I thought I’d elaborate a little on a small adventure that happened on the way back from the Carnival, as described in the last entry, for ’twas quite the strangest thing that happened that day. Well, not quite the strangest. Probably in the top ten. Or twenty. It was certainly strange.
You see, the problem with being very drunk and very tired and altogether in quite a state is that it can be quite difficult to stay awake. And the problem with getting from Bayswater to Colliers Wood is that it’s quite a complicated route by night bus. End result was that I kept ending up in completely the wrong place by virtue of falling asleep on the bus. Eventually, when I ended up in Vauxhall, I decided to give it up as a bad job and walk as far as I could.
Now, it took me quite a while to figure out that Vauxhall is close to Stockwell, and a night bus to Colliers Wood goes that way. It is a testament to how very mashed up I was that it took me this long – I’ve worked in Stockwell and Waterloo, and several times I’ve walked from one to the other by way of Vauxhall.
Nevertheless, after much trial and error, I arrived in Stockwell. All in all, I was feeling pretty invincible. Which is good, because as places go, Stockwell sucks.
[PARENTHESIS: I’ve noticed something odd about London. My decadent and sinful lifestyle takes me through many different parts of the city. Yet in places like Hackney, Elephant & Castle, Battersea, Brixton, Tooting, Feltham and Stockwell, I rarely have any trouble. Meanwhile, in supposedly affluent, middle-class places like Richmond, Kingston and Wimbledon, I’ve had far more trouble with lairy drunks trying to start fights – to the extent that I actually try to avoid Kingston and Wimbledon late on a Friday or Saturday.]
Stockwell is famous mostly for the notorious case of the Stockwell Strangler back in 1986 and in 2005, for the shooting by police of Jean Charles de Menezes during the 7/7 attacks. Apparently it’s on the up these days due to the fact that it is literally within walking distance of Central London. At the moment, though, it’s still pretty sketchy. This I mused upon as I waited for the good old N155.
At this point, a couple of gentlemen approached me. Well, I didn’t initially think they were approaching me – after all, it’s a bus stop, one of the things about public transport is that it’s for the public (though you wouldn’t think that judging by some of the people you mumble mumble mumble).
But then one of them spoke up. “I like your…” he began, and ran into difficulties. My scuffed jeans, chocolate-smeared T-shirt and worn out shoes didn’t exactly give him much to work with, and so he settled on “…glasses.”
“Thanks,” I said, uncertain how best to react. I mean, I like my glasses too. They stop me from being blind. They are, I must emphasise, nothing special. Fairly discreet with black wire frames. Basically, I use them to see with.
“You having a good night?” asked the fellow.
“Yeah, you know, long night, good night, complicated, going home now, bed,” I said incomprehensibly. All of which was true. At this stage it was half past four and the fun part of being drunk was well and truly over. I just wanted to get home.
“Oh hey, that’s great,” said the chap. “Do you like Charlie?”
I was confused. Charlie? Was that his friend? Was I being propositioned? Solicited, even?
“Do you like Charlie?”
“Charlie?” He opened his bag and pulled out a couple of bags of white powder. “Charlie?” he repeared.
“Not at all?” asked the man, with palpable disappointment.
“Afraid not. I’m more of a booze man myself.”
“Not even to try?”
“Sorry. It’s just very late at night, I don’t want a buzz, I just want to go to bed.”
“Oh,” said the man sadly, and he and his friend trudged off.
I spoke the next day to Hurricane Jack and Succubusface, who opined that the guy was either not a very good drug dealer or the cocaine he had was fake, as discretion should really be your watchword when you’re out selling illegal substances in public. Indeed, it’s my own personal experience that normally when someone approaches you with the intent of selling drugs, what you get is a muttered “Skunk?” as they pass you. At least, I think that guy was selling skunk, it was fair to say that I’d woken up in the wrong part of London and not showered that morning.
And so I think we all learned an important lesson.