Out All Night

‘Some of it I can’t remember. It became a fog of hysteria and a dreamy state of yes please kissing, smooching and wandering hands. For me, it led further than that and as blissful as it might have been, I only recall our uncontrolled unhinged amusement, struggling with a condom.’

Maybe it’s an illusion, but 5 am seemed to be the coldest time of the night, especially when I’d been awake, up and definitely at it, for near on 36 hours.

I wasn’t even boozed up. Alcohol had never reacted well with my body, and on the few occasions I ignored that fact, I became a giggling wreck, almost to the point of being anybody’s for the taking. A few times it might have happened, had I not fought tooth and nail against the rat-arsed end of inebriation.

Drugs have also never attracted me. I could get drugged up enough on coffee, chocolate cake and a Wimpy, cuz I was easily pleased.

Yet yesterday was different. By chance it was Friday, so an early finish at the sandwich bar I worked at. Then an over-enthusiastic dash to my favourite bar, ‘The A&B Club’ situated above the aromatic delights of a Chinese restaurant in Rupert Street, a short walk from London’s Piccadilly.

The club’s no longer there because this tail stems back many years.

I frequented this private bar often. I lived on a budget, my income less than moderate, but much higher than my previous job. Secretly I fancied one of the barmen, but that’s another story. I’d spend hours slowly sipping lemonade and looking innocent, or if I got half lucky, something posher, without the alcohol.

In summer months, I’d gaze out the windows across rooftops and the London skyline, watching the constant stream of planes float in towards Heathrow. In those days, I was besotted by travel and the idea of becoming an air steward.

But then many things besotted me. I’d come from an apprenticeship training me to be a chef and let me tell you, nothing about that besotted me. I got paid a whole lot less than what I got making sandwiches, worked 18 hours a day and only got Sundays off.

I’d qualified, but I needed to see more of the world other than a hot greasy kitchen, short and hot-tempered chefs and a weird selection of catering staff. Besides, I’d blotted my copybook by throwing chips at a gobby waitress, a sin never to be forgiven in an à la carte establishment, a moment’s tantrum from my own personal frustrations.

As planned, friends turned up, and after more lemonade for me, off we all went for a Wimpy. Then we met friends of friends and then, that’s when it all started.

Wisdom was never one of my fortes. It was to come to me much later in life, too frigging late for all the scrapes I got myself into. The plan was set; we were all going to a new nightclub in Earls Court, an idea I immediately signed up for because I lived there, in a drab and cold bedsit, but free and as single as a bird!

Drunk from the thoughts of what might be from the night ahead, like a fool I fell to the offer of a ‘purple heart’ tablet. My friends told me it would just make me happy and alert, only for a few hours.

Many of my ‘friends’ smoked weed, and a few took cocaine. I didn’t because my reaction to beer and spirits was enough to warn me. I also knew about addiction, and I already had enough private ones of my own to contend with.

So we all take this magic pill, then think no more about it.

We ducked and dived around central London for a couple of hours, then took the tube to Earls Court. The club, new on the scene was a downstairs seedy meat market. It wasn’t yet 11pm, still early for the club scene to start, but bodies were everywhere, half-naked, bollock naked and scary alcoves where the two or more entwined.

The police would have had a field day because illegal didn’t cover it!

Had I known, perhaps I might have declined, my sense of self-preservation occasionally saving me from myself. But it was too late. We danced like tomorrow would never come, laughed ourselves silly and as the night went on, became one with the growing seething crazy crowd.

Some of it I can’t remember. It became a fog of hysteria and a dreamy state of yes please kissing, smooching and wandering hands. For me, it led further than that and as blissful as that might have been, I only recall our uncontrolled paralytic amusement, struggling with a condom.

Now, closing time, we found ourselves on the street, cold, hungry and wide awake. I was on cloud nine, in a euphoric state for no reason other than the purple heart taken earlier. Even my plonker was alive and kicking, wanting more.

We all dived into the all-night Wimpy bar, adjacent to the tube station. We crashed, somewhat indiscreetly, with a selection of yobs, layabouts and homeless. It could have got nasty, but we were all high as a kite and happy beyond reason. Within a short time, we were the best of friends with thugs, pushers and night prowlers.

I was to stay awake another 24 hours, before drifting into a deep and lasting sleep lasting for a full day and night. I eventually woke with a fat lip, caused by me sucking it, one of the milder side effects of purple hearts.

It was the first and last time I ever touched drugs.

And I still struggle with condoms!

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