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Friday, December 17

Promises, Promises

"Are you having a heavy one tonight?" Phil asked me on Tuesday evening at about 10 o'clock, as we strolled down to Amadeus for the final Tuesday night Erasmus party before Christmas.

The thing was, I was genuinely not planning to go all out and get smashed. Genuinely.

As things panned out, I eventually got back home at 5.30 on Wednesday afternoon. These things happen.

It all started off so well too. I didn't start drinking until gone 10 in the evening, which is a rarity for me. I was taking things slowly too, only drinking beer and not doing that too quickly, since I was talking to absolutely everyone in there.

Due to the fact that it was the last Amadeus party before we all went our separate ways for Christmas, it was rammed full of people I knew. I was chatting to Spanish friends, Italians, Swiss girls, an Australian (it's almost in Europe, right?), my American friends as well as all of the English that I hang round with.

It took so long to get anywhere in there because you were constantly stopping to talk to everyone. It was an epic journey trying to get from the dancefloor to the bar, so I was drinking quite slowly, as I mentioned. All part of the plan for a quiet one. Yeah, like it was deliberate...

It all went wrong, I believe, when I went to the bar to buy some cocktails. I was planning to get one for myself and for one of my friends, but it turned out that she'd bought one for herself too. I was thus stuck with two cocktails to drink. What was I to do but drink them both? Take one for the team and all that...

I was chatting to loads of people, as I mentioned, and a couple that spring to mind include the Norwegian girl whose name I can't remember but I play rugby with, an American guy and a German heavy metal fan. I spoke in German to the former and the latter, but in English with the American. My German improves exponentially as soon as I drink anything, and a loud club is the perfect place to speak, as your mistakes won't be heard / noticed.

I don't remember exactly what it was I was talking about with the Norwegian girl, but it must have been pretty enthralling because we were there for a good 15 minutes or so. Stupid alcohol-befuddled memory.

The conversation with the German was much more memorable. He's a friend of a friend of a friend, I think, and we just happened to end up chatting together at one point. I was introduced as being from England, to which he told me that he was going to London for a gig later in the week (tonight in fact. Shit, it's Friday already). I asked who, and he said that I wouldn't know them, because they were a heavy metal band.

He didn't look like a metal fan, and I generally stay away from looking like I might like death metal, so it was kind of a mutual surprise when I knew the band(s) he was off to see. The Haunted were the main support to someone else, and we spent ages talking about The Haunted and their predecessor At The Gates. Oh, and all in German too, which was great for me.

I told him about a few places he should check out during the Friday daytime, and also to buy a copy of Time Out, since it has listings for all manner of gigs in every imaginable genre under the sun. I was a little jealous, to be honest, because I miss London quite a bit, both the city itself and the people there. It'd be good to get back, if only for a weekend. Maybe in the new year.

Finally, I must turn to the conversation I had with Cameron, an American friend of mine. Unfortunately, I have to return to the Friday night previously to explain it properly. I'd gone to a birthday party / drinking session for a couple of friends of mine, but had got there very late, as I was also out saying goodbye to another friend who was leaving town the next day forever. Sniff. I'll write properly about that next.

When I got there, I was pretty stone-cold sober, whereas everyone else was well on their way, especially Cameron. He came over to me and we talked about this and that for a while. Well, I say 'we' talked, but I actually mean he slurred at me endlessly whilst I tried to throw in the odd word from time to time.

His main conversation topic was that I am now his hero, because he thinks that I have Jillian eating out of the palm of my hand. I don't, let's make this clear here. I think we've both realised that nothing is going to happen, but we're still good friends. It's just that Cameron hasn't quite realised this yet, and thinks she's still pining after me, and that I'm leading her on. I swear that I'm not, and it's not like that.

He kept asking me (put on an American midwest accent to do this properly) "How the fuck do you do it man? You're like my fucking hero! What's your fucking secret man?" and so on and so forth. I was trying not to answer, or at least to just make light of it, but the questions and adoration kept on coming.

