Monday, September 26, 2008

The Fantastic Chester Pub Crawl Birthday Extravaganza

Woke up at half-eight when the phone rang. It was Glen's friend Sean (pictured), curious about what plans we had for our day in the picturesque City of Chester. I was still suffering from "just woke up" and was relatively incoherent.

After that I fell back to sleep until about 10 a.m. when Fiona's boyfriend, Dave, called. Shortly after 11 a.m., Sean, Stewart, Dave and I were on our way to Chester.

I was there last night to see "The Running Man," but I didn't get to see all that much of Chester at the time. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so I was unable to get photos of town... although in light of how this day went, it was probably best I didn't have it with me. Overall, it was a fabulous day. We shopped in the morning, where I bought the new Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight (88 Remix)" maxi- single. We then at lunch at McDonald's (a little taste of America... except the ketchup is a little sweeter, and they charge you extra for each packet. Weird.)

Over the course of the day I bought a Union Jack flag and a map of Britain (both to hang in my dorm room when I get there), a cassette of the "Buster" soundtrack (excellent!), and a blank tape. We walked and shopped for about 8 hours, including a walk along the top of the wall that surround Chester. The wall was built buy the Romans long ago... and after we pointed out that fact, our running joke became that everything in town was originally built by the Romans. ("Oh look, W.H. Smith... did you know that store was built by the Romans?")

We also visited Chester Cathedral, which was fabulous. I wished I could've stayed there all day with a skeleton key to get into all the crypts, crannies and what-have-yous that are in that place. We then left to search for some museum Dave wanted to take me to in Chester. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure exactly where it was and we failed in our mission to find it.

Dave (pictured, right) and I finally took a break in the center of town, near the keymark clock that was covered up for repairs, and then entered the pub behind us. While we waited for Fiona and Zoe to arrive we chatted a bit, largely about political and social culture (he's also conservative like me), over a pint. Fiona and Zoe were supposed to arrive at about half six, but they missed their bus and didn't get in until half seven.

We the set off on a traditional British "pub crawl," in celebration of Fiona's 18th birthday (in two days actually... so she's technically two days away from being legal age to drink, although no one here seems to mind much.) During the course of this most festive evening, I was introduced to several British beverages, as we managed to hit, I believe, about six pubs (some of them are a bit fuzzy recollections).

There were several memorable moments during this excursion:

  • I sang the sad and depressing "Happy Birthday" song to Fiona, as taught to me by my high school World Cultures teacher, Pete Sanden, who sang it to kids in class on their birthdays. It goes:

“Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.
People dying in the streets.
Children with no food to eat. But...
Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday."

  • Fiona spilled two drinks, one of which resulted in a broken glass, and the other resulting in Dave licking the spilt beverage off of the table.
  • I accidentally knocked Zoe off of her chair... well, actually, I barely touched her and she fell back off of the "slippy" chair.
  • Air guitaring "Hotel California" in a pub.
  • Singing a rousing version of "Bohemian Rhapsody," and later marvelling that a Queen song was played at each of the last three pubs we were at. One more and my theory would’ve kicked in, that this is no longer a coincidence, but rather a tribute to one of the band members having died. (Fortunately, that was not the case, and Queen will continue to “rock you.”)
  • An Englishman who was convinced that I was English, and merely impersonating an American accent.

Some other hazy recollections include Dave blowing up a balloon (I hope it was a balloon) while walking down the street, running through the streets of Chester to get to the next pub, something called "Thumper," and then hitting a pizza place to get some food at five after 11, since the pubs closed at 11 p.m. Although the place was ready to close in 10 minutes, we were undaunted, ordered our pizza, and forced them to stay open until 11:45, when this loud group finally left the empty restaurant and returned to the streets, no doubt causing much celebration among the staff forced to endure our lack of courtesy.

Afterward Fiona and Dave briefly disappeared, and we had no idea where they went. But as quickly as they vanished, they suddenly re-emerged and we could catch a taxi back home. When we returned, Dr. Morrison was quite amused by my current state caused by excessive alcohol consumption, especially when I then took it upon myself to pay him back the five pounds that I owed him. I walked Zoe back to her house, then returned home, where Fiona went to bed and Dave and I sat in the television room, continuing to chat until about 4 a.m. He told me stories about some kid named Philip Ingram at his school, who reminded me of someone I went to school with named Mike Sim. I told him about some kid I went to school with named Mike Sim, who reminded him of this kid he knows named Philip Ingram.

The evening ended with me acquiring from him my new "pseudonym in favor" -- Thermos Fortitude. I don't know what that meanns.

What could have been finer?

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