This was the big one; Luke’s stag, in Barcelona. As Best Man, I had been planning it for a year, so it really should’ve gone a lot more smoothly than it did. Frankly, I’m just pleased we all survived a 72-hour booze, drugs and fags marathon.
Friday 18th April
6am ~ Mobile phone wakes me up with a text. It's Nick in East Anglia to say a freight train is blocking the line and four of them are stranded. Called a cunt for booking early flights from the airport furthest from them.
7.15am ~ I take the tube to London Victoria. Signal failure at Hammersmith. Half an hour later, and I've moved precisely two stops.
8.07am ~ Arrive at Victoria in a sweaty panic. Meet Kevin A, Kevin B and Garry 1. Call East Anglians. They have abandoned train and are now driving to Gatwick airport. Called a cunt again, and told they will miss the flight. Blood pressure rises. I tell them I'll do everything I can to get them on board.
8.20am ~ Take Gatwick Express train to airport. Send frantic texts to everyone. Told off by others for booking an early flight. Receive vague East Anglian text that simply reads 'GAME OVER'. Have minor heart attack.
9.00am ~ Gatwick. Huge crowds due to computer malfunction. Meet ten others, including nonchalant East Anglians who got there ok and wanted me to suffer.
Martin is late.
10.00am ~ Start drinking.
11.00am ~ Plane takes off. Make mental note that this plane could be in tonight's news bulletin.
2.00pm Spanish time ~ Plane lands without crashing. Get outside and start chainsmoking.
3.30pm ~ Eager, shaven-headed taxi-driving yob proudly informs us in Spanglish that he's 'Hooligan' who supports West Ham football club. I tell him West Ham is Oeste jamón in Spanish but he just looks confused. Cabbie then proceeds to show us photos of his children on his mobile phone whilst doing 80 down a motorway. Mentions señoritas by the port and swings his forearm between his legs, which makes no sense.
5.00pm ~ Food in restaurant. Over-order tapas, and ask for 16 lagers, emphasising 'Large'. Lagers arrive in buckets. Start smoking indoors because we're allowed to.
7.00pm ~ Go to the Black Sheep bar. Malcolm, Stag Luke's friend now living in Barcelona whose name I've changed, arrives. We order 16 ladyboys and a jug of sangria. Malcolm vanishes to get drugs.
8.00pm ~ Have to hunt Malcolm down. Find him in hotel room with three others who have been testing said drugs for quality. They are all fucked; Malcolm is visibly rambling. We go back to the bar. Memory loss. Stag is thrown out of bar after getting caught with drugs in the toilet. He then throws up outside.
10.00pm? ~ Somewhere else. More beers. Called a cunt again for the early flight booking. Remember to take some photos. End up in damn Australian bar I don't want to be in. Decide to go for a recce on my own to find a better place. May or may not have had fantastic conversation with friendly local Spaniards. Get hopelessly lost in winding back alleys. By nothing short of a miracle, find my way back to Hogans and realise my mobile phone has been stolen.
Go to a string of bars near the port. Paul vanishes off the face of the earth.
01.00am? ~ Borrow Garry A's phone to call the UK and cancel my mobile. Kept on hold for half an hour. Rambled like a drunk idiot when finally connected.
01.40am? ~ Dancing on podiums. Russell runs off to 'find some angles'. I find no angles as women are keeping a wide berth.
03.00am ~ Bar closes. Paul found outside utterly incapable of anything, about to be killed by three prostitutes.
Saturday 19th April
9.00am ~ Wake up in previous night's clothes. Have Alka Seltzer. Go for breakfast and discover I can order food in Spanish when still vaguely drunk. Sadly order a processed beef schlong in a baguette. Pleasant warm day with cool sea breeze.
11.00am ~ Group split. While others start drinking again, our group end up on some tourist boat that makes a circuit of industrial works and rusting container ships.
12.00pm ~ Watch Made in Barcelona with the other tourists and assorted pickpockets.
1.00pm ~ Sit at a beachside cafe to ogle topless women. Receive head massages from nice Korean lady. Start being called Ginger Beadle because I've grown a beard but shaved my neck. Head feels wrong.
3.00pm ~ Cab back to hotel. Notice that we've all got sunburnt.
3.30pm ~ Have shower, exit bathroom an angry shade of purple apart from the area around my eyes where I'd been wearing sunglasses. I look like a Satanic panda.
4.00pm ~ Hand out specially embroidered stag shirts. Lukewarm response, apart from a grateful Russell who seemed to think I was going to scrawl on t-shirts with a biro.
5.30pm ~ Realise I've not planned restaurant, and frantically trawl internet for somewhere. Find 'El Foro' in somewhere called Princesa street. Try calling them from our hotel but it's constantly engaged.
6.00pm ~ Escort 15 identically dressed angrily sunburned Englishmen down Las Ramblas.
6.08pm ~ Rumblings of mutiny. We've been walking for nearly 10 minutes and no-one's had a drink yet. English girl handing out pub crawl flyers smirks at my red Klingon forehead.
6.15pm ~ Still walking. Starting to look lost. Repeatedly told, sarcastically, that I should phone restaurant on my mobile.
6.22pm ~ Ask for directions. Overhear myself being called a cunt, with feeling. Members of group begin demanding any pub or bar immediately.