His eyes were wide too, his enthusiasm was so all-encompassing and on the surface. It was funny, to be honest, because he was so very drunk, and I was so very sober. He then asked me how he should go about getting with an Italian girl at the party, since she was "fucking hooooooooot man".

On Tuesday, when we spoke again at Amadeus, the theme was roughly the same. I think he may have even said the exact sentences again: "How the fuck do you do it man?" definitely came out more than once. I asked him how things had gone with the girl, and he struggled to remember who the fuck she was.

He asked me if I'd seen her in the place that night, since he couldn't properly remember what she looked like. I didn't have much of an idea, because at the party on Friday she was just another face in the crowd, nothing memorable. I kind of fobbed Cameron off by telling him that I'd let him know if I saw her, which seemed to satisfy him.

He then told me that I had to score that night, that I needed "to fuck someone", whoever it may be. Cheers for the advice, like that wasn't something I was thinking about myself. I like it when people feel the need to remind you of something like that.

I was one of the last to leave Amadeus, and I think it was with a couple of my friends that I got a taxi up to the student village and thus Bar Drei. Why on earth I went to Bar Drei I have no idea. Remember how it was going to be a quiet one? Erm, yeah, sorry about that. I blame those two cocktails.

We drank in there for seemingly ages, Christ knows to what hour. I had a few little blue cocktails with whatever in them. Probably too many, no doubt. I reckon it must have been sometime around 5 that we left the bar, and for some reason I couldn't be arsed to walk home. Luckily, a friend said that I could stay at hers.

Before I go any further, she asked me not to use her name on the blog here (she already knew about it, as do most of my friends), for fear of upsetting someone in our circle of friends. I'm sure my friends will be able to figure out who it was anyway, if the gossip chain hasn't already spread the knowledge about... Anyway, her name for now shall be Ms X, because I'm too lazy to come up with something more inventive.

Ms X kindly let me stay over and share her bed. We were both pretty drunk, Bar Drei's cheap prices having that effect on us, so it was possibly no surprise that things happened.

No, there was no sex, just a lot of kissing and some fumbling pawing of each other. That was it, as far as I know, things went no further than that. I don't even know how long we were at it for, or at what time we eventually dropped off to sleep. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. Time has no meaning at these, erm, times, right?

I woke up at about midday (well, ish), as did Ms X, but neither of us could haul our asses out of bed, except for the constant replenishment of the glasses of water. Boy did we need those. There was no repeat of any of the passion from the night before, but at least things weren't uncomfortable between us.

It happened, it was a good thing that it did, but neither of us particularly wanted to follow it up. She's a friend, a good friend, but there's going to be nothing else that will happen between us. To be honest, I don't know why something did happen, save for the effects of alcohol. We've always liked each other, sure, but only as friends, nothing more.

Unless I've been missing some signs for the last 3 months. I'm pretty sure I haven't though. I know I'm useless at picking up such signs, but I'm not that bloody useless! Nope, this was a one-night thing, fuelled by our good friend alcohol, and I can't see it happening again any time soon.

As I said, it was great, but in order to save the friendship we're not going to pursue things further. We've seen each other since (later that day, in fact), and everything's been just like it was. We both know that we were quite, quite drunk, but it's good to know nothing's been spoilt by it.

Well, maybe part of my reputation as an Asexual Worm, but that's not a bad thing, is it? I do hope I can get rid of that moniker permanently before the year's out. Stupid, inaccurate nickname.

Neither of us were particularly enthralled with the idea of getting out of bed, so we lounged around there for hours and hours. We talked about anything and everything, laughing at random things and letting the conversation meander to wherever it wanted to go.

I kept telling myself, and announcing out loud, that I needed to get up, so that I could at least do something with my day, but the warmth of the bed was a tough shackle to break out of. It was cold outside too.

