My adult life- Chapter 6

After a week or two in the new flat we finally got round to furnishing it. My flatmate and I both raided our parents’ attics and managed to kit it out quite well. It’s worth mentioning that we were paying a very reasonable amount for this flat in no small part down to the fact it came unfurnished. Although the kitchen was tiny both bedrooms were a reasonable size and the toilet had a fairly handy shower that was perfect for sitting down in when hungover. Aberdeen was second only to London in UK rent prices at the time so we ended up staying there for two years in the end, even paying rent for a summer that we were barely there. The only down side was my bed was one half of my childhood bunk bed, probably just smaller than your average single. It was hardly ideal for wooing the young free and single ladies of Aberdeen. Especially when they saw my Manchester United bed spread. I think it was from the 1993/94 season and had the players’ names from the time scrolled across the pillow case.

Gossiping friend- “What was the guys flat like?”

Casual acquaintance- “He had the names Brain McClair and Pat McGibbon plastered all over his pillow”

Considering this was 2007 what the fuck was I thinking?

None the less I was having a blast. I was very rarely in the flat unless I was sleeping until 2 in the afternoon. The rest of the time I would go straight to a friend’s flat from Uni and started the gym three times a week with a couple of mates. We didn’t make much progress though as gym days were also drinking days.

For the sake of argument I’m going to call my friends flat Hogwarts. Little did I know at the time but it would be the scene of so much of my University debauchery and hijinks. It was rented out by my friend Mufasa and had two other flat mates who were also friends of mine. Mufasa would remain in that flat until the end of our 4th year and undergraduate graduation with various flat mates throughout the three years (We will get to that later). The best thing about Hogwarts though was the fact it was still student housing. It was one of those companies that specialised in groups of students but had nothing to do with the University and was essentially a nice block of flats. It was built in one large square with a car park in the middle. A lot of my friends stayed there throughout the years so I had even more reason to spend my time at Hogwarts. You could just go from one friends to another’s in seconds. It was also much nearer the Uni than my flat and I could never be arsed walking home for dinner then back to Hogwarts to be social.  The icing on the cake was the bewildering fact that the occupants never paid a deposit. I think they paid some sort of fee that was never going to be returned so no-one had any qualms lighting a firework or kicking a football around indoors. God I fucking loved that place.

I had only just started to get to know Mufasa mainly through knowing Spike but he was also in some of my Biomed classes. Therefore my time spent in Hogwarts gradually increased as I got to know him better and get closer to a different group of friends than I did the previous year. This group would expand and become my closest friends to this day.

The nights got gradually worse in terms of folly and by the time the first term was breaking up for Christmas and exams our alcohol tolerance was at an all-time high. My favourite night was always Monday. Instead of Liquid it was a club called Tiger Tiger. Two floors again with a VIP room on the ground floor and a bar round every corner. Tiger Mondays we called them (genius).

One Tiger Monday I ended up going back with a Fresher to the halls of residence. It was the first occurrence where I couldn’t erect the monument due to over indulgence of alcohol. This was to be repeated on an almost weekly basis for the next three years (not the girl but the erectile dysfunction). We ended up lying in bed listening to the Spice Girls. What a fall from grace.  We fell asleep with Wannabe on repeat and I ended up quite emotionally attached to that song. Intercourse was attempted again in the morning, this time in the shower but it was not to be. After I went home later that morning a friend called and asked me about her. It turns out they were friends and he was trying to court her (nice way to put it). They became a couple the next day I believe and stayed in a serious relationship for two years or something. Crazy. I must have put her off the single life. It transpires that she had also slept with another friend of ours that summer during the pre-term summer school. That was the thing about Aberdeen Uni. It was like pass the parcel.

Put it this way. At one point in the midst of a long bout of depravity Spike went with his flat mate to the sexual health clinic.

Flatmate- “I would like to be tested please for Chlamydia”

Woman at reception” Ok do you have reason to believe you have Chlamydia?”

Flatmate- “Yes”

Woman at reception- “What’s the reason?”

Flatmate- “My friend had sex with a woman and contracted Chlamydia. I have recently had sex with the same woman.”

Woman at reception turns to Spike- “Ok then why are you here?”

