Well, the good news is that I didn't win Drunkest Man in Norwich that night. That dubious honour goes to none other than our good friend Lawrence. A club (my first condition was: no clubs on this trip) by the name of Havana's was the last stop, and there were definitely shots (my second was no shots when the sun goes down). I have a photo of Mr. Smith dancing a la Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction's Jackrabbit Slim's. Funny? Hell yes. Sexy? Not even a little.
Regardless, he was feeling pretty bad the next morning - while I certainly felt like I had been out all night, there was no way I was able to complain, given that Lez had to drive home that afternoon.
We had a big exciting day planned, thanks to Neil. First; Trowse "Mountain" (quotes added by author), the hill that he had learned to snowboard on. Covered in Dendrex (like the world's biggest toothbrush), a decent gradient meant half a dozen or so turns before hitting up the button lift at the bottom. Talk about extreme. The picturesque town of Great Yarmouth was next in our sights, where Neil had spent many of his more hedonistic nights as a younger man. At only 20 miles or so down the road, it would have been a travesty not to check out this mecca of British holidaymakers up and down the country.
I'm being facetious for comedic effect by the way. Yarmouth is a rundown sea side town, indistinguishable from many across the coastline, with the exception of Blackpool. These towns harken from a time before air travel was cheaper than the train (I could fly to Sweden twice for the price I paid for my train ticket up to Norwich), and the beaches surrounding England were better known for the donkey rides and piers than the used condoms and seawater that belongs high on the toxicity scale. Still, the benefit of the cookie cutter seaside promenades was that it reminded me of when we were kids and we would go to the Southsea seafront, complete with 2p pusher machines, ice cream vans, and fish and chips.
Fish and chips. God damn. There aren't many things I miss about England, but a good fish and chips is hard to find outside of the fair island. Other things include: London, Ribena, Jaffa Cakes, and pubs. Real pubs with dimpled gasses, the place still stinks of tobacco smoke and there's a 150 year old man who is there every single time you go in. (Ale and lock-ins, while we're on the subject too.)
Found some fish and chips. Lez fashioned himself up some poutine (keepin it gangsta Mr. Smith) and we ate it on the walk looking out to the North Sea, as is tradition.
The weather was perfect - windy and threatening to rain, "perfect for Yarmouth" as Neil put it. Took some great photos while we were there, including the plywood cutouts of lifeguards and strongmen, and the Vegas themed strip (the Golden Nugget, Flamingo, Circus Circus and Caesar's palace were all represented). But the shining feature on the seafront has to have been the pirate themed miniature golf. It almost looked too good to be surrounded by "tat".
Yarmouth actually has a sad history: during the First and Second World Wars, it was right on the flight route from Germany to some of the major industrial cities in the Midlands like Sheffield, Birmingham and Coventry. On their way home, if the Luftwaffe had any spare bombs that for whatever reason didn't get dropped, they would just dump them on Yarmouth before limping back to the Fatherland. The entire beach was riddled with mines and dragons teeth in preparation for a sea invasion (Holland is a stone's throw across the water), and countless buildings would be there one day, gone the next. As a result, beautiful buildings such as the old theatre, the Empire, are surrounded by architectural abortions dreamed up in the 50s to accommodate the burgeoning tourists in post-war England. (Another interesting story: Neil's father remembers taking the train home from school that ran parallel to the beach, and they would throw bricks that they had collected out the window onto the shore, in hopes to hit the aforementioned mines.)
After our seaside experience, we drove through the town Neil was born in, and past his old BMX park that him and his friends used to frequent. Incidentally, this was a former Spitfire airfield so it was commonplace to find plane parts.
(Another awesome story: Neil's dad grew up with this airfield in his backyard. His father was in the British guard, and one night while on rounds, he saw two Spitfires chasing a Messerschmidt across the night sky. The German was discovered by Neil's grandfather, and marched to his house with a gun in his ribs. To sum up: Neil's father has childhood memories of a German pilot being held in his living room waiting for the military police to show up and take him to a prisoner of motherfucking war camp. I have this image of his mother offering him a cup of tea, and I hope that happened.)
Back to Neil's place, where a still worse for wear Lez had to about-face and drive the three hours back to his place. Neil and I, along with his housemate Kelvin and a girl named Amy (long story) headed out for a modern day hunting and gathering trip (gone to find dinner). We had our hearts set on a pub roast but it seems every bar in England stops serving food just before dinner time. We eventually found The School House (where none of our gang had been), and while their kitchen was (gasp) closed, they had no problem getting takeout delivered to the pub. Curry! We shot the breeze over dinner, and headed back home for a nap (or tactical bitch kip, as it shall now be known). You see, Game 1 of the Vancouver Canucks/San Jose Sharks started at 1am, and Neil had all the ingredients to watch it: a 50" television, ESPN America, and HD. Sure it's not Tapley's, but could we have reclined in our own sofas with snacks and the option to hit the bathroom whenever we felt the need? I think not. Hell of a game, made better by a late night beer or two. And we won.