I eventually convinced myself to get up and return home, having wasted an entire day and also being very hungry, but it was not until gone 5 in the afternoon that I managed to get back to my own place. For shame, for shame.

And so ends another tale of a drunken night out. I do honestly do more than go out every night, even if it hasn't felt like it for the last couple of weeks. It's the end of term, that's my excuse.

Now I just need to think up an excuse for last night. Oh, and tonight, because I have another party to go to. This is the life I have chosen...

Tuesday, December 14

Just Don't Give Me Any Stella

Two things are currently irritating me. One, in fact, is infuriating me. Infuriating me to the point that I want to go out and kick a kitten or something.

The relatively minor irritant is the lack of timekeeping by a few of my friends. I'm fed up with being at a designated meeting point right on time and having to wait 15 minutes for them to turn up. I usually rush myself to get out of the house on time and catch the bus, so it can get very annoying to know that that rushing was in fact not required.

I used to be the latecomer to everything a few years back, but I've made a conscious effort to put that right. Yes, there are still sometimes occasions when I'm a couple of minutes late, but they're getting ever rarer.

Oh, and another thing that's annoying me at the moment: My fucking bastard of a phone.

It doesn't like German SIM cards too much, and has a habit of what I call 'throwing a tantrum' every so often. By that, I mean it decides to switch itself off (usually in the middle of a call or whilst trying to send a txt) at random intervals, and then refuses to switch on properly for a good 20 minutes or so.

It also toys with you by turning itself on when it's back in your pocket, after you've given up trying to turn it on. I say it toys with you because it seems as if it is finally working properly, but then switches back off again as soon as anything is required of the SIM card.

That is so annoying, because you can type out an entire message, thinking the phone is working properly again, only for it to crash on you as soon as you click Send, activating the SIM card.

To quote The Streets from 'Such A Twat', "Ah, fucking phones man!"

Anyway, that was something that sprang to mind as I was writing. The following is the single most infuriating and intensely annoying thing I have come across recently:

The phone system at HSBC.

Why can you not just ring you fucking branch directly?! I've been trying to deal with someone at the branch in my hometown, but to speak to her, my call had to be routed through a call centre in fucking India!

And that's after listening to the myriad of options and instructions they give you. Oh, and the type of 'Hold' muzak which makes you want to march up to HSBC's head office and cave in with a brick the face of the 'creative' bod who came up with the idea in a meeting of "Hey, what about THIS piece?" when deciding what muzak HSBC's phone system should have.

And then jump up and down on him until his sides rip open and his insides are on the outside, followed by pouring 12 kilos of salt into these open wounds, as well as a few litres of hydrochloric acid for good measure.

Then, and only then, will he know just how fucking infuriating that piece of music is.

It's so annoying not being able to ring a branch directly. I knew about the re-routing system, so I tried to work around it at first by googling for the Melksham branch and a direct telephone number.

I found one on various local websites, and rang it. No answer, of course. I resigned myself to the prospect of "pushing star to talk to an operator" and being told that "our operators know that you are waiting".

It's not as if these calls are free, either. They may be in the UK from a landline, but using an English mobile in Germany is very fucking expensive. I even have to pay to receive calls on it, which is why I switched to a German pay-as-you-go SIM card a few months back.

However, calling England is even more expensive with that, so I use my English SIM card for such calls. Plus I can guarantee my phone won't cut out whilst using the English SIM card.

Ah, fucking phones man!

Monday, December 13

Santa Is Not Real

Apologies to any 5-year-olds who read my blog, but he's not. His name is Daniel, and he lives in the room opposite me.

On Monday night the corridor I live in had organised a Nikolaustag party in our kitchen. Nikolaustag is on the 6th December every year, and is the main present-giving day for many Central Europeans. I believe it's based on the story of Saint Nikolaus, a rich man back in years gone by who used to give presents to poor children on this day. You might want to check that one.

