The Best of Friends

picture courtesy of Google Image

There’s five of us girls. There’s been five of us for nearly eight years. We each play a very specific role in our amazing little gang that was born out of piss taking and an ability to pack a way a sizeable amount of wine.

Kate – Sarah – Hannah –  Me – Laura

Then 18 months ago one of us jumped ship. The sarcastic, level headed and arguably biggest lush of the pack, packed up and buggered off. Her life in a backpack, off she headed on a trip of a lifetime.

‘It’s only a year, it will fly by’ we all told ourselves whilst choking back tears and gin in a bar in November 2012. Nothing will change, and we’ll keep her up to date on EVERYTHING we’re doing.

Eight new jobs, a new flat, some failed relationships and several changes in hairstyle later, our fifth arm landed back on Friday. It would be fair to say, that in parts, we were all apprehensive.

What if things had changed too much? What if we didn’t have as much in common anymore? What if she talks in a dodgy accent now? OH GOD – she’s not on the group What’sApp!

Walking up the stairs in Kate’s flat, that Hannah had yet to visit, sporting a hair do that Hannah was yet to see, coming from my new job that Hannah was yet to hear about, I had butterflies equivalent to those on a first date.

I bowled into the front room, screeching her surname and in a bleary eyed hug, the last 18 months disappeared.

Tens of bottles of wine, dozens of cuddles and a pizza later, we sat at the window at 6am watching the sun come up. A double vision stare across the strewn bodies on the floor and drink debris, it struck me. She could have been gone 18 years, and yes things change, but our little gang hasn’t.

Us five are the best of friends. And you know that people are your best mates when;

– Every time they’ll order two pizzas, one with and one without mushrooms. They know you have a thing about mushrooms but can never remember if it’s that you love them or loathe them. So they’ll spend an extra twelve quid just in case.

– You meet up with them just because. Not because it’s payday, not because it’s a birthday, but just because. You no doubt saw them 48 hours previously, but you’ll spend the entire evening gas bagging.

– They are your biggest fans and biggest critics. They will speak you up and boast about how epic you are to colleagues and friends of friends. However, the minute you drop the ball and behave like a fool, they will sit you down and rip an almighty strip off of you. They’ll get up, buy you a glass of wine, and say no more about it.

– One of you calls the other sobbing. They arrive, often from nowhere, in the pub nearest work or in a cab outside your flat. They sit. They listen. They get you pissed.

– They rally round when shit gets serious. Albeit just for an hour, the sarcastic quips and one line put downs stop. They give epic advice and all offer to take a day off work to help you when you really need it. You decline the offer. Because you obviously know they’ve got a deadline.

– They’ve all seen you near enough fully naked.

– You’ve all held each others hair when being sick. All done the water run when crying. All left a night much earlier than you ever wanted and before you swapped numbers with the guy you’re pretty sure you were going to marry, because one of the others is being a liability.

– One of you starts the night beginning to tell a story about something that happened at work. By 10pm, the story still isn’t finished because you spend your entire lives going off on a tangent.

– You have other mates that you love spending time with. But none of them really ever come up to par. When new friends come into your life, you feel like they need to meet the little gang to gain a seal of approval. It’s rare that they get it.

– You are incredibly rude to each other. Near enough all of the time. Because it’s funny.

– You know absolutely everything about the others. From family health history to toilet habits. And every embarrassing sexual encounter in between.

– You sit in silence for hours on holiday. You communicate purely in grunts. One grunt ‘ Go to the bar’. Two grunts ‘I’m going for a nap’.  Three grunts ‘Are we staying here for dinner tonight, or going out?’

– Money is always owed left right and centre. Tickets, cabs, rounds.  It gets to the stage that anything under £30 no longer counts.

– You still never know what to buy them for Christmas.

– You can spot within 30 seconds when they are wearing something new. You get a bit put out that they forgot to mention it. You know you’ll end up borrowing it.

– On occasion they drive you completely nuts. But you wouldn’t change them for the world. And yes, you can spend days, months, years apart. But eventually, you’ll all be back, sitting round a table, drinking and eating and still taking the piss about what actually happened on that night out in Kingston, that you vowed never to speak of again! 

LL x

Hangovers

On Friday afternoon at 1.20pm I turned the ripe old age of 25. I can no longer class myself as ‘in my early twenties’, and if I was to enter X Factor this year, I would be in the overs’ category. Sad times.
Fortunately, I share my pain with one of best friends who celebrates her birthday just 3 days before mine. And yes…that does make her older, which I am very happy about.
To celebrate the fact that we were now ticking the next box along on application forms, we decided to head out on Friday night for a few drinks with friends. A few friends turned into 30 odd people over taking the garden in our local. A few drinks turned into jaeger bombs by the dozen and dancing around like we were being stung by cattle props until the wee small hours.
At 5am, I walked home to bird song and relished in the fact that it was probably the best birthday we’d had yet. I was giddy, excitable and convinced that I was actually quite sober.
Then Saturday morning arrived and my dear god. I felt every single one of my 25 years and struggled to keep my eyes open. It was then that I knew I couldn’t blame this on tiredness, over exertion or a dodgy burger.
You always know that it’s a hangover when;
– You wake to discover you’ve been mugged. Except, strangely said criminals didn’t take your phone, house keys, purse or £100 handbag. Just your cash. And all of it at that.
– You find cash point receipts from 4am. A good six miles away from where your night started and a good ten miles away from where you live.
– You find it acceptable to drink Diet Coke. From the can. Whilst still in bed. You even try to drink it whilst laying down.
– You begin having really negative thoughts about the friends you have known and loved for years. They are almost certainly responsible for this fall out and definitely pinned you down and poured the gin down your neck against your will.
– You finally get out of bed to discover that your legs have been replaced by cotton wool.
– It takes twelve text messages, three Google searches and the hiring of an MI5 agent to determine how you got home. And even when you’ve been rest assured that you got a cab, you still don’t remember it.
– Your day is made up of the following, repeated sequence.
Lay – Flashback – Cringe – Weep .
– The only things you can manage to eat are beige. And are carb heavy. Basically all you can muster is toast. Dry toast.
– Your thighs ache like there’s no tomorrow. It takes until 4pm for you to realise the cause of said injury was you showing off how many lunges you can do whilst at the bar. To the guy you’d only just been introduced to.
– You go to the mirror and look at your reflection with genuine shock that your head isn’t actually in a wheel clamp.
– You search around your room too determine what item of clothing had vodka spilt all over it so you can dispose of it immediately as the smell is making you gag. You soon come to realise that the smell is, in fact, you.
– You wake to find a Hansel and Gretel style trail of your clothes from the bathroom to your room. You remember thinking you were being very time effective by doing the ‘undress walk’ down the corridor the night before.
– You drink water like you’ve never seen it before. You begin contemplating running away for a hot affair with the tap because it’s the only thing in the whole house that’s making you feel better at this point.
– You try and call your best mate for a debrief of the night before. You realise that you can’t speak in full sentences.
– You have a rounded understanding that the only thing that will make you feel better and back on form is another drink. You think about it. Sometimes you do it. Sometimes you go hell for leather and go out again. And on Sunday morning, this sorry bloody list begins again.
LL x 
 

