Well. Aren't you guys all just LOVELY? Thank you for telling me I'm pretty (you didn't actually say that? Oh. Well, never mind, in my head you did and we ALL know that that is the important thing here). Maybe Euan will show us the pictures anyway, as to be quite honest I have no qualms about being mocked in public. Mock away!
Maybe, to clarify this, I should tell you about the Most Embarrassing Thing That Ever Happened To Me. Oh bejesus this was bad. I mean, worse than the time I was dancing on a bar in Greece and fell backwards into the bar only to be caught by some barmen and subsequently chucked out of the bar in front of all the uber-cool people I was dancing with. Or the time I walked past a hot guy who was sitting at a table, trying to be cool and nonchalant but also simultaneously all sexy, only to have a girl run up to me a second later to tell me I had blood all over the back of my skirt. Or the time I worked in a banana factory in Australia (just don't even ask) and was shouted at in front of many, many people by the staff manager who told me I was incompetent and couldn't even pack a box of bananas correctly because ARE YOU STUPID don't you know they should go in at at 45 DEGREE ANGLE otherwise they BEND (or something)?
So. Yeah. The setting for this particular tale is Paris. When I was 18 I lived in Paris for three months, working translating shit English to French and back again, just for the hell of it. Or maybe there was a purpose but it was always a little bit hazy to me. My last day of the three month jaunt was something, I felt, to be celebrated. And, to be honest I'd had enough of sitting in cafés on my own, wearing a black beret, reading Nietzsche, smoking Gauloises and generally looking a bit mysterious and French. I wanted to do things English style. Which, those of you who hail from abroad-y places, you may think means sipping tea and trying not to get any jam from our scones onto our floral Laura Ashley dresses, but this would be a misapprehension. No, English style means getting well and truly hammered. Ever read The Sun or some other horrible British tabloid? Yes? Then you know what I mean.
Anyway so I got hammered on God knows what with God knows who and went God knows where. Anyway I have recollections of weaving through crowded rooms (and it seems likely that I would've been weaving throught the empty ones, too) getting in cars with French men (it's ok, I was not alone, there was an American girl called Shannon there with me who assured me she was very sensible and would look after me. Although, in hindsight, the only word she knew in French was 'poulet', so I think we might've been a bit screwed in any situation involving "communication") and generally being a drunkard.
The next day. Oh holy mother of all that is good, pure, and French (contradiction in terms? You decide). I'd say I woke up, but I'm not sure that would quite be the term for it. I think that Consciousness popped into my inert body, had a quick look around and decided it had better places to be, so made a swift exit. This happened a few times until it stuck around long enough for me to prise open my eyes with a fork and wonder who the Hell I was and whether maybe I was actually in Hell, because this sort of pain surely must be accompanied by little fuckers with horns and red unitards stabbing me with pitchforks. I squinted painfully at the room, and yes, it was thankfully my own (I had a boyfriend at the time, and that would have been BAD) and the lump on my floor was not an alcohol soaked pile of clothes it was, in fact, Shannon.
Then I slowly creaked my head around (trying not to disturb the hoards of tiny people with cymbals, blackboards to scrape nails on and VERY bad tempers who I had to assume had set up residence in there) and had a look at the time.
I should remind you that this was the day I was leaving. After three months of living in one flat (with a very strange flatmate, but that's another story for another day) and what with the fact that my name and the word 'tidy' are rarely to be heard in a sentence that does not also involve words 'why the fuck can't she just be a little more', the packing part of the moving day debacle was a bit of a hurdle. Which is a little bit like saying that being in a cave 30 metres underground in the middle of the Arctic with only a pair of earmuffs and some vigourous star jumps to warm yourself up with would be a bit nippy.
There was stuff EVERYWHERE. My stuff. Like all the original stuff had suddenly started breeding and producing all sorts of new hybrids of stuff that was little by little taking over my flat, then Paris, and would shortly conquer the entire world.
I think must've stood up at some point, and waded throught the omnipresent stuff to the kitchen, and got myself some water. Shannon must've left. It's a little hazy. I started to pack (read: fling things wildly into various suitcases and bags) all the while necking water in a desperate bid to get my hangover to stop torturing me ruthlessly. I assume I got dressed. I may have showered but it seems unlikely. The flinging and necking (of water) and hammering on the eyeballs by hangover and low moaning sounds continued for a while, until a little thought that had been swimming around in my alcohol-soaked brain finally surfaced, coughing and spluttering.
My train. The one that was taking me back home to sunny (HA) cheery (double HA) London town. When was it? And how would I get there? And what time was it? My questions could be answered in quick succession. My train was leaving at 2.15pm. I had too many bags to get the Metro so I would have to call a cab. It was 1.30pm.
I called a taxi. The man told me in a smug manner that he'd be there as soon as he could, but that it would take at least forty minutes to get to the Gare du Nord (the train station I needed to get to in ten minutes).
Right. Ok. So, all I needed to do, I reasoned whilst slugging down the water, desperately trying to control the waves of nausea and wiping away the vodka-like sweat from my pale greeny-yellow face, was get my stuff downstairs and wait on the street for the taxi, get into the taxi shouting 'allez allez' at the top of my voice, get the train, get home without incident, and die there.
