ramallah, or imposing harsh sanctions on the Gaza strip.
'Erm, wha...' I replied to this girl.
'Just fuck off,' she repeated.
Don't ask me why, but I wasn't really bothered. It made a refreshing change for a women to reject me for being a Jew, as opposed to just looking like me. Serves me right for wearing an ostentatious article of clothing again. I must remember to assimilate, keep my head down and not upset more enlightened people.
We all continued to drink as much as possible. Large Northern Flatmate was now hoarse and unable to speak, and Garry was horizontal. Hippy Dave had been trussed into a Top Gear jacket (He looks like Jeremy Clarkson), and made to perform humiliating forfeits, which I missed. I also missed seven rounds of tequila because I was chatting to the foxy singer from the Bookhouse Boys and her bandmate boyfriend - all women have boyfriends when I talk to them, so it was nice to actually have one in front of me as evidence. Jolly friendly couple, too.
Later, a cute Japanese girl threw me by smiling in my direction. I found her after a while working behind the bar. I then did the social equivalent of throwing my wallet into the bin and bought her a drink, and was then unable to speak to her as - obviously - she had to serve other people.
Then, towards the end, after I'd fortuitously dabbed myself with emergency aftershave from a vial I keep in my pocket and chewed on a couple of smints, a girl from among a sea of revellers stared at me. I noticed her staring, then grinning. I was shocked; it was Katy, my lovely ex-girlfriend of many years ago, just milling about with one of her sixty sisters and a friend.
It was great to see her again, great to see her smiling. Of all my exes, Katy was probably the kindest. She put up with my bullshit for six months, half a year of us barely going out because I wanted to write. Eventually she broke up with me after I'd refused to go to a party with her one weekend. I was so up my own arse that I didn't even realise that it was her own birthday party. When we'd met for lunch a year later and she reminded me of that day, I barely remembered it and was disgusted with myself. Yet, despite my being King of the Wankers, she still had the good grace to talk to me.
We had a brief chat. She was still with her boyfriend which cheered me immensely. Katy deserves someone committed and kind, and who will do things like attend her birthdays and go out with her from time to time. Apparently, I reeked of cigarettes, which was great to hear. I admitted that I had been thinking about her the other day; if I do ever finish this damn book and it does actually see the light of day, I made Katy a promise. I'd been daydreaming who I'd dedicate the book to if it miraculously got published. I thought it would be appropriate if it was To Katy.
The stag group ended up in a curryhouse. God alone knows what time it was now. The club had ended and we were throwing poppadoms and naans and beer back. I still wasn't quite that drunk. I had frequently been loud and obnoxious but not, as far as I can recall, rip-roaringly blasted. For one thing, I'd missed the tequilas. For another, I'd spread-bet a ridiculous amount of booze over 14 hours and thinned out the effects. This still didn't stop me singing the Israeli national anthem in the cab on the way home. (I had been requested to sing something Jewish by my pissed cab-mates.) I then had to apologise to our Muslim driver and confirm that despite appearances, I wasn't a Zionist, or a racist, or mental.
Now it is the morning after the night before and there's a Sikh lying on my couch.
I probably won't wear that t-shirt again. Odd things happen.