The Way To Spot A Londoner

“You mean, you were actually born here?”
The words that every actual Londoner who is still living and working in this damn town has grown so accustomed to hearing.
It seems shocking to many that somebody didn’t actually want to flee their place of birth the minute they obtained a national insurance number.
For 6 years I have worked with people predominantly ‘non-London’. I’ve grown used to requests to “run up the apple and pears to make a Rosie Lee” as well as frequent references to my very cockney accent (for starters I’m from South London – distinct difference. Secondly, we are in London so who’s got the accent mate?!)
Whilst explaining to somebody that, whilst the pie & mash cliché is funny for some, it is actually what I’m having for dinner (and I’m not being ironic), it dawned on me that people who are non-Londoners may need a checklist. A checklist of  symptoms and “what to looks fors” to help spot if somebody is actually from London.
Here’s my first draft;
– The speed in which the person in question walks will differ greatly from that of a non-Londoner. It’s known as “GetOutOfMyWayMotherLover” speed and is just shy of a jog. London born females can achieve this speed in a heel of approximately four inches. And when pissed.
– A true Londoner will still think to look in the Evening Standard for a job, and remembers when you had to pay for the paper. And when it was better than it is now.
– They will always make their Oyster card accessible prior to leaving the office/home/gym. The sight of a backed up barrier or ‘transport virgins’ bambling about in stations will result in something known as “Red Rage”.
– This person will never have been to Nobu or similar. They will deem restaurants with a four week waiting list as ‘ponsey’. The same applies to Mayfair clubs that require a minimum spend for a table. Londoners will also rarely queue for a bar/club. Only in the event of a close friend’s (non-Londoner, obviously) mile stone birthday.
– They will call it the West End. Not ‘up London’.
– They will call it the pictures. Not ‘grabbing a film’.
– The will call it indoors. Not ‘at home’.
– They will have been brought up around blokes who have an argument about who’s paying first and who cannot tolerate a stand back. They will have been brought up to instantly judge anyone who is not quick to get up the jump*.
 *jump being the bar.
– A Londoner will often use the word ‘fuck’ as an adjective or a filler in an everyday sentence.
– They will not be fazed by the ‘C’ word. In some cases they will use it affectionately. A major symptom of true Londoner-itus can be spotted if they answer the phone to their dearest friend by calling them the C word. See ‘Hello you ol’ C’ for reference.
– The person in question will, under no circumstances, be able to achieve a ‘Lambeth Walk’ and may only know one single verse to ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’. They will pronounce it Muvva.
– Only a small majority of these real Londoners are actually related to a Pearly King or Queen. It’s not advised to start any conversation with ‘So, is your uncle a Pearly King then?’.
– They will call everyone mate. Boss/Bus Driver/Grandparent. They will call you mate even if they don’t like you. They will call you mate even in the middle of an argument. See ‘Alright mate, let’s take this outside’ for reference.
– This person will be very adverse to moving to the opposite side of the river from which they were born. Only in extreme cases, falling in love or needing to flee a sticky situation, will cause this to happen. They will be the one person in the cab who will not object when the cab driver says ‘don’t go South of the River, mate’. They will understand.
– They will have grown up in a pub surrounding. If their dad or uncle didn’t own one, someone’s best mate did and they would have spent EVERY Sunday there. This will also be the place that their first big tele came from.
– The person in question will not understand why people would choose to live in Bethnal Green or go out for the evening in Dalston. This even applies to people who were born in Bethnal Green and Dalston.
– They will mock when the neighbourhood they grew up in becomes trendy. When the market turns into a ‘village’, when the pubs start holding artisan fairs and when they open a Waitrose. They will mock, and also thank the sweet baby Jesus as they are now safe in the knowledge that the two-up- two-down they bought in 1975 is now worth a million pounds.
– If the person is a true Londoner they will understand the distinct difference between a night out and a beano.
‘Babe, I’m going for a night out with the boys’. ‘Cool, see you tomorrow’.
‘Babe, I’m going on a beano from the pub’. ‘Cool, see you a week Tuesday’.
And last but not least, the one fail safe way of spotting a true, born & bred Londoner.
They will be the only person in your central London office who will point blank refuse to drink Yorkshire Tea.
Oh.
And there will probably only be one of them.
LL x