London: Departure Day -2
Monday 13th May 1996
‘What part of I’M NOT ON THE PILL did you struggle with, Skipper?’ I ask, swatting him on the side of his strawberry blond head.
‘Sorry… I… uh… Just got carried away.’ He at least has the decency to sound sheepish. The small remaining glow from the fumbling bedroom encounter and the preceding nine (ish) large vodka and tonics evaporates like a drop of water on a hot rock. In that split second, I feel deflated and more than a little pissed off.
The trouble with the withdrawal method of contraception is that the sole chance of it working at all revolves around the person who is supposed to ‘withdraw’ actually doing so. But not only do they need to do it, they need to do it in a timely manner.
Shit, bugger, shit, bugger, shit.
Tomorrow I have to trek from one side of London to the other to go to the office and get, what I can only guess, will be a hauling over the coals for sins on my previous tour around Europe. I need to collect a ton of paperwork and instructions for my next tour, before a 5pm pre-departure meeting. And now, thanks to Skipper, I also have to fit in a visit to the local sleazy ‘free for foreigners’ doctor. Hopefully, I can get the morning-after pill without a lecture on the perils of casual sex.
‘Right, you better go then. Big day tomorrow.’ I direct Skipper, pushing him off me and over the side of the narrow single bed with one impressive shove.
As he fumbles around the tiny hotel room’s grubby carpeted floor for his clothes, I wonder three things:
1. How the hell DID I end up in bed with this guy? The answer to that question probably has something to do with the vodka, and;
2. Why do all coach drivers (you must call them coaches, not buses. Coaches don’t stop to pick people up. Being a coach driver is supposedly much more salubrious than driving a bus), have ridiculous names like Skipper? Already I have worked on tours of Europe with a Dipstick, Blue (there is a little and a big one of those; I’d had the little one), Sandfly, Psycho, Boxo and Rasher.
3. What is it going to be like when we are all 80 and reminiscing about old times in Europe? ‘Do you remember Russell Jones?’ someone would ask. ‘Hmmm… was that Sandfly or Rasher?’ Bloody madness.
As a tidal wave of exhaustion pummels me, all I want to do is close my eyes and slip into a dream that does not involve accidental pregnancies.
‘See you out there somewhere,’ says Skipper, as the heavy off-white wooden door closes, clicking locked behind him.
Not if I can help it I think, as I fall into a deep and thankfully dreamless sleep.