Can you guess that might not have been what ended up happening? Yes? You have NO idea (unless I've told you this story before, in which case just pretend you haven't and don't spoil it for everyone else).
My flat was six floors up. There was no lift. It was a spiral staircase. I had two huge suitcases and a large bag. I was wearing a floor length black winter coat that I couldn't fit into my cases.
I ran down the stairs with one case, trying not to fall over and DIE, burst panting out onto the street, only to see my taxi pulling off round the corner. No, surprisingly enough the French are NOT known for their patience, or for their customer service. So, I ran back upstairs, called the taxi company to persuade the taxi driver with better tings to do to come THE FUCK BACK and pick me up. Back down the stairs with suitcase number two and large bag. Back up to get my handbag and make sure I'd locked the doors. Back down to see if the taxi had arrived. Back up to call and ask why the taxi hadn't arrived. Back up to hide the keys in the place I'd said I would.
SIX FLOORS. Did I mention the SIX FLOORS? Spirally? Basically, take the worst hangover you have EVER had, put on a huge coat, and then run around in a little circle for about half an hour dragging really heavy things, and you still will have no idea of the torturous pain I endured. Oh, I know, it was self-inflicted, but that made it worse because my whole body was screaming "YOU! YOU did this! I HATE you!" and that made me all guilty as well.
By the time I got into the taxi it was 1.55pm. I just broke down. Through amounts of snot and tears never previously witnessed, I explained my plight to the taxi man and asked him to DRIVE as FAST as he could to the Gare du Nord otherwise the poor little English girl (read: disorganized drunkard) would never make it home. I'm not sure whether it was out of pity, or maybe out of a fear that his cab would be rendered useless by the snot and tears, but he really put his foot on it. Which, in Paris, is a TOTALLY different thing from going fast in the UK or the US, or anywhere else. In Paris a lot of people have really shitty cars, even if they're very well off, because, quite simply, there is NO POINT having a nice car to drive in Paris. It will quickly get battered and/or squished by the hoardes of other cars going a trillion and one miles per hour and squeezing into spaces that most British motorcyclists would view as a bit of a challenge.
So, we flew across the city, my tears quickly replaced by a horrified expression as we ducked and dove through the jammed streets and, miraculously screeched up to the station in one piece.
Time check. 2.10pm. A fucking miracle.
I leapt out of the cab, heaving my bags out, paying the driver and casting wildly around for some indication of where to go and necking a little more water. I saw the signs for the Eurostar and followed them, dragging my three huge bags along with me. Now, the Gare du Nord is absolutely HUGE. Cavernous. As I attempted to run through the massive station, pulling my bags along behind me, trying not to trip over my coat and bump into any of the hundreds of people who constituted the seemingly endless throng, I began to feel VERY VERY nauseous.
I don't know whether it was
a) the alcohol
b) the lack of sleep
c) the frenzied packing
d) the running up and down six flights of spiral stairs five times
e) the wearing of an inappropriately heavy and long winter coat
f) the million mile an hour taxi ride
g) the fear of missing my train and being forced to live with strange flat mate for the rest of my life
h) all of the above
but the nausea began to feel a little overwhelming. And then? A lot overwhelming.
Oh bollocks, I thought quietly to myself, whilst still running towards the Eurostar check-in desk.
I'm going to be sick.
So. Toilet, I thought. But I couldn't leave my bags and if I did go then I would definitely miss my train and I reckoned I had just enough time to make it as it was. Right. Next option. Bin. There was a bin about ten metres to my left.
I went for it.
I didn't make it.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. I threw up on the floor of one of the largest train stations in Europe.
I just couldn't cope with the fact that I had just vomited in public, surrounded by hundreds of sensible, non-vomiting people who would, quite rightly, be appalled by my disgusting behaviour. So I just crouched down, put my head in my hands and sobbed. I couldn't bring myself even to look up. When you were little did you ever have that thing where you believed that if you wanted to hide from somebody all you had to do was scrunch your eyes together really tightly and they wouldn't be able to see you? I think that must've been what happened. I was so humiliated that I couldn't open my eyes for fear of facing the reactions of my fellow human beings who would have far too much decorum and self-respect to go around hurling in full view of, oooh, let's say at least four hundred people.
Somebody called security I think, because some burly French men came and sat me on a bench and asked me questions. I tried to explain that I HAD to get on my train. They gently explained back that, mademoiselle, of course you can get on your train. Or, at least you would have been able to had your train not already left five minutes ago.
But fear not. The story ends well. The burly French men got me on another train leaving half an hour later. They cleaned up my vomit (oh God) and fed me a tuna baguette (which I promptly threw back up. Yes, in the toilet this time). They carried my stuff onto the train for me and generally helped me out. I got back to London. I sobbed some more. I slept.
So. That was a very long winded way of saying that I really am not in a position to care whether some slightly unflattering photos of me appear on the Internet. I have vomited in front of hundreds of people and watched as someone else cleaned it up.
There can be nothing worse. Unless you have some story to top it? If you do, please share it. I can laugh about that now, five years on. Let me laugh at you too.
Euan. Post the pictures if you can/dare. Do your worst.
If, however, you happen to be a Parisian, and by some fluke you have in your possession a picture of me, eighteen years old, wearing a floor length formal coat and cowering in a pool of my own sick, please do me a favour and destory it. The world just does not need that.