Sober night bus

Day 2 Sexy February. I finally had a go at this hedge on my face. By the time I was done the sink looked like I’d been skinning a lemur. But now I look a little bit less as if I’ve just been released from a hostage situation. It’s only day two and I really want a drink now please now please now. I’m not saying I mustn’t, but self control is sexy because I choose it to be. And last night I slept uninterrupted apart from by Pickle who seemed a little put out by the fact I wasn’t flat out like a plank of wood all night dead to the world. Perhaps she usually uses me as a climbing frame.

I’ll be honest, I’m wary of myself around hair clippers. It’s only a few years since I inadvertently shaved a bald strip up one side of my head, panicked, and rushed through our rooms in The Lighthouse in Poole to find Chris (who was playing an old saxophone) and ask him if it was salvageable. (It wasn’t. He laughed a lot.We took it all off.) With that memory still mocking, I probably kept more beard than I wanted to this time – just for safety. It’s cold outside. Nice to have some protection.

Newly neatened, I’m heading off for the sexiest thing yet. A Saturday night sober game of Scrabble. Hang onto your hats folks. This is going to get racy.


It seems that we are too sexy for Scrabble. Who knew? We had glorious food, and I had 6 Becks blue each time hoping the next one would be an accidental alcoholic one.

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ThenI was made gamesmaster. We played “the hat game” which basically involves lots of names in a hat and shouting. It’s been the centrepoint of many a drunken row on tour when a load of actors in a run down flat in Dublin or a villa in Milan or a flat in Putney get bitterly competitive over small details of arbitrage after 16 bottles of wine each. And it’s addictive as hell. My team had a secret weapon. I was sober. At the end when their motor skills had all but vanished and it was all over but the grunting, we stormed into the lead.

Now I’m at a bus stop on Putney Bridge, on my way home, waiting for the 22 surrounded by strangers. They’re all very excited. They thought they witnessed a stabbing in the club so one of them grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed everyone then ran away. I can believe it. His mates are pissed off because they all got kicked out. “But there was a stabbing – I saw it.” The high street is a carnage of chips, glass and vomit. Slack jawed men and women queue unfocused in the cold to get into heaving sweaty rooms full of noise and expensive booze. I’ve been in those queues. I will be again, I fear. But right now I’m punishingly sober and conscious of being in the minority.

The prevailing mood on this street is anger. The prevailing volume is loud. This is the nocturnal Saturday drunkparade and I’ve momentarily become an observer. Snippets fly by. “You don’t put your lips … on another person’s lips … unless they’re mine.” “She was sending me photos of my own child to get at me.” “Yes it’s horrid. You hate London, I love London .” And now an animated conversation in Russian, too loud for any other language to filter past.

This messy town. It’s my town now. Has been for years. But now I feel it. Taking the night bus sober makes me wonder what sort of fun I’ve missed (or provided) while taking it drunk.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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