It is 2.38pm, as I begin writing this entry and I am going to find it difficult to put into words the events of the past three days. I know there are a stack of photos (okay, “stack” might be exaggerating it a little, quite a few) on my N73, Nikon CoolPix and bits of paper I need to capture to just start the process of piecing together the weekend. It will be an uphill struggle, but I am ready for challenge. Time to jump into our time machine and roll back the clock. Destination Friday early evening. I thought Dave was going to arrive around 9pm but he actually called in around 2pm to say he was in Wycombe and would be over at 6.30pm. He arrived an hour earlier, calling me to get directions to my house. His brother, Stewart had turned right down Miersfield. I explained where to go and within a minute he was outside my door (even though he had forgotten the house number!). I am trying to remember the last time he was at my house but it must have been more than fourteen years ago. He had a big black Adidas hold all and man bag! Was he sure he was just staying for two nights? (Bear with me, as I referred to my extensive blog notes, made at 3.30am this morning!) We spent the evening, chilling in my room, catching up and watching Hollyoaks. I think it me posing my usual Friday night on Dave, but I am sure he did not mind. He spent most of the time on the phone to Lisa and his parents. At 7.30pm, after the E4 first look episode of Hollyoaks, we headed into the lounge to catch up, fill in the half hour before Eastenders and dinner. At 9pm, we headed over to TGI Friday’s. As expected, it was quite busy but unknown to me (as I had not been in this American themed bar and restaurant since my 18th birthday back in late November 1999!) it does not have a late licence and closes at 11pm. While we were having a few drinks and chatting an Asian gentleman, in his mid thirties bumped into Dave. He overly apologised and then suddenly became our best friend, shaking hands with both of us. As he disappeared back to the bar, I commented to Dave that he always picks up the weirdos. He thought he was gonna start on him and was getting to smash his bottle on the table to have a weapon! Wycombe is bad but not that bad, is it? I would find out in less than twenty four hours. We walked back to the house, as we were the restaurant started to cleared and closed. As we got home, my Dad arrived. The last time had seen Dave was when he took us to Slough (with Waheed) at the then Virgin Cinema to see The Shadow back in November 1994. Nearly thirteen years ago! It was nearly 1am. I went on my laptop and we did some checking up on FaceBook to see if there were any last minute takers to the reunion and searched for a few more people whom we thought we could invite. No joy on either front. We feel asleep around 1.30am, with texting Lisa for a while before nodding off. Day Two, the first full day of the DJ weekender. My alarm went off at 8am, but I ignored it, switching off the phone and got up at 9am, when my Mum woke up. Dave had been awake for a while, texting of course! We got ready, cleared the lounge ready for breakfast. After a quick shower, we got ready and headed out of the house. First stop, Havenfield Road. This is where Dave used to live, all those days ago. We drove across because I was being lazy and if we had walked, it would have meant having a bad seat for the football in the pub. Yes, but these things are important. After taking a few photographs, we drove back to the house, Dave picked up his mobile and we walked up the road to the bus stop (town bound) on the Cressex Link. The 100 was due at 10:52 and it was on time (we saw the bus come from town up to the Park & Ride area opposite the Empire Cinema (formerly The Filmworks, formerly UCI, formerly Wycombe Six). I was going to get two adult returns but it worked out cheaper to get a family ticket for £2. The bus was busy as expected with many OAPs making their weekend trip into the town centre. We got off opposite the library and walked around down the High Street. Dave wanted to reminisce and discover what else had changed in the town. We walked around for a while, going to Game and then GameStation. As it is Dave’s birthday on Monday, I got him FIFA08 for the XBOX360. Well worth shopping around for such items, even on the high street. After this, we walked through the Chilterns Shopping centre (to walk past HM Samuel) and onto the Litten Tree. It was relatively quiet, (before the storm?). We took a seat on the sofa opposite one of the screens and then ordered some food. It was perfecting timing, there was a mad rush soon afterwards. We watched all the build up from noon, with Dave an honorary Gooner for the afternoon. (Why support Palace in the first place, God knows!). However, I have to confess, the signs were not good. Every time I had seen a football match with Dave present, Arsenal had lost. This record begins back in October 1999, when Arsenal lost to Florentina, thanks to a goal from Batistuta. It was in fact, Wednesday 27th October 1999 (do you just not love Wikipedia!). I met up with Dave in the evening and we went to the Posthouse (as it was then) to watch the game. The next time was in April 2003. Saturday 26th April 2003 (mentioned briefly the following day in the archives!). We had lunch in the pub opposite Dave’s flat and they happened to be showing the match. However, I had to rush back home to get to Milton Keynes in the evening, so only caught the first half. The 2 all draw with Bolton at the Reebok effectively let us surrender the title back to Old Trafford. So here we were, over four years later for a vital clash of the titans. Would it be a case of third time lucky? For a change, I did not take in all the pre-match build up to the day. Normally I am reading every little article online and constantly watching Sky Sports News. This year, I was too busy with all those other things to concentrate on during the week. So I watched every second of the pre-match build up to kick off. Sky as usual were pulling out all the stops. Then, our lunch arrived, perfect timing. My prediction was 2-1 to the Gooners but DJ was over optimistic with 3-1, even naming scorers – Adebayor, Fabregas and Walcott. The match began, we were at the edge of our seats. The pub and filled up now. Not quite as full as it had been back on that Wednesday night in late June for the final World Cup Group Match against Sweden. For Dave this was a new experience, the atmosphere was electric compared to back home in Wrexham. There, I was told, you would just get five guys crowded around the one rather small television in a pub. Here there was a big mixture of Arsenal and Manchester United fans. (Slightly weighed in favour of the Northerners, if you ask me!). It was a great match, as we had hoped for, at times end to end stuff. The result was great and I was very happy for Gallas. I have not been his biggest fan since he came over (although was glad to get rid of Cole). For a chance he let his football do the talking and it reminded me of the goal he scored for Chelsea against arch rivals Tottenham when he too went and embraced the manager. You can read a full match report over on the Beeb, ArseBlog or The Cannon. After the match, we headed back into town, over to the bus station and waited for the next bus home. It was quarter past three, the reunion was closer than ever.