6.30pm ~ Ali buys Stag a disturbing dark red Carnivale mask with long phallic nose. Comparisons are made between the mask and me.
6.38pm ~ Fortuitously find Princesa Street. Unfortuitously discover El Foro's vanished. By some miracle, discover a lovely restaurant called Princesa 23 who'll accommodate all of us. Immediately order 16 beers and as many nachos as will fit on the table.
7.26pm ~ Stag is forced to offer red rose (in teeth, on bended knee) to local girl with terrific bangers.
9.00pm ~ Leave to find pubs. More arguments. End up in empty jazz bar. Stunning barmaid stares at my face with mixture of shock and revulsion.
9.24pm ~ Regrettably in an Irish bar. Order 16 rum and cokes, and 16 tequilas. Told to change order by Rob and Ali. Tell them to fuck off in return. They then hassle the barman.
9.37pm ~ Martin invents Spacking ('spunking' on a 'back', due to the erroneous belief that the Stag was once dumped by a girl for refusing to ejaculate on her back). This then becomes a free-for-all of evacuations onto female body parts; Spits, Spulva, and, as Hippy Dave offered, Spaby.
Head out into street.
9.42pm ~ Waiting for Russell to take a McShit with lies.
9.51pm ~ Go to Espit Chupitos where the Stag is forced to deepthroat a beer disguised as a cock, covered in cream (the cock, not the stag.) Ordered 16 'Terminators', then 16 beers, then 16 more shots, which contained absinthe and mescalin, then hide in the toilet to do coke. Should now, by rights, be dead. Stag is forced to ask for lipstick from someone, wear it, then kiss them on their cheeks.
10.30pm? ~ Cabs are taken to Razzmatazz nightclub.
10.42pm? ~ Bouncers at Razzmatazz nightclub deny us entry on account of us all wearing the same shirts and being British. Decision is made to go back to the lousy bars from the previous night, and an argument breaks out. Group split.
11.00am? ~ Another bar, dancing to Beyonce or godknows what. Very little memory at this point. Someone comes up with Spalidomide.
12.00pm? ~ Remainder of sunburnt group finds us. Cheering breaks out. Most people avoid us like the plague.
1.00am? ~ Bar closes. I leave to find another establishment when cute girl I recognise from the previous night accosts me. She's a hooker and grabs my genitals and begins pumping them with vigour, saying "We fuck, we fuck." I reply No constantly, but don't put up much of a fight. She drags me back to a doorway making overt breathy noises and eventually stops. I thank her for finally unmolesting me, and have the presence of mind to pat my front pockets. I suddenly realise I am now minus a wallet. I start to panic, check my back pocket which I haven't been using in Barcelona, then my fronts, where it absolutely, definitely was.
"Wallet," I say. "Give me my wallet NOW!"
"Is on the floor," says the prostitute without hesitation, her voice no longer cute and eager but panicky, and strangely deep and masculine. I am caught between two thoughts; She stole my wallet, I must get my wallet - and, Why does she sound like a man?
The hooker runs off as I reach down for my wallet; Money, cards, everything's still there. She'd backed us into a doorway while I was being fiddled with, using this slight of hand motion on my testicles to hide the fact that the fingers of her other hand were in my pocket fishing for my wallet which she'd then slung behind her into the darkness. I sober up, strangely impressed with the scam and gratified that I not only patted my pockets but that the hooker owned up immediately and legged it. In her line of work, s/he probably carries a knife.
1.04am? ~ Tell the group I'd just had my wallet nicked by a transvestite prostitute.
1.07am? ~ Tell some pissed blokes from Leeds I'd just had my wallet nicked by a transvestite prostitute.
1.34am? ~ Four of us get cab home. The driver demands 5 Euros from each of us before going anywhere. Martin angrily demands the driver take us to another club. I have to hug him and tell him the game's over. Bill comes to 10 Euros. Driver refuses to give us change.
2.04am? ~ Realise I've lost my flash windproof lighter I bought four years ago in Thailand.
2.46am? ~ Finish coke. Stand outside hotel with Ali, chainsmoking. Martin and Ian walk down Las Ramblas to find another bar. They're approached by two friendly locals who then proceed to try and pickpocket them.
3.58am? ~ Go to bed. Lose key, and can't activate lights. Fall back onto bed to remove shoes. Bed not there. Land on arse.
Sunday 20th April
I wake up covered in bruises and sunburns. After getting a bite to eat, I am admonished again, this time for booking a late flight. We end up in Hogans bar again, drinking til 3pm when we make our way to the airport and a flight delay. By the time everyone rolls back into Gatwick, it is 11pm on Sunday night and my name is mud. I try not to tell too many people that I've got the week off work.
At Victoria tube, the group is now down to me and two Kevins. Garry left to head south and miss the last tube. Kevin A and myself run out at Oxford Circus and jog with backpacks to the Central line, but it's too late. A tannoy is announcing that the underground has now closed for the night, and Fuck Off. We surface to a drizzly London evening. The first people we see are Polish maintenance men and cockneys about to tinker with the tube and, on street level, a group of Spaniards going one way, and a French group going another. We are forced to add to the £300 spent this weekend (not including flights and accommodation), and get a black cab home to West London. I'm home gone midnight.
If I ever have a stag, it'll be at a health farm.