It'd been organised a week or so earlier, as had a Secret Santa. Everyone's name was put into a hat, and we each drew one out. You buy a present for the name you pick, but don't put who it was from on the card. You know how secret santas work. I had one of the girls from my corridor, and picked up a great little set of Christmas candles from a shop in town, each shaped like a snowman or Santa Claus.

We also each brought some food to the party. Some cooked and made little speciality dishes from their home countries, others bought things from the supermarket. I didn't know how to make anything Christmassy, so I filled in the gaps that were needed by buying ice cream and wine. A big effort, I know.

The wine was actually enjoyed by everyone, so I must be picking up some sort of taste when it comes to picking a half-decent bottle. I know what I like, so I buy that. Rose is my particular favourite at the moment, and I've found a nice Spanish one in the supermarket I use.

You still can't beat a bottle of Gorbatschov vodka though. And yes, I also thought that Yeltsin would be a more suitable name for the brand. Go figure.

A big sack was left in the corridor for all of the presents to be deposited in, in order to preserve the anonymity of the givers as much as possible. I managed to wrap my present up with at least 5 minutes still remaining before the deadline, which for me is a very good effort. Usually I'm right on the deadline, if not after it.

The sack was collected by Daniel and taken to his room, where it remained whilst we all descended on the kitchen and got everything ready. There was a fantastic spread on the table, with bowls of food from across the globe. We have a relatively varied selection of nationalities on our corridor, or at least of ancestral nationalities. By that I mean that even many of the Germans are first generation Germans with emigrant (immigrant? I always confuse those two) parents.

I snapped a few photos (now over at the PhotoBlog), and set about chatting with everyone. In German, of course! I've been conspicuous by my absence from the kitchen over recent weeks, and there were even a few people there that I'd never met before.

Even out of the people I knew there, I could barely put names to faces. I'm absolutely fucking terrible with names, I really am, and it's especially difficult when the names are unusual (i.e. foreign). I'd learnt a few over the 2-3 months I'd lived in the halls, but mostly I didn't know. What made things worse is that most of them knew my name.

Thankfully, the giving out of presents remedied the situation.

Daniel disappeared into his room, and came back into the kitchen to a Christmassy tune (whose name escapes me right now), dressed as Nikolaus (i.e. Santa Claus / Father Christmas) and dancing around. He leaped about for a bit, and then dragged us all down the corridor in a big conga line. Bearing in mind there were about 20 of us, this was quite a sight!

We then came back into the kitchen, and the giving out of presents commenced. As did my learning of names, as each one was called out individually and very clearly. There is a use for Christmas after all!

All of the presents were silly little things, which was great, as buying presents for people you don't really know can be difficult. I got an English guide book to Heidelberg, which made me chuckle. At least I can now learn something about the town in which I live!

After all of the presents had been distributed, and Nikolaus / Daniel had changed into normal clothes once more, we cracked on with the food. There was some fantastic little bits and bobs amongst the selection, including these little pastry pockets filled with sauerkraut, my current favourite German food. It's a cabbage / veg mixture, and is very tasty.

The wine was flowing, and so was the conversation. I chatted to a few of the people I hadn't really met before, always in German, and basically just had a good time. My German got complimented a few times, which is always a confidence boost. I know that I make mistakes, but my overall flow and meaning is usually clear. It's only rarely that I have to completely alter and restate a sentence because it wasn't understood.

A few of us then went down to the cafe / bar in our halls to play a bit of table football. They're so very into that over here, and are very good at it too. I know how to play, and about tactics (etc), but I haven't had enough practice to become a master at the powerful wrist spins. They have, which meant that any team with me on it was at a disadvantage. All good fun though.

When I went back to my room, sometime around midnight, I was full of good intentions for the next day. I made a list of things to do on Tuesday, and also one for Wednesday. I was going to turn over a new leaf ("einen neuen Anfang machen" - I looked it up), start going to my lectures again, and spend more time in the kitchen, since I would then speak a hell of a lot more German.

