Date: 5 April 2015.
Location: Kipferl, a local Viennese coffee shop. Angel is a ghost town this Easter Sunday.
So, let’s go back to the dark and rainy and neon-lit Clapham High St, midnight on the verge of Good Friday.
I find the Bison & Bird pub and am flooded with gratitude for the convenience of the Tube encouraging me to come here tonight. Inside, pressed up against the bar is collection of favourites: Chandler, Monica, Twiggy, Paris, The Journalist, Lana del Ray. And Taylor Swift is playing.
I press through, order enough drinks to sink a Lohan and say hellos (priorities). Everyone is in a funny, elated mood. We’re (relatively) young, in London, rich enough to drink and we have four days off. Paris is in fine form, teetering on the border between tipsy and drunk, and all she wants to do is ‘daaaance!’. Chandler and Monica are happily giggly and silly. We drain the bar of £2 mojitos and move on to the next event: Vodka Revolution. Yes, it’s as classy as it sounds. We somehow manage to pass everyone off as (relatively) sober and dash in.
Paris is promptly at the bar ordering a ‘tasting flight’ of vodkas but I can’t even decide what I want to drink because something really weird has happened. Earlier, Twiggy had sidled up and asked what was ‘going on’ with The Journalist. It was funny she should ask because, while the answer was truly ‘like, zilch’, I knew what she was referring to. It was him I’d first spotted when I’d walked in to the Bison & Bird alone (not for nothing did we dub him ‘The Merting Place’ on the Budapest trip) and something had twitched inside me.
I brush her off the extremely unconvincly. Perhaps I did have a little, fleeting crush, but that was stupid and could to be squashed. It needed to be, for various reasons: he’s Australian and I didn’t move to London only to date Australians, he’s a year younger, he’s blonde and I don’t like blondes, he evidently doesn’t have a reciprocal crush and, in bold, underscore and italics, I know he’s seeing someone else so this discussion is done.
But I like him regardless. (Much later, around 5am, I will get this pointed out to me by a panel of three drunk, KFC-wielding girlfriends on the cab ride home. At almost exactly the same time I will come to this conclusion for myself with a mixture of relief and horror. Relief, because it’s nice to know that my primitive dislike for the girl he’s dating, ‘Sydney’, stems from something a little less stupid than the fact that her namesake is Melbourne’s key rival city. Horror, because I don’t deal well with uncertainty or rejection, especially in personal relationships. But that’s 5am Alex.)
Meanwhile, at the twenty-first-birthday-party-cum-club that is Vodka Revolution, I finally order a drink and then find myself on the receiving end of a steady stream of dizzingly mixed signals.
First, I learn that the girlfriend is history. Then Chandler tells me I should be a wing-woman for the newly single and heartbroken Journalist. Paris’s pretty friend seems a bit keen on him. My brow furrows with displeasure at the idea. Then Monica switches places with her boyfriend and hisses in my ear that he’s shit at matchmaking. I’m so confused and uncertain about who they’re trying to match make him with. My head is spinning and I take myself to the bar to make it spin in the opposite direction. It doesn’t really help.
The music in the club descends into electro and, once a Twiggy has finished picking up and getting the number of an extremely cute boy, we call it a night. Monica and and Chandler ‘go home’ only to be busted coming out of KFC ten minutes later with a big bag and bigger smiles. Out on the sidewalk, the girls find an ATM across the road, leaving the two of us alone. We talk a lot of nonsense and half-heartedly try to hail everyone a cab. Across the road the girls do the same and, miraculously, are more successful. Annoyed and confused, I say goodnight to The Journalist and he tells me to send him a message when we get home safe.
“I don’t have your number!” I point out, and get into the cab.