So…a recent request to, *ahem* “Enhance”, my (almost) famous brownies has reminded me of a story that I haven’t told before.
I was working as an IT contractor in Cardiff. This was in the run up to Y2K. For those of you that don’t remember, Y2K was a potential disaster. Planes were going to fall out of the sky, power stations were going to explode, nuclear reactors would lose control, the tills in McDonalds would make every order a Fillet O’ Fish.
The world, in short, was going to come to a rapid and abrupt end. All because of the little issue of computer dates being stored with a 2 digit year. Personally, I wasn’t concerned about the world ending, but I was not above milking the issue for all it was worth. Hence, I was working for a bank in Cardiff, replacing all of their computer systems with the new fangled 4 digit year based ones and my bank balance with a few more digits again.
This meant a lot of time away from home, living in a B&B all week. Now, when I wasn’t submitting invoices with totals that most people thought were my phone number, I was partying….hard…in Cardiff. We were a fairly small group that were all
fleecing reasonably charging the bank for our efforts and Cardiff can be quite the party town. So, we partied. A lot.
A few stories spring to mind. but I do have a couple of faves. The first of which revolves around AJ. AJ is (we lost touch unfortunately) a top top top fella. A good laugh and a genuine person.
AJ had, however, 2 minor flaws. #1 His love for the weed and #2 His love for the Vauxhall Calibra. Now, #1 is not really a flaw and I will get into that later, but #2 is where we are right now.
He decided, after putting in an invoice for about 4 hours work, to use that money and buy himself his dream car. A Vauxhall Calibra 4×4 2.0 Turbo. Full leather everything, all the mod cons of the time and more power than a powery thing with power written on it.
Now the problem with leather seats is that they are shiny and often a bit on the slidey side. We had been bowling for the evening (I know, living the high life right) and AJ had insisted on taking the car. CP had called shotgun and so I ended up in the back seat. I don’t fully recall the reason, but I did not have my seat belt on. Maybe it was faulty, maybe I was just being a moron, but whatever the reason, I was not strapped in when I really should have been.
After a period of mockery over AJs car decision making skills from both myself and CP, AJ was determined to demonstrate the power of this beast. It was quite late and we were on the Newport Road, which is both long and straight (ladies!). AJ floored it. The car reacted as though it had, indeed, been floored. And shot off like your bowels the morning after a particularly vicious lentil curry. I was forced back into my seat and the lack of a seat belt was no longer an issue worth contemplating. The problem with Newport Road, however, is that as you get closer to the city center, it stops being straight and, in fact, goes into a single lane sharp (75 degree’ish) left turn. AJ saw the turn up ahead and started to slow down. That said, we are at this point, doing around 95Mph with the turn rapidly approaching. AJ braces himself for what is coming, CP grabs the door handle and braces himself. My problem in the back seat became quickly apparent. Not only was I not strapped in, there were no rear doors (and therefore no handles).
Thinking quickly, I lay across the back seat and tried to brace my back against the side of the car with my feet pressed as hard as possible into the other side of the car. I felt secure. I felt confident. These feelings were misplaced. AJ had managed to get the car down to around 50Mph at the moment the sharp left could no longer be avoided.
I have to say, I will be forever impressed with that Calibra. It stuck to the road like glue, flew around the sharp turn, stayed on the road and (most importantly) didn’t kill us or anyone else. That’s when AJ started laughing so hard he had to stop the car to compose himself. CP was, understandably confused. When called upon to explain the reason for his mirth, AJ described what he had seen in his rear view mirror at the moment we hit the turn. Basically, he had checked the mirror as we started to turn and had seen my head lurch from one side of the mirror, very quickly, to the other side and then a split second later my head was replaced by my feet. CP turned around to see me, on the opposite side of the car from where I had started….upside down and trying to right myself, whilst crying hysterically with laughter. Ahh fun times.
Now, that story popped into my head whilst I was thinking of #1 from the AJ book of flaws (if you want to call them that).
So AJ was good friends with a certain plant that is known for it’s relaxing properties. CP and I on the other hand were, at best, on polite nodding terms with it. This meant that tolerances were a little different. We decided to give it a go and AJ, being AJ, made us one of his usuals. We devolved rapidly into a giggling mess and headed back to our B&B where we decided to continue along the path we had chosen, whilst watching whatever was on the TV.
I remember this vividly, it was the first screening of the first episode of “The League of Gentlemen”. The town of Royston Vasey was there is all of it’s technicolour bizzareness for us, as relaxed as we were, to enjoy. For any of you that have watched this show without “assistance”, it is fantastic. Funny and Dark…typical British Humour at it’s finest. If you haven’t watched the show, stop reading this immediately and go and watch it. You will love it. Veterinarians, Job Centers, Taxi Cabs and Frog Enthusiasts will never be the same again. With “assistance” it is downright dangerous. If we were giggling before the show, we were close to being hospitalised during it. 30 minutes of laughing so much that we could barely breathe and crying with laughter so we could barely see each other, let alone the TV. Now that I come to think of it, it could well be the reason that I love the show so much.
The show finishes (not that we noticed) and eventually, CP decides to head to his room next to mine and get ready for bed (we did have to work the next morning). Still giggling and trying to brush his teeth. It was that moment that I chose to quote something from the show. I would love to say I remember what I quoted, it was most likely something innocuous like “Mickey Love” “Yes Pauline”.
I could hear that CP started choking. The trouble was, I couldn’t move. The ridiculous noises that he was making started me laughing again. He stopped choking and, about 10 minutes later, was able to explain that the quote I had made had set him off again…the problem was that he was in the middle of brushing his teeth, almost swallowed his toothbrush and spat toothpaste all over the wall/sink/mirror. I think I was still giggling when I woke up the next morning.
So, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not dangerous…it nearly killed CP :-P