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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Still Got It...

My best friendship grew from a womb of white wine and poppers. It was born into a loving home of Friday nights that became Saturday mornings, of charging around festivals and congratulating each other on our successful love child – fun. Fun, our baby, grew bigger and better with every passing year. We were very good at fun. If I close my eyes and think back on all the fun we’ve had, moment upon moment of mischievousness, snogging and secret meetings in bath tubs (where we discussed the merits of opening another bottle) fill my mind. Because my best friend and I knew how to party. We were experts.

Yes, there were the bad times too – we’re not just good-time friends. She’s my go-to bird in times of distress and calamity. She’s my soul sister.

But this isn’t about the hard times. It’s about the fun.

The early days of our friendship were a heady whirlwind of hedonism. I don’t know where we put it, but my god did we put it away. One evening, for example, my best friend and I arrived at a pub called the Severn Shed, of Bristol, for a glass of wine. It’s actually more of a really posh restaurant, but for us it was to serve one purpose and one purpose only – wine guzzling.

‘Why don’t we go on a pub crawl and have a glass of wine in each pub?’ Cesca asked, flagging down the handsome wine servant.

‘How about a bottle in each pub?’ I said. We did so love to up the ante.

Fast forward eight pubs and eight bottles and I had made friends with some identical twin men, but could not remember which one I was snogging, while Cesca was blazing a trail of destruction, knocking over entire tables of beer while articulating what was no doubt a really good point. We left many broken glasses and broken hearts in our wake.

That was about six years ago. Cesca has just celebrated her 29th birthday and things are a bit quieter these days. She’s married, I’m engaged, we don’t live together anymore, we try not to drink as heavily. We go to yoga classes and at a festival this summer, it pains me to admit we didn’t even get drunk on the Sunday night. My goodness. The gods of fun were looking down upon us with thunder in their eyes. We were disappointing them and I knew it.

So I invited Cesca on a birthday date. We would go back to the Severn Shed and see if, six years on, we could still have as much fun. It was a loaded invitation – neither of us want to get boring, neither of us want to admit we’re not as mad cap as we once were. We had something to prove to ourselves. Or at least, I did. Cesca is probably much more at peace with sobriety than I am.

We arrived and refused to even look at the menu until we’d polished off a bottle of champagne. Two stark differences to six years ago already – 1) this time we ate and 2) this time we looked at the wine list and picked a posh champagne. Last time was more an eating’s cheating philosophy, barking orders for a bottle of the finest house white.

We mostly talked about our weddings. Cesca, the wise old sage, has had one, so could bestow upon me advice and caution. I am gearing up to mine and so wish to talk about little else and Cesca is one of few people I don’t feel guilty banging on about it to. She took that one for the team when she accepted the role of Chief Bridesmaid.

The wine flowed, so we’re still fun. But did we snog any twins? Did we go on a pub crawl? No, we decided that if fate would have a taxi passing by just as we left, we'd get in and go home. And there was one, so we did.

But wait – before you give up on us, writing us off as past it and better suited to the Women’s Institute than the Institute of Advanced Fun, we weren’t in our slippers drinking hot chocolate by midnight. We stopped off at Cesca’s local for a nightcap.

Here we were served our booze in a brilliant glass. The kind you want in your glass cupboard. The kind my magpie eyes soon had in their sights. The kind to steal, yes.

Now, I’m not proud of it, but back in the day I was a glass thief. Alcohol made me do it. And tonight was no exception. I declared that if we were to be even a patch on our younger selves, we better steal those glasses and run home wildy.

So we did. We even escaped through a gap in the hedge in the pub garden, Jack Bauer style, so as not to have to walk the walk of shame through the pub. I think I might have even done a roly poly.

Job done, I say. We’re still cool.

The next day I got a text message from my best friend, the former hell raiser.

‘Thanks for a great night. I’ve just taken the glasses back to the pub. Luckily they saw the funny side.’

That’s right. Where once we were hooligans, thieves and trouble makers, now, we dutifully return stolen goods the next day and order nice wine over dinner.

Now would be the time to make a poetic point about how much richer our lives are these days. We're older and wiser. We had something missing from our souls before, and alcohol filled that void. Balderdash! Allow me to pimp out Cesca for a night on the tiles with you and you'll soon see what all the fuss is about. If I could have my way our full time jobs would be to party together.

But as we reluctantly enter the next chapter of our lives, with fine wines, productive Saturdays and god, maybe even children, at least we can be safe in the knowledge that we had more than our fair share of fun.

And just to keep the spice alive, I’ll be encouraging my kids to steal glasses from pubs but Auntie Cesca will be allowed to return them. After all, there is fun, and then there is just plain stealing.

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