If you’d gone down to the woods last night, you’d have been sure of a big surprise. Assuming they were woods in Vietnam and you’d had the misfortune of running into my naked friend P.
You would have seen me also, because I was sitting in those woods too. I was in the middle of an almost circle of 14 friends. If you’d been half hidden behind a tree you would have seen us, surrounded by discarded empty bottles and heavenly-cherished full ones.
You’d have seen me happy too. In front of me was just about everything I generally ever need. A glass of something alcoholic, a cigarette and a i-pod with a fairly decent speaker attached.
From your hiding place, you wouldn’t have heard me. I sat listening mostly. I don’t wish to be the centre of attention, don’t like to tell long stories. I prefer to sit, and listen and lose myself a little.
Also, the music was really loud.
It was because of me. I was the amateur DJ. It isn’t easy to pick songs to please 13 people, but as someone with a sometimes crippling need to please, I did my best.
I kept it eclectic. Some Desmond Dekker , Beirut, Ernie K-Doe, Metronomy. Some classics – Lou Reed, The Kinks, Curtis Mayfield and some crowd pleasers, Elbow, Dizzee Rascal. Oh, and always, always Azealia Banks.
Every so often someone would break from their conversation to shout out to me, “Oh, I love this one!” or “This is really good, who is it?” And I would smile and realise how simply and easily I can be made to feel happy.
As I got happily, quietly drunk our friend P sank himself to new depths. Notorious for his alcohol induced idiocy, last night he went too far.
It was fine when we swam in the river during the day, and he perched his ample frame upon a rock in mermaid pose. Less Copenhagen, more coping badly. But by evening he had drank too much, and was refusing to stop. He became maudlin, and then aggressive, all the time demanding of attention.
And then he accidentally fell through one of the tents. Twice.
Having insulted several, he blundered off into the woods. As genuine and kind-hearted as he is while sober, you would have recoiled at the sight of him.
Three of us set off in pursuit, and for 3 hours we wandered around, blindly calling his name. We didn’t find him, and it wasn’t until five in the morning that he returned, naked, and accompanied by two German shepherds.
By which I mean the breed of dog, not a couple of professional sheep handlers from Munich.
P collapsed into sleep and the dogs ran off. At some point, while we cleaned up, he must have woken and left.
His nocturnal misadventures remain largely unknown, although a couple of our friends did find the women’s shower had been used as a toilet.
He’s done similar things before, but always remembers nothing. Too often in retelling him we’ve treated his antics as a joke, as amusing anecdotes.
He knows he is bad, but he doesn’t know how much. As a group of friends we’ve decided to tell P exactly what he did and that it was not funny. That he has a problem that needs to be fixed. That he cannot drink. It’s the harder thing to do, but we wouldn’t be friends if we didn’t do it.
And I came home to a message from G. She’s flown again and landed in my hometown in the UK, my hometown being not so far from hers. And I feel sad that she isn’t here. And I’m finding life harder without her presence. But life, like rivers and German shepherds, has to run on.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”
~ Anne Frank ~