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35. Story Planning 37. My 100

September 6th, 2020

Cousin Charlie's 26th

Today is/was Cousin Charlie’s birthday. Last night (the 5th) Lucy and I went to big Tesco to pick up brunch supplies for a morning fry and grab a birthday card. I selected a delicious-looking cat-featuring card which I doodled on the next day and wrote inside an amusing poem and haiku about birthdays - classic. The morning of the 6th we rose and sang many happy returns to the bday boy before setting to the hob and grill for a scrumptious meal. We had five round the table, Ollie at work and Ryan MIA, but Big Chaz and Willow were in so it felt lovely and family-esque. Bacon, sausage, toast, bean, egg scrambled, bucko fizzo. Ryan arrived home as we were finishing out delectables at which point Chaz the Larger dropped a bottle which bounced and sprayed Sec-sec all over the curtains. He was shocked to his wit’s end much to the amusement of t’others. Having finished eating Lucy went to sleep and I wrote for a while before the Bday Boy and I made tracks to Golders Green for a quiet tube into town where we set up shop at the Something and Two Horseman on Dean Street. Chatted about this and that until we were joined by Callum and Lil on their joyful return to the capital from East Anglia and Kalkan respectively. This was the first time either party had met in a good long while and we were all very cheered by the occasion. We discussed respective lockdown activities making remarks on Callum’s enlarged frame and the propensity amongst us all for the simple pleasures of the Playstation. From the Something and Two Horsemen we went just round the corner for some food at an Honest Burger where we showed our low tolerance by acting very rudely and loudly (though not beyond reproach), getting on famously with the staff and even snagging a free shot each for the occasion. Drinks count so far: 2 (3?) x Peroni. 1 x Honest Beer. 1 x Sweet Shot. At this stage we were joined by Esdale Jr the Senior who merrily banded with us till the night’s end. Post-nourishment we ambled for a while around Soho. Callum was in a mood for strolling, wary I believe of the quick start to his first real drinking session post lockdown. We headed for Trafalgar Square, the veritable centre of London itself (by some books) and sat on the steps of the Church at the north-east corner, St Martins perhaps, with the sun coming in beautifully over the Gallery and down Pall Mall. After a moment’s repose we were up and at ‘em again, this time to the nearby (couldn’t be closer) spot on the corner, the Chandos (meaning not learnt), where we secured a booth just inside the door with space for five and settled in for a few. At the booth in the Chandos we were greeted by a rather strange fellow, the sort you often find in Soho pubs; grey haired and slightly unkempt he wondered from table to table making light conversation that made absolutely no sense. I believe he must have misheard something at our table because he approached with the idea we were Americans and started telling us about his time in the Paras. He stood very close to Callum and me, where we were on the outside edge, making us both quite uncomfortable given the climate. The point came where spit from his mouth was coming onto our table and most likely into our two drinks which stood at the edge. We shared an exasperated look. The man continued talking until he was asked to leave and did so with great reluctance. The thought of the ordeal makes my head pound a little, not least because at the moment he left I picked up my drink and took a sip before realising, thanks to the frank shock on Callum’s face, what I’d just done. We asked the owner for fresh drinks and he begrudgingly complied, at first stating that it wouldn’t happen in a Sam Smith pub, before realising the extent of the man’s uncouthness. We relocated to a different booth after the intruder reentered and was reexited. There we had a good time, chatting and passing the evening into darkness getting steadily drunker, adding a tequila shot to our internal reservoirs of beer and good cheer. We had a good chat with the bartenders there, all of whom have some Italian heritage, and one of whom is also an actor! They have followed me on Instagram but I have yet to reciprocate. This is the point where the night begins to become a little blurry, leaving Chandos. We made our way back towards Soho, but Callum was not in the best state and was taking some persuading to march on through the night. I took a brief side-quest and spoke to Dublin on a video call while the others looked after Callum who ended up going for the underground with Lil, who later sent a picture of him asleep on the tube. The three of us remaining then bee-lined for the French House where they were just about to ring last orders and we spent a moment there discussing old-timey days, before making a new friend, a man who had just left and I went after. For the life of me I cannot remember why, but he accompanied us to a strange club with a psychedelic toilet where we had one cocktail before he disappeared and we went for McDonalds on Leicester Square. I liked the man, Charlie didn’t trust him, he was good to his word and paid for our drinks but I think felt old and awkward. We ate our food on the benches there and then, before I called an Uber and we zoomed Northwards, the others having some sort of discussion, me trying not to fall asleep too much. I felt ill for the whole week afterwards…

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