So a couple of friends of mine are heading off to New Zealand at the end of October after passing their PhD studies. A couple with plenty of brains between them and no doubt if they have offspring not only will they be endowed with super human cognitive abilities but these guys are also ultra fit. New Zealand’s gain is definitely our loss.
So Charlotte and Reuben organised celebratory drinks on Friday 15th September. The plans were to meet at the Marquis pub, or so I thought. Walt and I were accompanied by my support worker Abby who took me to the pub. She was mighty curious as to what the Marquis looked like from within, having only viewed it from the outside. Why she was curious as to the internal decor of this particular public house, I have no idea. I’ll have to ask her the next time I see her…anyway, I was about to order a cider but thought I had better check my phone to see whether plans had changed. I looked at my messages and surely enough I had three messages with different locations of where the party was going to start. The last and final message read…”OK, so Cosy Club is my final answer”.
I turned to Abby and said, “Where the heck is Cosy Club?” I was half way up London Road about half a mile from the City Centre where Cosy Club is situated off High Street. Of course, I wasn’t sure where exactly cosy Club was or how to get to High Street. I was in two minds as to whether to go home at this stage and pop in to town later to meet a friend for a curry. No, I thought to myself…don’t be defeated by this little challenge…you will find Cosy Club…and if you don’t, you can find some nice little bar somewhere and have a few drinks with a few strangers.
Abby popped me on to the bus and I asked the bus driver where I needed to get off for High Street.
“Sit tight and I’ll get back to you mate” replied the bus driver. When the bus got to the City centre he approached me and told me that his bus inspector was waiting at the bus stop to escort me to High Street. Fantastic I thought what a great service. So, the bus inspector who was an extremely nice chap probably in his fifties walked me down High Street.
“Where exactly do you want?”
I explained I wanted Cosy Club and he informed me that he hadn’t a clue where that was and that he didn’t do any drinking or smoking himself.
“I’m very boring you know…apart from the pint of cider I have at Xmas.”
Anyhow he sits me down near HMV on a metal bench. It was around 4.45 pm and the sun felt warm on my face. I felt very relaxed and happy there for a few minutes. I assessed the situation and asked SIRI where I was.
“Where am I?”
I was hoping that SIRI wouldn’t reply,
“Wherever you want to be.”
Which is sometimes the sarcastic response I get. SIRI gave me a straight answer,
“Your on 11 High Street.”
I had already checked and new that Cosy Club was on 68 High Street so needed to walk further. I heard people on the left of me talking loudly and contemplated asking them for directions. Walt and I made our way up High Street. Walt started to take me into a shop which I guessed was a clothes shop of some persuasion. A shop assistant asked me whether I wanted any help. I told him I was lost and needed to get to Cosy Club. He told me he knew where that was and pointed me in the right direction which was to carry on walking up High Street and then turn right at the bottom.
I carried on walking down with Walt guiding me around obstacles and other pedestrians. I asked a very nice couple if I was on the right tracks and they confirmed I was heading in the right direction.
“Take care.” They shouted after me. How lovely I thought. This isn’t such a bad gig.
I carried on until I got to the end of the Street and Walt started to take me into what I guessed was a bar or pub. I heard some guys at a table and asked them if they knew where Cosy Club was. One of them turned to his mate and asked,
“Do you know where that is mate?”
His friend didn’t but he offered his help anyway.
“We’ll find it buddy. My name is Ollie. Lovely to meet you.”
And he shook my hand. I asked him if he was on an evening out and he explained that he had just finished work, which was Espo and, that he was a team leader and only 21. He lived in his own flat in Braunston but really wanted to work abroad as a holiday rep. I told him that I thought he would be cool doing a job like that as he was extremely helpful. He asked me how old I was and I told him I was 47, to which he exclaimed,
“F**k off mate, I honestly thought you were in your 30s!!”
Walt faithfully followed Ollie as we weaved through street furniture and people. Well, we walked further and Ollie asked a couple of other guys and we finally found Cosy Club which funnily enough was literally round the corner from where Ollie and his mate were originally sitting. We had just gone around the block! Anyway, young Ollie gave me a big hug and wished me a great weekend and I entered to find my friends sitting down having a cup of tea.
We then made our way to the Brew Dog for a few more drinks with Charlotte’s friends. The evening went so quickly that I didn’t realise what the time was. I was due to meet my good friend Martin at the Flamingo Grill and bar on Loughborough Road. Reuben ordered a cab which arrived after 10 minutes. I said my farewells to Charlotte and company and made my way out only to find that the taxi driver refusing to take Walt and I on the grounds that he was allergic to dogs. He pointed to his inhaler and said that he was asthmatic. Now, I am pretty sure taxi drivers are meant to carry their medical exemption forms with them. Reuben had told the taxi company when he booked that I had a Guide Dog but apparently they said there was no record of that on their systems. Another taxi was apparently on the way but it didn’t turn up. Another friend Sarah and Reuben took me to a taxi rank and Walt and I got to the Indian restaurant 40 minutes late.
I have yet to make enquiries as to whether the taxi driver was genuinely allergic to dogs or was being economical with the truth. I have had plenty of experience of taxi drivers refusing to take me and my Guide Dogs on the grounds of their religion. A few years ago I had to attend magistrates court in London where two drivers were being prosecuted for refusing to take myself and my then Guide Dog Quin.
This incident didn’t spoil a lovely and adventurous evening.