Previously Fat Mac, the Lone Groover and myself are thinking about meeting up in Amsterdam. This is partly to provide some distraction for Previously, who has been through a lot recently, not least of which has seen him join, through the financial laws of inheritance, and in his own words, “the lower rungs of the evil bourgeoisie”.
I have insisted that if we go, the Lone Groover joins us on this trip, due to what happened a number of years ago when Fat Mac and only myself went there for a weekend. Lone Groover is one of those people with an upright and sterling character (think: Stanley Baxter in Zulu), and I have the utmost faith in him making sure that we not only get there and back, but more importantly are able to remember what happens in between.
On the previous trip to Amsterdam, I knew we were in trouble right at the beginning when I met Fat Mac (I’ll call him that, because that was his name in those days) in the departure lounge at Edinburgh Airport, and he was on his second bottle of lager. Our 7 am EasyJet flight had not yet been called.
On the short flight over he bought a further three Budweisers, even though they were extremely expensive, and there was a very determined look on his face.
As soon as the train from Schiphol arrived in the centre of Amsterdam he dived into the station bar, insisting that he “needed to recover from the journey”. Some time later we emerged and headed in the general direction of the hotel, where I’d booked two single rooms for three nights. We didn’t get there for a long time.
There are a lot of bars in the centre of Amsterdam. I know this for a fact. It was beginning to get dark, and by then we were almost certainly in the vicinity of our hotel when I followed Fat Mac into a rather nice looking drinking establishment. Unfortunately, when we eventually went out the door to leave we took a left instead of a right, and ended up several hours and more stops for liquid refreshment later, back near the centre of town. Fat Mac later insisted that this was an error anyone could have made.
For me, things get a bit hazy after that. The lights went on, the lights went off – that sort of thing. I vaguely remember playing a lot of darts in bars and losing several bets because Fat Mac could not let go of his dart, I remember a lot of Polish people, narrow stairs in Dutch bars, being in my sleeping bag in a squat in Haarlem, and also being on a train. As for the sequence of those events, I have no idea.
Eventually, and I do mean eventually, we found ourselves at the actual hotel check-in.
The chap at the counter looked at our booking, frowned and said, “Thees eez Sunday the 23rd of September”
After checking the date on my watch, I answered, “Correct”
“But you ver booked een for three nights from the 21st”
“Correct. Oh…Really? Oh…yes! Well, you see we had some problems locating this hotel. It took us a bit longer than anticipated.”
The nice chap looked at me inquisitively and continued, “I veel have to charge you for all three nights.”
He gave us our keys and Fat Mac and I proceeded down the corridor. I’d just begun to comment to Fat Mac about the check-in chap’s blue kaleidoscope eyes and dyed hair, and also the possible sexual orientation of two flowery people sitting holding hands in a corner of the foyer, when Fat Mac interrupted me.
“Rodz – What’s the name of this hotel?”
Looking at my key I was able to answer, “The Quentin”
“Rodz – This is a gay hotel”
Under his breath he muttered, “This…is…a…gay…hotel. How the fek did you manage to book us into a gay hotel? The name’s a big clue for a start – Quentin”
Even after a good night’s sleep in the Quentin – and I don’t know about Fat Mac but I certainly double-locked my door and barricaded a chair against it – I woke up with a truely epic hangover the next day. The hotel was on a room only basis, and after we checked-out I said to Fat Mac:
“I’m peckish. When did we last eat?”
“You had a horrible looking bun filled with dead animal parts at the airport.”
“That was two days ago! Let’s go for breakfast.” I suggested.
“Ah’m nae polluting ma boady wi food on this trip.”
Fortunately, I found a cafe which also had a license, so whilst I enjoyed bacon, eggs and coffee, Fat Mac was able to get through three more Buds.
The bacon and eggs didn’t do much for my hangover, but we managed to make our way into the centre of town where I parked myself on a seat in a cafe within sight of the train station, and, nursing a fresh orange juice, refused to budge until the number of my functioning brain cells got into double figures, or it was time to catch the train back to Schiphol, whichever might happen first.
None of this seemed to have much effect on Fat Mac, who after a couple of pints of Guinness jumped up, crossed the road and dived into a different coffee house with a neon sign of a tomato plant in the window. After a couple of minutes he came out, and then went into a wee shop with a sign saying ‘Legal Highs’ above it.
He spent the rest of the afternoon (the plane back to Edinburgh didn’t leave until late on the Sunday) consuming what he’d just purchased, whilst I sat there in a corner nursing several more juices and attempting to ignore five hours worth of constant and incessant chatter, not to mention the drooling, from Fat Mac concerning various mathematical and metaphysical perspectives of bliss.
For reasons which must by now be plain, since the trip described above, I’ve avoided going on other foreign jaunts in the company only of Fat Mac. But I feel that it is almost my duty to provide some sort of light relief for him after the terrible time he’s been having recently. This is why I’ve contacted the Lone Groover, currently resident in France, and suggested that he gets the train over to Amsterdam and meets Previously Fat Mac and myself at Schiphol.
I mean – we’re older and wiser, and with a sensible person such as the Lone Groover in tow – what can possibly go wrong?
Here are more of my short stories.