It had not been the plan, but with no one around to give us a lift and the bus service, not a viable option, I drove into town. We were late, as I was still getting my things together at ten to eight. I had a feeling we were going to be a little late but it did not matter. We parked the car over in George Street Car Park, when perhaps Dovecot would have been a better option. However, with all the construction work going on in that area, I opted to avoid rather than risk it, in place of a five minute walk. As we walked back, Lisa called, she was driving and on her way. As we walked to the town centre, I have to admit I felt a bit strange. Excited yes but nervous as well. Someone in the upper floors of the student halls of residence was blasting Sean Kingston’s Me Love.
I am shocked for having to include the following but I cannot lie. As we approached the Litten Tree, I passed the doorman and was asked for ID! I could not believe it! I even actually said to the bouncer, “You ARE kidding me? How young do I look? I’m 26 in three weeks time!” Begrudgingly I got out my driving licence. “Take it as a compliment” said his younger male colleague. I was told I looked between 20-21, perhaps I should have opted not to have a shave. When I eventually got inside, Lisa was already there. Dave was wondering where I had gone. A few minutes later, Liz walked through the door. The event was minutes old and we already had someone who had not confirmed their attendance. We went to sit down by the front of the pub by the window (so we could see other potential old school mates walk past). It was a bit surreal to begin with, as Dave kept repeating (throughout the night). I had not seen any of these people since 1994. So much can change in a year, how much do you think will change in thirteen?
About ten minutes later, Robin arrived. Then I got a text from Juliet, she was on her way from the Roundtable Bonfire Night in Terriers. She arrived before 9pm. We thought that was it, even though Stephen Mockett, had said he was definitely gonna make an appearance with his girlfriend. He did arrive, but fashionably late. In fact, I saw his M-Reg dark blue Ford Fiesta (Mark III) pull up and park opposite the pub. It was a from a photo on Facebook, that I knew he had dreads, so trying to recognise him was easy. He then strode into the joint, with Sam. Dave and me waited by the door to surprise him!
They played Glamourous by Fergie in the Litten Tree. Nothing unusual there, I hear you cry. Sure but listening to the song took me back to a sunny January afternoon. How much I wish I could go back to that near perfect moment. It is only now I realise the importance of the song last night. The video (which I just watched the intro again) begins in 1994. The same year that I left Lansdowne County Middle School. Freaky? Don’t you think?
