Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Journey

We'd never been abroad before. Never been out of the valley much. School trips to Lowther Wildlife Park and one trip with College to London. Fucking mental London, came back wondering how anyone could live there. We were not backward, just hadn't seen much life. I was 18 and my mate was 17, he was waiting for his exam results and I'd got a job as an apprentice welder in a bus depot. Don't fucking laugh, there were even fewer jobs then than there are now. I was on £35 a week, but lived at home - his mam and dad had a bit more money than mine but it was still quite a lot to ask - can we go on holiday?  We were open minded and a bit mental - try anything. We wanted to go abroad.
His mam came down the Travel Agents with us. It was funny looking back - she actually picked the destination because she thought it looked a bit more upmarket. She paid for us both on her credit card and I went to the Bradford & Bingley, withdrew my share and handed over grubby fivers and tenners.
Going abroad then was totally different. No mobiles, emails, phones didn't really work, you were basically off grid for a fortnight and good luck. I remember smoking on the plane - fucking crazy when you think about it, the fucking plane having ashtrays. It all seemed really glamorous. When we landed I got out and the fucking heat hit me, I thought it was the plane's engines or something.  We were in a great hotel and she's done full-board (not all inclusive, that was a concept that had yet to arrive). The travel agent had suggested full board because "at least they will not starve if they run out of money". 
We were good looking back then. You are when you are 18. The first night we were in a pub and this bird just said "come with us down the beach". So I did. Fucking hell, eye-opener. But to be honest, that just paled into insignificance when we made the discovery that changed our lives.
We were doing the usual touristy stuff - you know, straw hats, football on the beach, getting a tan. The third night in I saw a woman crying in the corner of a bar in a nice part of town. She looked like Goldie Hawn, she must have been in her forties. She looked fit. I asked her if she was OK and we got talking - she was English, she'd been robbed of her purse by some kids on a motorbike - it happened a lot. I bought her a drink, she ordered the speciality of the area and I had one as well. She liked us. We were sweet. She told us about the place, it's history. It was nice.  Her boyfriend turned up, he didn't look like good news, big fucker, mean looking. He seemed angry like we'd been trying to hit on her, she told him what had happened and that we'd looked after her - he calmed down and was really nice. He asked us what we were doing later. "Nowt" we said and he laughed, said it again "Nowt" - he was a cockney.  He said he knew a club and it was brilliant - good mix of locals and tourists, great music, very very different vibe.
They picked us up from the hotel, "bit late to be going out" was what we were thinking. He was with a bloke with a giant afro and Goldie Hawn. We went out on the main road and ended up in this huge open-air nightclub.  It was amazing. Everyone seemed so happy. The music was lovely - all pianos and strings. Nobody was pissed, they all seemed just...happy.
"Listen boys" says the cockney. "I'll get you a drink but if you really want to experience this, then you need to join us with one of these". He brought two little pills out of his pocket. He put one in his mouth and chucked it back. He snapped the other in half and nodded. I looked at Goldie Hawn, she smiled and nodded. We shrugged and necked them.  The Club was Amnesia. The Island was Ibiza. The year was 1987. The real journey had begun.


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