Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leaving Party

Well, eventually it turned out OK, with 9 or 10 friends showing up to send me off, including all the most important of 'the usual suspects' - The Chairman, The Choirboy, The Mouthpiece Of Evil, The Weeble.

Early evening, though, it had threatened to be the most disastrous fizzle. Some of my 'friends' had failed to reply to my text-message summons at all; those that had replied had invariably done so in exasperatingly vague terms - "Oh, yeah, sounds good. I'll hook up with you at some point." No-one had given me a specific time when they would join me. No-one had responded to my suggestion for dinner. The Weeble claimed that he had not received any of my messages on the subject (bloody i-Phones!); and references to it in our recent conversations had evidently been erased from his brain by late nights and alcohol.

And then my first suggested rendezvous misfired because - for who knows what reason - my beloved 12 Square Metres was not open. I had to resort instead to the adjacent Dida Café - where the Vietnamese family who run the place were just about to have their supper. Their beers have just been raised in price from 10 kuai (as I believe they were when we started our great Nanluoguxiang Bar Crawl there a couple of months back) to 15 (still not outrageous, but....); and I had briefly got excited about the availability of stubby bottles of the local Yanjing beer - but in fact there was only one left, so I then had to make do with crappy old Tsingtao (only my second falling-from-grace on this aspect of my pledge to live cheaply in the month of June).

So, I sat up on their roof-deck - which I had all to myself - and looked down on the rumbling traffic of Dianmen Dongdajie, and contemplated my imminent escape from China, and waited for someone to join me. And waited. And waited. And waited.

I was there on my own for well over an hour before The Chairman finally showed up, and I had been starting to feel very glum.

At least the experience gave rise to a memorable text message (sent out to taunt my tardy drinking companions):
"The nice Vietnamese lady just took pity on my friendlessness and gave me a TREBLE Jack Daniel's for 20 kuai!"

Three large measures, that was. It might well have been something like 4 or 5 standard pours: the glass was very nearly brimful! I have no idea why she was so generous, and I did try to dissuade her. That drink took me ages to finish..... and tipped me over into a frisky, foolish, elated state of drunkenness which I managed to maintain for the next 8 hours or so.

A fine way to prepare for a 12-hour flight the next morning......

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