We are all obviously getting old, because we decided to leave the Tree to go to the Falcon on the High Street as they do not play music. I felt a bit out of place in any case, because the crowd generally appeared to be people in their early twenties and I am sure I heard an announcement for a girl called Lisa turning 21. Maybe kids are just growing up too fast and keep their youthful looks. As we headed out, Dave was keen to grab a group photo outside the entrance to the Chiltern’s Shopping Centre. Poor light meant it did not come out very well. We trekked across town, it was quiet for a Saturday night. Perhaps the excesses of the Rugby World Cup had been catching up with people. Although I was hardly in a position to comment. This was the first time I had been out in Wycombe for over four years. (The last time was April 2003, when I pumped into several old school friends, in Time (Here & Now) as it was called then. Heading over to The Falcon, you could tell it was a quiet night. There were no bouncers outside the main entrance by the Guildhall. As we walked in, I was surprised to find it quite full and the bar packed with queues. I hunted for a table while the others went to the bar. I found a table free in the middle of the pub and got some free chairs around. Then the drinks arrived. This gave me a chance to speak to Robin. The most bizarre thing is I have been going to his house on a regular basis. He lives across from where I have my piano lessons. How strange is that? It was great when he asked me if I knew the Leapark Estate in Thame! As he works in genetics, we had to talk about Heroes and human evolution. Even considering that the DNA database was a bad thing and much better to sign everyone up to Facebook at birth. Stephen and Sam left just after 11.30pm. They had to get back and check on their kids. This was a revelation to Robin, who shouted across the bar, “You’ve got kids?!” Before shaking Mr. Mockett firmly by the hand! As the bell rang for final orders, we thought we had plenty of time. We were wrong. The pub closed at midnight and we were quickly told to finish our drinks and leave. The bar staff had disappeared cleaning the other side of the pub, while rude bouncers tried to get us to finish our drinks. They should not have sold them to us, if they were going to throw us out, ten minutes later. Robin tried to make small talk with the head bouncer, with the old story that he used to work here but he wasn’t having any of it and told him to finish his Guinness. Eventually we left and I think for the record were the last people to leave as they began closing up. We waited outside the pub as Liz and Juliet went to the RBS cash point. There was a tramp in the doorway of the bank, playing his harmonica. Robin, after disappearing for a call of nature returned to start speaking to him and inspected his vocal instrument. Eventually we left but not after Dave took several photos (and I joined in, as you can see below). Then, Mr. G made a comment that would stay with me for the rest of the weekend.
Pure. As we got around the corner of the Octagon Parade, Liz thought there was a big queue, but I quickly deduced it was just the smoking area outside. There was no queue! 🙂 We walked straight through, although Dave had to explain to the female bouncer why he was Welsh and English at the same time. In the end he narrowed it down to, I’m here from Wales, visiting! It was £6 to get in and then £1.50 for the cloakroom. I left my camera in my jacket, opting to use my N73 for the rest of the night. Once everyone had given in their jacket / coat / outdoor clothing, we headed upstairs to Pure. (Or is that Obsession? I have forgotten already!) Anyhow, it was busy, but Liz got the drinks in. Dave was ready to boogie and already busting some moves on the dance floor. We then headed downstairs and got a table by the window (again). There was a bloke opposite, completely spark out on the sofa. Here we chatted for a while before we lost Liz, only to find her talking to a friend at the bar. We had almost sent out a search party, dogs and helicopter. We then headed back upstairs to dance. Although we did not make it to the dance floor. They played a dance remix of Rihanna’s Umbrella but the girls had got out for a smoke, so we waited. Robin through his bottle of Beck’s onto the floor, right behind a bouncer. He was given a stern warning, even though he did try and talk himself out of it. The bottle was picked up and placed on the side table. To prove how wrecked Robin was, I took a photo while we had been downstairs.
PJ & Duncan – “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble”. You would think it could not get any worse but it did. The next song they played was the Hen Night classic, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life from ultimate chick flick Dirty Dancing. The small dance floor was packed, even with a few guys. I reluctantly chose to stop myself jumping on the dance floor as well. However, when Billie Jean came on, I was on my feet, although not on the dance floor itself (very close though). The night was winding down, as we said good bye to Robin and Lisa. About ten to fifteen minutes later the last four people standing (Dave, Juliet, Liz and Teg) were leaving too. We went to Dennis’s next door as Dave needed to get a kebab, before walking Liz back to her car in Dovecot and then walking back to my car in George Street. We got back home at exactly 3am.
Before going to bed, I scribbled down some notes, which I have been using to put together this entry. Before finally falling asleep at nearly 4am. However, the weekend did not end there, more punishment planned for Sunday. I should though, look back at the reunion. It was an outstanding success. Everyone had a good time and it was great to see everyone. It was strange to think nearly fourteen years had flown by but most of us were still around in the area (or in one special case still at school!). I look forward to helping organise the next reunion, which will be bigger and better. My photos have been uploaded to FlickR, plus there is a gallery from Pure online also (no pictures of any us I am afraid!)
On The Track
I parked my car for a maximum of three minutes outside Dave’s brother house. Blocking the drive way of his neighbour, sure but not for a long period of time. It was just to get the luggage out and then moved the car onto Stewart’s drive. I noticed a note had been left on my windscreen. Fantastic. A lovely way to start the day. At least my neighbours are not that bad, I would have killed several by now if that was the case.
Rogue Racing on the Stokelake Industrial Park in Aylesbury. It was my fourth time go-karting but birthday boy, Dave was a virgin. We had a thirty minute wait but eventually got onto the circuit. It was great fun, even though the track itself is quite simple, with a few turns and a bridge. Woodley (which I went to last year with work) is far more challenging and wider! However, it was a good laugh, Dave enjoyed himself and Stewart had a good time breaking two go-karts in the process.