I have just completed a travel map of the world that shows I have travelled 9% of our planet in my life time, that’s not very impressive is it? My first excursion abroad was in 1983 on a camping trip to the Loire Valley in France with my parents and I have since visited Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Jersey, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, the Canaries, India, North America (Washington, Florida, Nevada) and Tunisia. I carried out this exercise after coming across these old photos (below) which came from a visit to Corfu in 1988.
Me and Kev Mitchell who was later to be my Best Man
After my first trip to France my first venture on to a plane came in 1987 when aged 19 a group of us went to Ibiza on our first lads holiday. We were sold the trip through a holiday agent saying that we were going to San Antonio, a metropolis of bars, alcohol, soft drugs and lovely girls. We actually ended up in the sleepy resort of Es Cana about twenty miles away, but it was fine because lots of other groups had been sold the same dud deal and it ended up quite a lively sleepy resort if you know what I mean, at least for the two weeks were there anyway. It was probably a bit of a blessing in a way as back in Blighty a big night out for us village boys was a few joints and about ten pints of Directors followed by a late night trawl of either Majestics (Reading) or Martines (Basingstoke). San Antonio would have been a shock as we were quite a naive bunch really.
Left to right: Hutch, Cunni, Kev and Me in a lovely yellow number
The following year we went as a larger group (10) to Ipsos in Corfu (Greece?) on one of these hideous 18-30 trips that attracted women desperate for their only sexual activity of the year as they hunted down men that were so incoherent they would do anything for a dare to give their mates a laugh (who were we to let them down?). We had a cracking time there drinking Retsina which was about 60p a bottle and only took three bottles to have you dancing the night away. The Only Way is Up by Yazz was a massive number one that summer, and even when I hear it now it takes me right back to Corfu 1988. I even had my only ever holiday romance with a pretty girl called Liz who was at Newcastle Poly. She came to visit me once, but it is never really the same when reality kicks in, nice as she was. Her cosmopolitan Uni lifestyle was more fun than playing pool at the Cricketers in Baughurst with The Clash blaring out of the Jukebox, not that I thought that at the time of course, the Cricketers was my Universe.
Left to right: me, Hutch, Keith, Priv, Keith, Kev, Cunni, Jimmy, Foggy, Colin, Darren
The trip to Kos also provided me with what is still to this day the funniest, cringe worthy and hideous moment in my life, mainly because of it’s shock value. If you are a woman reading this, either shut down this Blog now or don’t be offended it was a long time ago?. In our group we had our long standing friend Jimmy (above, black vest) who was always likely to be something of a liability as he had a somewhat chaotic personality meaning that he had no sense of budget (buying Gary Gatwick memorabilia before we even got on the plane) meaning he would be skint within days of arriving and would cause a scene at any given opportunity. We were actually a bit divided as group as to whether he should be allowed to come at all, but we came to the conclusion that as he did not have a nasty streak in his body, the worst he could do was cause embarrassment but still be fun at the same time. He didn’t let us down.
As predicted before the first week was over Jimmy was already borrowing money and his behaviour was veering between homesickness and worryingly erratic. If anyone else on the trip didn’t come home we just assumed they were with a girl or asleep on the beach, with Jimmy we assumed he was either dead or had rowed a Pedalo to Albania and search parties were sent out more than once. Twice he was caught simulating sex in his bedroom by smashing his bed backwards and forwards in a bid to convince us he had a rampant girl in his room and on another occasion he completely blew my outside chances of romance with a well mannered girl from Kensington by crawling up to us on the beach and standing up, with just sand covering his modesty, and saying ;
“You’re right Bob they are big.” Funnily enough she ignored me after that despite my desperate protests of innocence.
However, as was the way with Jimmy, he saved his best for when we were all relaxed and unprepared to quash his actions. We had just settled on a packed out coach journey back from one of these crap day trips when the tour rep (a girl about 20) got hold of the microphone and started coming out with patronising crap like they do. It went like this;
Rep: “So have you all had a fab day?”
Passengers: (unenthusiastically) Yes!
Rep: “Come guys speak up…HAVE YOU ALL HAD A FAB DAY?”
Passengers: (slightly louder) YESSS!!
Rep: “So now then……………has anyone got any juicy gossip from the Hotel Mega?”
ENTER JIMMY: “AAAAH SHUDDUP AND SHOW US YER GASH!!!
OH MY GOD!!
There was a stunned silence only broken by sporadic muffled laughter and all I can remember is being on the floor in heady state of embarrassment and joy that I have not experienced since. I glanced around to see my mates in a similar state of ecstatic bewilderment and the posh girl from Kensington looking like she needed oxygen, any lingering hope of getting near her was now entirely extinguished. Fucking Hell that was bad, Jimmy had surpassed expectations with a completely random bombshell and the remainder of the journey was one of heads in hands intermittent giggling fits and angry sighs and tuts from the rest of the passengers. Our popularity as a group had reached an unsurpassable low point.
In Corfu: I didn’t realise how much I smoked (see other pics)
After that holiday, to my eternal regret, I got my first ever what you would call proper girlfriend and spent much of my early twenties acting grown up and mature right until we split up some four years later when I made a late come back in Kos. I hate myself for that period, because it was that small window in life when I should have been free, full of energy and surplus cash, instead I spent it being boring until I was ruthlessly discarded by a girl who still moves on every three to four years to this very day. I have few regrets in life really and I am quite a happy soul, but that little period between 22 and 25 is one of them.Youth is definitely wasted on the young.
I am still in touch with all the lads in the photos above, some more regularly than others, and coincidentally Jimmy sent me a message during this Blog saying that he had travelled 6% of the world. Part of me wishes I had done it with him, but a larger part tells me I am relieved I haven’t. I am not sure if I could cope with him now because he hasn’t changed.