Last night was an absolute epic. Just that perfect combination of friends, booze, music, good cheer and an unexpected present of epic proportions. Kirsty D came over for dinner (delivery Marmaris pizza: ideal for lining the stomach) and we watched the X Factor (what a bunch of talentless people and what awful television) and drank beer and wine. First stop was Ma Bells where we managed to bag the head table (the one in the bay window at the front) and take it over. Loads of people arrived and many beers were consumed. Annoying golfers wearing the ugliest baseball caps ever (a screen print of a tacky Baxter painting of the Royal & Ancient) tried to cramp our style and pull our women but our inherent grooviness won out. We went through 2 bottles of sambuca and they were so impressed that they tried to buy a bottle but weren't allowed. Ha! We are so much galactically cooler than they. There is that sort of euphoria you get when you're out with your mates and everything just works. We were all on great form and it all kind of clicked - you know that sense of invincibility you get when everything is going brilliantly? It was that in Ma Bells, in spite of terrible service and poorly chapeau'd wankers. And then it got better.
Sick of waiting for the next round (the service really was dreadful), Andy made the genius decision to go Aikman's. Aikman's is a dive: dirty, poorly decorated, falling apart furniture, no AC, smokey, the lot. It's also my single most favourite pub in St Andrews, the only one I have consistently frequented my entire 11 years in St Andrews. It is a proper boozer, putting attention to the pints rather than the wallpaper, or image. It's brilliant. And it's also the best place for live music in town. My friend Kate used to play there, and she's just won a Q Award. We rocked in, pretty drunk I must say, and a totally rockin' country and western band were tearing the place down. So we got involved. Lots of beers and boogying. I have to confess to not being the biggest country fan. I view most of that entire scene like that bit in the Blues Brothers at Bob's Country Bunker ("Oh, we have both kinds of music: Country and Western!). But these guys were awesome. The lead guitarist was leaping onto tables for wild solos, the crowd were lapping it up, we were literally throwing people into the air (rugby line-out training comes in handy in the strangest places), narrowly missing the ceiling and driving Barbara's (the long-suffering pub-owner) blood pressure up mightily. She wasn't impressed with Andy's attempts to put her into orbit. She kept trying to calm the dancing down as it was knocking the light fittings out of their sockets in the Cellar Bar downstairs. It was kind of pointless on her part and she knew that she was fighting a losing battle: how can you calm the dancing down when the lead guitarist is can-can-ing on the tables? Many a yee-hah shouted. And then Kirsten wispered to the lead singer and all of a sudden "Sweet Home Alabama" is being dedicated to "a hill-billy named Rich who's moving down South". I'm grinning now remembering it.
So today was a slow start. Off to Naughton with Kirsty D to give James a belated birthday card and say goodbye. Lara Crawford has grown but is still puppy-tastic, flopping about and desperate to chew everything. And I really mean everything. Nibbling away at fingers, boots, hoodie tassles (well, ok, what the fuck do you call them, then?), tea towels, whatever. It turns out James had a late one as well and so we were all sort of subdued. Then someone I don't like turned up. His horse had thrown a shoe. Hm. In any case, we said our goodbyes to James, and headed back towards St Andrews for soup and sandwiches with Ben and Kellie. Kirsty went back to Edinburgh and Ben, Kellie and I went to see Wallace and Gromit. I know I've seen it. I saw it again and it's still fucking ace. Though I wanted a nap and had to drive afterwards.
Tonight was unexpected cool. Andy I decided to grab a bite at the Thai and wound up ordering their banquet (£15 per head for a LOT of food), then rocked over to the Byre where an amazing jazz night was going on. An incredible drummer, Paul Mills, was playing seriously groovy funk and jazz. We listened to their first set but exhaustion, excess beer, and the spectre of driving tests brought us home at the interval. Still, it was so cool to go for a pint and yet again find brilliant music and beer.
The last 2 days have been really touching. When I was writing about poison head all those months ago, and saying I know I'm blessed with great friends, well - the last few days represent what I was talking about. My leaving present was a hand-coloured original print of the harbour from the mid 19th century, and the obligatory card signed by everyone. At the table in Ma Bells, having just texted someone, I got a text from Millie saying to stop texting, because everyone I loved was there. Which was so sweet it nearly made me cry. But while I loved everyone there, not everyone I loved was there. But I didn't mind: if they were, I'd be leaving them all behind. I've felt very loved. It's all good. I'm just very happy, sad and excited. And the people in my life, here and elsewhere, St Andrews, London, the world, make all of those emotions, and quite a few others, more intense and wonderful. It seems that many amazing and lovely people love me and believe in me. So thanks. It's inspiring. It's humbling. And I hope to be worth it.
Now if I can only pass my driving test...