In the madness that accompanies the holidays, I believe this piece got lost somewhere along the way. I was on my way back from Morocco – where I was doing an absolute dream story on surfing – and had to spend a night at Stansted in London. It was only a six hour layover but it was uncomfortable enough to knock me out for the next day, fade my tan and give me belated food-poisoning. And thank you too very much Stansted Airport.
The other night, due to a booking oversight on my part, I was forced to sleep in Stansted Airport in London. Or I should say sleep part of the night because they send security around – three loud, cheery motherfuckers in high vis jackets – to wake you up at 4am. The worst part is they call you ‘sir’ while poking you awake with their shoes. It was while I was cursing these smug fuckwits that I realised, I’d spent way worse nights in different places before. I wrote a list of all the awful situations I’d had to sleep through. And, upon reflection, realised Stansted wasn’t so bad, and those ugly, luminous bastards were just doing their job after all.
A cave in Biarritz
When you’re skint and backpacking you end up doing some desperate things. I made my bed inside a cave on the beach in Biarritz when I was around seventeen because I needed my hostel money for bus fare. In the middle of the night, the tide came in and I got soaked. What’s worse, is that half my clothes got dragged out to sea. But what’s even worse than that, is that I climbed out of my cave to a round of applause from a group of smartass French kids in pink polo shirts and white jeans with their initials shaved into the back of their heads. I hope someone set their cars on fire last summer.
A bench in Aberystwyth
This was just bad planning on my part. Way back in the days when kids didn’t have mobile phones this shit tended to happen. I’d hitched over to Wales to meet a girlfriend and thinking it’d be romantic I never called ahead. Well she wasn’t home and after hanging at her doorway for hours, I decided to go crash by the waterfront. I picked a bench and curled up into my coat. Now, did you know that Aberystwyth was the gay capital of Wales? I didn’t. At about three in the morning my little bench turned into a cruising honey pot. I got offered £50 by some guy to take out my lad while he had a tug of his own. And before you judge, £50 could have bought you a house back then.
Beside your girlfriend after she’s just dumped you for someone else
Oh this was a sad story. Have you ever gone out with someone for a period only for them to drop the bomb that they had never considered you their boyfriend in the first place? Well I thought I was seeing this girl from London. She went home for Christmas. I waited patiently like some stupid dog. And eventually when it was time for her return, I met her at the airport with flowers. The first line out of her mouth was: ‘You shouldn’t have’ followed by, ‘Because I’m seeing Neil now.’ Now that would have been bad enough, except for the fact that this Neil guy was out of town and my ex had nowhere to stay, and I’d no couch so she had to sleep in beside me. I should have given her a hard, hate-filled fuck, but I was a mess. I felt so emasculated by the whole thing that when she hushed me for blubbering, I went and slept in the stairwell with a phone book for a pillow.
Milan train station
I got kicked off a sleeper train going south to Naples because I hadn’t the right ticket. I did have a ticket, just it was a local suburban rather than a national one. Some dick had told me that trick worked. Anyway, it’s two in the morning and I roll my sleeping bag outside the station only to be joined by a couple of well-heeled junkies. You know, the kind who do smack now, but will probably get it together by their mid-twenties to go into business with daddy? The two of them shoot up then this sixty-year-old prostitute comes over and tries to straddle the guys. They tell her to fuck off. Then the lovely prostitute did something I’ve never seen a girl do before: she hosed us with her hooker pee. She hiked up her skirt, arched her back and let a golden stream fly a good six-foot free from her body. I spent the rest of the night wet, spooked and stinking of urine. Oh, give me a cold, hard bench in Stansted anytime.