I'd made friends, learnt names, and felt integrated into the corridor community once more. I was on a real high, full of positive thoughts about the next day, the rest of the week and the rest of my time in Germany.

In hindsight, going to sleep was the worst idea ever, because then you have to wake up. Do you think that my Tuesday went according to plan? I'll leave you with that one for now.

Washout Weekend

As I mentioned, I struggled to get out of bed last Saturday, owing to a combination of a late night and a real motherfucker of a hangover. I can't remember doing anything of note in the afternoon, apart from possibly whimpering to myself and trying to make the pain go away. Twelve pints of water later, and still no luck. Although I was running to the loo every 5 minutes.

Most of my friends were on a trip to Cologne, but when they arrived back in Heidelberg I was able to meet up with them in a cafe, where I had a quick bite to eat and a green tea. I've discovered green tea since I've been here, thanks to a Chinese girl on my floor, and I have to say that I really like the stuff. I'm not a tea drinker normally, nor any hot drinks for that matter, but I like the taste of green tea. Leafy, but a little barky too.

Oh, and you've got to love the way Germans have meat with everything. It's kind of a running joke amongst my friends, in that even vegetarian options will have some meat in them. I had a cheese soup (not as nasty as it sounds. Very tasty, in fact) whilst in the cafe, and even that had lumps of pork in it. Tremendous stuff!

I remember nothing of note that evening, which probably means I went straight home, watched a film or something, and then crashed into bed. Actually, knowing me I probably sat up until a ridiculous hour playing Football Manager 2005. That's been my unfortunate habit recently.

Sunday was also a non-entity of a day, this time because a load of my friends were in Nuremberg. I tried to organise a DVD night at mine for the evening, but because they were all knackered that one didn't get off the drawing board.

So there we have it, a completely crap weekend, with nothing interesting at all to report. This is what happens when I go out on a Friday night. I don't know why, but recently it's been taking me 2 days to recover properly from a heavy session. I used to be right as rain by 6pm the next day, but at the moment I need the entire weekend to recover from a Friday night. I'm getting old...

Wearing Hotpants

And so I find myself once more having to clear a backlog of material, for the simple reason that I am so very, very lazy busy. I believe that I have 9 days worth of events to catch up on, and it just so happens that on pretty much every day there is something worth writing about. Let's see how far I can get through it before I get distracted by something else.

I shall begin, as is the fashion nowadays, back at the beginning, which is last Friday afternoon. You will recall that I'd spent the Thursday evening at a spoof cocktail party, where fun was had by all. That was with my usual group of friends, whereas I spent the Friday night with another lot. I shall commence... now.

I went round to Amy's place at lunchtime, to finish the work of art that was my t-shirt and hotpants combination. I managed to get a Union Jack drawn on the back of my hotpants, but figured that it would take too long to colour it in and then let it dry. I contented myself with merely writing 'The Crown Jewels' on the front. Well, Amy did it because my handwriting is atrocious.

After that, I put the two items ever-so-carefully into my bag and headed for the supermarket, since I needed some booze to take to Rachel's, where we were going to get set up for the party by drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol in as short a time frame as possible. Because we do that kind of thing. You can take the us out of England, but we're still English!

I decided against wearing my hotpants over my jeans on the bus up to Rachel's mainly because I was on my own. Later on in the evening, I wasn't giving a shit, but at 7pm and stone cold sober, it wasn't happening.

I got to Rachel's everyone else started arriving, and we cracked on with the drinking. Oh, and the wearing of frankly ridiculous costumes. When I look back on it, and at the photos, I have to question what exactly the fuck I was thinking. White hotpants, about 3 sizes too small for me, over a pair of jeans, with a Union Jack on the ass and 'The Crown Jewels' written on the front.

At least I wasn't the only one looking ridiculous, and nor was I the only one in that outfit. I'm sure you've seen the photos on the PhotoBlog by now, and can tell that we all looked fucking stupid. The important thing is that we looked stupid together. All we hand to do was try and stay bound together for the rest of the evening, so that we could point to each other as our reason for looking like complete fools.