Spike- “I have also recently had sex with that woman”

The thing is I’m sure all these women were saying the same things about us. This isn’t all about male bravado. Far from it. I also went home with that woman several times over second and third year and not once was I able stand my soldier to attention. Although this was common place I like to think that my knowledge of her previous companions stuck in my sub-conscious. Actually that can’t be it. I was about to do much worse…

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My adult life- Chapter 5

After a long summer running care-free, arms spread around the hills of Scotland, with the wind blowing through my curly, not yet receding, hair it was back to the daily vodka grind of Uni life.

It had been a sober summer all told. A month before I started University I had a fairly serious operation to repair my shoulder so the resultant “fairly serious” rehab never really took off. Thus my first University summer was spent in the gym. It also meant that I was revitalized. The unexciting summer made for an exciting return.

I was moving into my first proper flat with a friend from the previous years halls of residence. We landed a cheap unfurnished 2 bedroom flat near the centre of town but a solid walk away from Uni. He was in a long term relationship and therefore slightly less eager to piss his days away. It also meant I was home alone for most of freshers week and the flat remained unfurnished for the first 10 days or so but for one large sofa.

Freshers that year really began where first year left off. With my flat being somewhat unusable another friend’s parents had bought him a fairly plush pad even closer to Aberdeen city centre. That would be our pre-drink haven. By the end of first year our drink of choice was a pint of Vodka with lemonade and Robinson’s fruit squash. If you are un-familiar with this brand of squash it’s basically Great Britain’s national drink for children. Our choice of flavour was Lemon (which really complemented the lemonade).  For the first month or two we continued with this concoction. The problem was that we were increasing the amount of Vodka and decreasing the mixer to the point it was about two thirds vodka. That’s all good and well but the resultant effect was I regularly had no memory whatsoever of anything that happened. The silver lining was I could sleep in the freezing cold, unfurnished flat much easier but had no idea what I have been getting up to.

On one of these nights I do remember meeting one lucky lady on the dance floor of Liquid (the nightclub not a metaphor). I have no idea what her name was. I don’t think it has left my memory, I never actually knew it. After getting well acquainted on the dance floor we headed back to her sisters flat. It transpires she was simply visiting her older sister who was starting one of her final years at Uni and was somewhat protective. When we arrived a small argument ensued between the sisters involving the flat mates bed. Basically the visiting sister was under strict orders to stay on the couch as the flat mate who was not in the city at the time was unwilling to let their bed go to good use. Can’t blame them really. We were urged onto the couch while the older sister went to her bed and after 20 minutes of first base courting we slipped off to the flat mates vacated bedroom. The older sister was probably not asleep but what was she going to do? Walk in? Also she had given us a condom. I mean the couch was alright but there was no room for two.

I didn’t take us long to get down to business and start putting the bed to good use. As we started getting into it she started getting more aggressive and throwing her self around with me in tow. I should explain at this point that she was larger than me. By no means would you call this girl fat but I also wouldn’t call her skinny either. I was definitely skinny though. Not like it matters but she was calling the shots.

I had her squashed up against the wall before I threw her back onto the body of the bed. At least I thought it was the bed. Her head cracked off the top off the headboard. It was the back of her head as well. It sounded and looked awful. Probably the closest I’ve ever been to killing a person. It was like the end of Million Dollar Baby. We tried carrying on for a while but as I looked at her face I was becoming increasingly despondent. She was clearly still in pain and no doubt concussed. Looking back there is about 20% of me thinking I had sex with an unconscious woman for at least a few seconds. Never the less, we finally called it a day and moved back to the couch where we both passed out one on top of the other, tired, injured and unfulfilled.

The next thing I remember, it was morning and the older sister was dragging me from the couch out the front door. Aggression clearly runs in the family. She was yelling some pish, frankly I was too inebriated to fully comprehend what was happening. Next thing I know, I’m out the door and on the street. I never said bye to the girl, or got her number or even asked what her name was but hopefully she suffered no repercussions to that head knock. Luckily I recognised where I was and It was a simple 5 minute walk home. This however would be the first of many occasions where I would walk home the morning after the night before at the same time the schools were going in. Obviously my new flat was next door to a primary school. By the time I left that flat I’m pretty sure the children were singing nasty songs about me.

