I came to after six hours sleep, numb from the air conditioning. Martin was passed out in his neighbouring bed, so I woke him up to tell him to shut the fucker off.
I tried to get back to sleep, but the moment had passed. I left Martin in a near-catatonic state and staggered down to the port of Dubrovnik for a couple of lethal coffees and a dozen cigarettes. The previous night, we'd traipsed through the old town, a stunning walled citadel with polished marble streets and gleaming baroque churches. It was yet another beautiful destination to be in, far too evocative and romantic for the likes of us.
Mostar too, visually at least, had been beautiful; a picturesque town with its rebuilt bridge towering over the Neretva river, and not much else. For all the beauty of that place, the majority of its citizens redressed the balance by being surly fuckers.
And now the holiday's almost over. We've no more buses or trains or catch, our last mode of transport a large plane tomorrow, bound for Gatwick. We caught the Mostar to Dubrovnik bus yesterday, seconds before a strange Balkan downpour thundered down for several hours, shrouding the allegedly stunning coast with its islands and turquoise seas in a very British gloom. Yet my spirits were anything but dampened. It was Saturday, and we'd planned to end our trip with a bang. I was so happy that I'd even talked to ladypersons on the bus, one of whom was a stunning blonde Swede who indicated her nationality by pointing at her vast breasts with the words 'Sverige' stretched across her t-shirt.
I went red, and slunk back in my seat, none too pleased to see her leave the bus well before we'd arrived at Dubrovnik.
After lunch chatting to two lovely Australian ladies, and a nap, we'd hit the town. It felt rather odd to be drinking in bars in such a breathtaking place as we guzzled booze with all the sophistication of a knucklehead. I'd attempted more chatting; two charming English girls in the first bar we'd visited, but as I realised they were barely into their twenties and attractive, and I was waaaay out of my depth trying to chat them both up, I'd decided instead to sweat profusely and slink back to my corner from whence I'd slithered.
Then, oddly, a semi-naked woman jumped on a cube in the centre of the bar to gyrate to bad Euro-pop. I didn't quite know where to look as I didn't want to seem like a leerer in front of the two British girls, but then again, in front of me was was a semi-naked woman gyrating to bad Euro-pop.
The girls left soon afterwards, and generic guilt led us outside and on to another bar, then another, and before long we were in the worst place on earth: a fucking Irish pub. We'd only gone there for one, mainly out of laziness as we were having trouble trying to locate an amazing bar that existed only in our minds, and found ourselves chatting to a blonde Australian hayseed. Suddenly, there were three more, and I bought them all drinks because I'm a total fucking idiot. They chatted to us by way of payment, taking it in turns to nod at our weak jokes before running off to leave another luckless girl to it.
Martin and I posed for their photos which rather unsettled me. As one of them threw a drunk arm over my large shoulder, her hand brushed against my hair, my wet, sweat-saturated hair. Her "Ugh" will haunt me forever.
Somewhere near this internet cafe, that gang of Aussie birds (collective noun: a hangover) are waking up to snaps of a fat pink bloke with a damp head and eyes half-closed as he mouthed the words, "Seriously, I don't look good in pict..."
The Irish pub had been the beginning of the end. Up until then, I was in a rather splendid mood, with my smart shirt and generic joie de vivre.
I was relaxed.
I was a bit drunk.
I was happy.
"Tonight," I remarked to Martin, "something might just well happen."
And something did, if the definition of Something has changed to Nothing.
The Aussie bird chatting to me suddenly fled the pub. This is quite literal. She took off mid-sentence without so much as an "excuse me", when four Australian Burps swaggered in with their balls clanging.
"Jeffo!" she'd yelled, and sprinted off in the middle of her telling me about her family in London.
"Bye, fellas," said another as they'd walked off into the night.
"We're offta Belvederes," I heard one of the blokes tell them.
"Fuckers!" I said to Martin. "I wanted to go there. Now we'll look like stalkers."
"Then we should go to that Latin club across the road," he replied, as a fresh hell had begun.
My Middle Age became official in Club Fuego. Martin and I sat in their courtyard as braying fucksters peacocked past sneering women, whilst I chainsmoked and pondered never setting foot inside a club again. Earlier, one of the Australians had said I looked about 24 (Sign #6 of the utterly wretched: Playing 'Guess My Age' with young women), and I'd half-considered clubbing until I began to atrophy but then again, it probably wasn't a good idea taking compliments from someone who'd said wherever they travelled on earth, they'd make a beeline for the nearest Aussie bar.
"I think my clubbing days are over," I said to Martin as the club got busier and we watched a mass of people force their way downstairs. "I'm going to take one last look around, to remind myself what I'm missing."
I stood up and walked over to the back of the crush, and peered into the club proper. People were stood shoulder to shoulder, smashing into one another to a godforsaken R&B soundtrack. Occasionally, one of those heads would be pretty. Mostly, they were shaven-headed fuckhats, and more Brits than I can bear to be around when not in Britain. (Thank you, Stelios.)
I frowned, seeing little point in forcing my way through for no reason, and potentially getting into a fight. I tend to get funny, as Martin had earlier, about patting a guy several times to get past, only to be ignored.
"Fuck it," I said as I walked back to our table. "Let's go get a kebab."