I also remember Pete throwing together some kind of American Wigger look, complete with bling. It made me laugh every time I looked at him (probably because the vodka was kicking in too), and there's a couple of great photos of him pulling a few faces and poses.

I seem to remember playing a bit of 21, and also YeeHa!, which is the best drinking game ever. Although I seem to remember saying that about Pyramid and probably 27 other drinking games. YeeHa! is definitely one of the most raucous, and can get quite, quite loud. I can't be bothered to describe it here, although I will try to do so at some point.

It was getting a little late by this time, so we necked whatever drinks we had left and set off for the party, a 10 minute walk away. We'd gotten dressed up, so we figured that we'd better actually go to the fancy dress party...

We'd been told that there was a 'Surprise' for anyone who turned up in some sort of national costume, which we were expecting to be free entry or a free drink at the bar. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to be handed a little bottle of schnapps each as we walked into the room. I think mine was a plum flavour, although I'm a little unsure, what with the vodkas beforehand...

The party itself was a really good laugh, and I spoke to loads of people whom I recognised from my language course back in September, from other parties and from God knows where. I thought when I got up the next day that I could remember everything, but evidently not.

I bumped into one of the guys in my corridor on Saturday afternoon, when I eventually hauled my ass out of bed, and had a quick chat with him. He was asking if I was going out that night, and I told him that I was still recovering from the night before. I said that I'd been at an Erasmus party, and where it was held.

I was thus a little shocked when he told me he knew, and that he'd been there, and also that we'd chatted for a good while whilst we were there. Why does this always happen to me? I always have memory gaps when I think I remember everything. It now worries me what else happened that night, because if I can't remember chatting to Eric, a hell of a lot more could have taken place.

Such as being invited to a party on Sunday night by a Swiss girl I know called Sarah. I met her again this Friday night at yet another party (don't worry, I'll eventually write about that one too!), when she asked me where I was Sunday night.
Erm, at home, why?
Because you missed my party!
What party would that be?
My birthday party. I told you about it last Friday.
Ahh, I was so very drunk, I didn't remember. I'm so very sorry.

That last sentence must come out of my mouth at least once or twice a week, something which is starting to worry me. I need to find that happy place where I'm merrily drunk, but will still remember everything the morning after. Too often I go much, much further than that and pretty much drink until I pass out. Stupid boy Pike.

I remember dancing for a good while with a load of people, although I'll be damned if I can pick out the faces of any more than 2 or 3 of them. I do enjoy a good dance when I'm out and about, especially if it's to a bit of cheese and with a load of good friends. As it was on Friday night, on both counts.

As the party was winding down, I ended up with Erik, a Belgian friend of mine. We headed to Bar Drei for some post-party drinks, with the unspoken intention of not getting home until a ridiculously late / early hour (depending from where you judge it). Unfortunately, we couldn't get in because we didn't live in the student village there. The bar was apparently overfull, and entry was restricted to those that lived in the immediate area. Being 15 minutes away was simply too far.

Although we were a little peeved at the time, in hindsight it was probably for the best, since I felt like shit on Saturday anyway. It was already gone 4am by the time we got home, so if we'd got into Bar Drei, I would have been struggling to make it into bed before 6.30, which is never good!

I was still wearing my hotpants at this point, and must have looked a right state. I was pissed as a fart, no doubt talking non-stop and at 1,000 words per minute (my usual drunken habit), and wearing a pair of white hotpants over my jeans. I'm a classy individual, I know.

And that about wraps up Friday night. To be honest, it just about wraps up Saturday too, since I didn't wake up until quite late in the afternoon. Yet again, I missed out on playing a bit of football, because that is arranged for 3pm each Saturday. I need to stop going out on Friday nights!

And what did I do this Friday night? Why, I went out and got home at 6.30am. I'm a quick learner...
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