I was arranging a catch up with a couple of friends in London before heading up to Norwich; Lauren and Lawrence (whom shall be called Lez to avoid confusion). I said goodbye to Ali and was on the train at 1:05pm; at 2;45 we pulled into Waterloo. See? That's better.
I always enjoy London, although it's been years since I actually spent any time there that wasn't catching another train or flight. I was meeting them at tottenham court road, and I wasn't sure exactly what was around or where to meet… Cafe Rouge. That looks decent enough. I texted both friends and got to work on another project I've been scheming over for a little while. Next thing I know, the waitress is giving me a note on the back of a receipt. t was from another girl in the cafe. I gotta say, it really makes you smile when you get hit on. It's rare that it happens outside of the club.
Before I had a chance to write anything back, she was gone and Lez arrived. He had a job interview in central London so to see a guy who I know as a snowboard bum in a suit and tie was a funny sight. As Lauren was tending to a friend in hospital (possible meningitis) we killed some time by having a beer and catching up (in the 2 weeks since we'd seen each other, apparently a lot had happened!) After the drinks we thought we could probably catch Lauren outside, given that she was due any minute, so Lez called her. Talk about timing - sure enough, she was 30 feet away! Then began the longest search for an O'Neill's anyone has probably ever had. With lauren in the lead (possibly our first mistake!) we walked down Piccadilly in completely the opposite way we should have. After about 500 metres (seriously) she says " I know it's between Piccadilly and Leicester Square". Now, I'll never claim to know London all that well, but I was fairly sure it wasn't that far between those two famous tourist spots. I don't remember who had the idea to turn our crew around but once we did and we got back to Piccadilly I saw exactly where we needed to go!
Once we'd settled on a table upstairs overlooking the entrance to Chinatown, we got the beer, and then again. I had decided that, as Neil would be picking me up from the station I didn't want to be too late. By and by, the two Ls were giving me more and more reasons to stay with one of them (Lauren lives in the West End, Lez up near Loughborough). Also, beer. They gave me more and more beer. After a while I thought, you know what? The hell with it. I'll stay with Lez. I was thinking back to the ill friend of Lauren's who was discharged that afternoon, and due to it being her boyfriend of sorts he was staying at her place. Regardless, Lez's place was the place to be. He would pay for my ticket up, and we would head to Norwich together in the morning.
Then shit, as they say, got real.
Next round was my round. Jagerbombs. Then Lauren got them, and then Lez got some more. I know where I stand with shots, and if it weren't for the red bull I wouldn't have done well. Lauren meanwhile, was already a bottle of wine in, and going strong! By the time we left it was gone 11, and the streets were full of drunken revellers. Highlights of the walk to the tube station included Lauren climbing some scaffolding, her walking out in front of london traffic, and her talking to all kinds of strangers in order to find out if we were going the right way. Come to think of it, it seemed more like babysitting, in retrospect. Sent Lauren off into the night and headed to St. Pancras to get the 12:15 north, the last train to Lez's station.
* * *
Oh, don't say that, Lez.
He had forgotten that the so-called "last train" stopped at Leicester. Which, incidentally, is 2 stops before Loughborough. Or, to put it another way, a £50 cab ride. At 2:30 in the morning. But first we had to get there. We decided to keep it classy and grabbed a bottle of Shiraz from Marks and Spencer, and opened her up on the train. 2 hours later, we're talking to a Sikh cabbie that finally got our drunk asses home.