an idiot in london


Saturday, 22nd July.
Racecourse of the Millennium

This morning I went to Harrods. No Vickie, I didn't see your aunt, but that might've been because I was so distracted by all the pricetags. Distracted is the wrong word, intimidated is closer to it.

Mark and Bonnie will soon be moving to Australia. Tonight was the first in a series of farewell bashes. And what a way to bow out - a night at Walthamstow greyhound track! (Named British Greyhound Racing Board's "Racecourse of the Millennium".) Walthamstow is out in London's north, and could be described as being miles from anywhere. I had to change trains at Walthamstow Central, and was walking along when somebody tugged at my newspaper. (I decided that I needed to look the part, and what better way than to have a copy of the Sun in my hand!) It was Mark, with Bonnie close behind.

Essex's finest come out to play at Walthamstow Stadium on a Saturday night. All the local belles and beaus put on their best threads and hit the track. Standard attire for men: dark trousers with a bright, single coloured shirt. Standard attire for women: something inappropriate that they have to spend the entire evening hitching up. NOTICE TO WOMEN: If you have to hitch up a garment in order to keep it on, then that is nature's way of telling you NOT TO WEAR THE BLOODY THING.

There was a hen's night going on that night, featuring some of the roughest looking birds you are ever likely to see! But by mid-way through the evening they had managed to attract a bunch of Essex boys...good grief, it was all too much.

Ritas Meg...there's two quid I'll never see again...

After the fun was all over, we honoured the age-old English tradition of going for an Indian meal to finish off the night. Seventeen of us descended upon this unsuspecting Indian restaurant, but there was no unruly behaviour. Mmmmmm, lamb tikka.

Dilemma: how to get home. I was crashing at Mark and Bonnie's joint, but there was five of us going there, and no minicab would take us. So we had to find a black cab. Not so easy when you're in sodding Walthamstow! We started wandering back in the direction of the dogtrack, when a bus appeared behind us. Mark dashed off ahead of us to the next bus stop, and we all made it onto the bus. And what a ride it was to be.

First of all the busdriver was having an argument with one of the other passengers over exactly where the bus was going. We wanted to get to Angel, where we figured we'd have a better chance of getting a cab. This passenger was trying to tell everyone that would listen that this bus was not going as far as Angel. I said that the bus driver could go wherever he bloody well wanted. Then Mark started arguing with the busdriver over his change, when the driver had actually given the change to Paul, another member of our party. We were heading south, and I had no bloody idea where we were. Mark and Bonnie tried to supply a running commentary of the dodgy suburbs through which we passed. Leyton, Hackney, Dalston, Kingsland, all rough as guts. Crazy people boarding the bus - the driver had a stand up row (except he was sitting down) with some French bloke who was adamant that he didn't speak english. The driver wasn't impressed. Drunk people staggered about the aisle - it was the best entertainment I've ever had on a bus ride. And that includes the time the hoons down the back of my high school bus threw Mark Stack's tie out the window somewhere near Breadalbane.

We emerged from the bus near Upper Street, and Mark somehow convinced a taxi to take us back to Tufnell Park. Exhausted, we slept.