Once I sobered up it quickly dawned on me that my Uni virginity had gone. It may have gone in first year but no-one knows (except maybe the girl who stole the watch) but this was the first confirmed home run. It wasn’t great, I nearly killed her and I was thrown out by her sister but it was a monkey off my back. Second year was up and running. All I needed now was some furniture in the flat and I could start gaining some momentum.

My adult life -Chapter 4

As first year began to wind down I couldn’t have been happier. New friends, new women, basically new life. The excessive drinking was becoming more fun each time with my youthful enthusiasm easily trumping prospective hangovers. I remember visiting home one weekend and a friend asking if the reputation of Borderers being big drinkers was justified.It wasn’t. It doesn’t matter if you are a geek, a gym freak, a virgin or a playboy.  If you binge drink between 4 and 7 days a week then that’s big drinking. It’s nothing to be proud of (ok I’m a little proud) but most sociable people at Uni would drink more in one week than anyone working a full time job would in one month. Going out every Saturday night is childs-play in comparison.

Sadly, for my 5 years at Uni I couldn’t shake that thought process. I constantly wanted to better each story, out do each adventure, make each night more crazy and another one for the record books. At that age, it meant drinking and having sex more than other people. Many of my Uni friends also held this notion, as you will see later on. First year though was still about finding my feet. The stories were more Walt Disney than Ronny Wood. However, I was becoming more confident in pushing the boundaries of ridiculousness.

After a night clubbing for a friends birthday just as summer was approaching, a bunch of us hopped a wall or two and started exploring Aberdeen Football Stadium. It goes without saying that the primary reason you do when break into a football stadium is… to piss on the goal line.

Aberdeen fan “Wow great save”

Me “Ha, he’s rolling in my piss”

As I say, more Walt Disney than Ronny Wood…

I also found a football and started kick it around the pitch and scored the obligatory goal. I’m pretty sure I was Aberdeen’s joint top goal scorer that season. While all this was going on, one of the other lads decided to climb one of the floodlights…one handed…while filming it on his phone. If that wasn’t bad enough, when he got to the top and ran out of ladder,  he started to climb the actual lights…one handed…while filming it on his phone. As stupid as it was, it did make for a great video. There was a family of nesting birds at the top who got the fright of their lives, they weren’t the only ones.

I would go back to Pittodrie several teams over the years. A couple of times to watch sport, most of the time not. The goal line was looking pretty lush by the time I left.

First year was coming to an end though. Exams were over and went much like the winter exams, just with slightly less people acing them while on cocaine. The drinking continued until slowly people started to drift home for the holidays. I was looking forward to going home and resting my liver. One other thing that people also don’t think about is that amount of clothes you need for that level of partying. If you go out 4 times a week, you have to use the same shirts, jeans etc all the time. Not easy when they are covered in spilled drinks, vomit or in some cases, stale jizz. There was many a fashion fopah. Add that to the vomit coloured hair, it was maybe good to go home and reflect on things for a few months.

It was hard leaving halls. Everyone was around each other 24/7, you would just walk out your door and something would be going on. I would’t miss being on a ground floor with a broken window however. I spent more time clearing away tree branches and leaves from my room than I did packing my bags. Moving into a real flat would also mean no more launderette’s or food halls and a more respectable place to partake in liaisons of the sexual nature.  Therefore in my head, your own place meant big pimpin. In reality, I moved into an unfurnished flat then used the bottom half of my childhood bunk bed rather than splash out on a new one.

That bed was going to see some things. Second year was about to turn it up a notch.

My adult life -Chapter 2

After a month or 2 my freshers year started to truck along quite nicely. A wee routine had developed:

-Get up at 4pm for a 1 hour long shower to shrug off the hangover and feverishly masturbate.

-Dinner at 5 pm

– Start drinking from around 7pm till late.

Of course drinking only really accounted for 4 or 5 nights of the week. The others were reserved for cinema trips, youthful folly and miscellaneous. Classes were never an issue either. A couple of mandatory practicals a week were the only blemishes on an otherwise flawless diary. There were meant to be 3 lectures a day but unless there was a register, then it’s a sure as hell fire I never went. In fact, I did get pulled in by some attendance commissioner for not appearing in class but my unrivaled ability to dig my way out of holes came to the fore.

