Last weekend I ventured the furthest north that I have ever traveled within this United Kingdom. Travelling up to Newcastle for one of my best friends stag do’s was an interesting experience; I had never gone to Newcastle before, and was aware that some of the nights out there can get a little out of hand. Couple this six hour trip north with people I had never met before, but were thankfully truly awesome guys, and I was trepidatious over how the weekend would unfold.
Things were liable to get a little too wild once the booze had been poured and bullshit testosterone flared up needlessly, something I was acutely aware of, especially due to some of the more (and this is me being generous) combustible elements within Jamie’s sizeable (22) entourage.
What I didn’t know, however, was how highly regarded the city was for stag do’s and hen parties; it seemed every other group your eyes might glide over was some sort of group there for the same reason as you: spend money, get loose, and have fun. Newcastle had a great vibe, filled as it was with people I wouldn’t normally hang out with: lads.
Lads everywhere. The boozy, loud, obnoxious, ‘WHEEEEY’, lads. Annoying, grating, arrogant, lads.
These next few days may be more difficult than I had initially thought.
Turns out that if you want to go anywhere within Newcastle’s nightlife, then nice shirts (even wrestling themed ones) and awesome sneakers weren’t going to fly. Some of the higher class pubs were cool with it, but if we were to go out to clubs, ‘clubs’, and high class establishments, then the regular Steve outfit wasn’t going to cut it.
Thankfully I was prefaced with this fact months before committing. The best man, an awesome dude who organised a great weekend, was adamant about this rule, engrained into me as though it were a commandment decreed from on high by the man himself: thou shalt bring shirts and shoes.
Shirts and shoes? Me?
Jamie is lucky I consider himself to be one of my very best friends. I didn’t drop £’x’ to be in Newcastle to just stay at home, so having to drop even more coin on new shirts was an annoying fate I simply had to resign myself to. That’s a common problem with losing weight: nothing fucking fits you anymore. (/humblebrag). I still had a pair of shoes I had bought years ago for a TV show I was apart of at University, and so fell back onto using those scruffy monstrosities. My girlfriends step dad however is quite particular with shoes, and offered to clean them for free, spending 20 minutes (!!) per shoe, buffering them into a condition so clean and shiny you would have thought they were brand new.
Prep’d with the necessary costume to fit in with the surrounding mass of laddy humanity, I became what I usually dislike so much: a shirt jerk. Or #shirtjerk, if you will.
To say I felt uncomfortable is an understatement. I felt so acutely aware that I was in a shirt and shoes that felt unfitted, looked weird and, simply, wasn’t ‘me’. But, hey, these are the things you do for friends. You owe me one, Jamie!
Regardless of this, I was able to relax and have a good time. The clubs we went to played shit music, and the gentleman (nodnodwinkwink) clubs we frequented had girls who flocked like buzzards incessantly hawking for business, but thankfully they all sold my two drinks of choice for the weekend: Jaegerbombs and Red Bull.
I’m not a massive drinker by any stretch of the imagination, and a few beers has me all tingly headed and bound to wake up with stitches in my back, surrounded in a bath of ice. Jaegerbombs however always brings with it the promise of balance between sweet alcohol and a caffeine punch; when I was drinking, I pounded a few of these and was able to make make friends with the majority of the people within our group who I had only just met (out of the 22, I knew Jamie very well, and about 3 other people on a cursory basis. That’s a lot of dude to not know) Couple that with the Red Bulls I would sink, and I was buzzing off a great mix of caffeine floating adrift on a sea of alcohol.
Not even the grating catch phrase, spouted with die hard repetition by numerous dudes within the group, of “Do you want some do ya?” wasn’t enough to turn me off the weekends proceedings which extended to long nights out, six hour car drives with near enough total strangers, and video game themed hijinks (see left, shortly – no pun intended – before he was handcuffed to a hired little person, dressed as Mario).
It’s always an awkward experience, having a close friendship with an amigo and then suddenly realising that you will become the outside element to the long standing, tight knit, camaraderie between a large band of brothers you are not apart of. Some of the dudes were more welcoming than others, some where more annoying than others, and with some not more than two words passed between us, but it wasn’t about them, and it wasn’t about me, we were all there for one common denominator: make sure Jamie had fun, and from what I can tell that was a mission accomplished, despite the ending of the last night featuring him sitting in the corner, drunkenly clapping along to songs by himself, which stills cracks me up when I think about it.
Everyone may have been imbibing in inordinate amounts of booze, dancing the night away and ‘chirpsing’ (read: chatting to) numerous girls, but I’ll always remember hanging out in the corner, talking with, and then watching this drunken monkey like figure, one of my best friends, delighting in how to make noise by slapping his hands together.