Times were good. I was making friends, gaining confidence, growing up and walking around pretty chuffed with my endeavors. Armed with a meaty student loan and no-one telling me what to do the world was my Oyster. In hindsight though, I simply see that time as a period of rapid growth. I did many cringe worthy, embarrassing things and immaturity was still much of what I was about.

Bored one night me and a couple of mates went to a girls room we knew in one of the cell blocks. The door was open but no-one at home. Like any cold blooded 18 year old would do we decided to hide, wait for her to come back then giver her a fright ( In my 18 year old head I thought this was courting),

The downside was, hiding places were hard to come by in a tiny little cell/room. Thinking well and truly inside the box, one went into the wardrobe, one under the bed covers and myself under her desk. The problem was, she wasn’t 3 years old. She would see someone under her duvet, me under the desk and the wardrobe had to much stuff in it. The plan was in tatters. However, In a moment of fleeting genius we figured out that if we emptied some of her clothes and threw them on the bed then there would be enough room in the wardrobe and the guy under the covers would just look like a pile of clothes. That’s the kind of intellect that got us into Uni in the first place. We then managed to pile a bunch of her random folders and junk into a wall for me to hide behind under the desk. All the pieces were coming together. All this effort for 2 seconds of possible hilarity. Anyway, we waited…

5 minutes went by, then 10, then 15.

Wardrobe friend “I’m so hot, I’m sweating all over her stuff. Where the fuck is she?”

Me “I don’t know, my back hurts and I’m bursting on a piss”

Bed friend “This is the best wank I’ve ever had!!”

Eventually a mutual friend came by also looking for her.

Me “Oi it’s us”

Mutual friend “What the fuck happened in here?”

Me ” We are waiting to give her a fright”

Mutual friend ” She will get a fright when she says what you have done to her room!!”

Eventually he texts her and it transpires she had just started watching a film in a friends room. Giving up, we attempted to ram all of her clothes back into the wardrobe after having some fun trying them on. We then left and went about our night.

From the eyes of the girl: She left her room, went to a friends for a nice chilled movie night then comes back a couple of hours later to find the place trashed to all fuck, her clothes stretched, lying in a pile in front of the wardrobe and the place smelling of BO.

That night was the second time I had inadvertently ruined a girls room. The fire had been lit a couple of weeks earlier by spewing in that girls bucket and malting pubes all over her bathroom. Now sober I was continuing the trend. A trend that would get so horribly out of control. This is the reason I remember that story so vividly. Nights of childish hi-jinx were to turn much more disgusting a couple of years down the line as I grew older with time.

For now though the innocence was still pure and the drinks were still flowing. The routine rarely deviated during that first winter at Uni. One morning I was awoken by half a tree getting thrown on top of me. Several of my friends had found out the lock on my ground floor cell window was broken so for the second half of first year I rarely returned to my room without their being some sort of anomaly.  The only downside was taking I girl back to the room;

“Why is there a large dead tree in your room?”

“Where is your mattress?”

“Where is everything you own?”

Those were a few of the questions I faced when entertaining. Looking back, if I was a friend I would have just set up a video camera facing the bed or had some chains hanging from the bed posts. That would have been much harder to explain. I did get my own back on one friend though when we manged to pile up some junk and climb into his first floor window. Naturally I decided to piss in his kettle and boil it. Not great for any student keen on noodles. I doubt boiled piss is even that unhealthy but none the less we ended up swapping.

Eventually one of the lads actually managed to gain access to an un-occupied room. For some reason the 3 blocks of catered halls (jail cells) had a system where every key would access 2 locks. It just so happens one of those was in between two of my friends rooms. The room got emptied (I stole the mattress to have in reserve) while in general it got used as the ‘go too weed smoking room.’  This took the idea of breaking into rooms out of the spotlight and meant all the stoners could get stoned together without fear of their possessions getting thrown out the window.

A midst all the tomfoolery a couple of us auditioned for Big Brother. We got no where but was yet another stepping stone on my own personal new found confidence and lease of life. There were also exams in the middle of first year just to keep everyone on their toes. Two of my modules were a breeze and easily passed with knowledge from high school but my Achilles heel was chemistry.

I had never studied it past standard grade in school and went to none of the lectures so it was to be some what of a stumbling block. I did go to the compulsory practicals with mixed results. They were always on a Tuesday which meant a hangover. If there is anything on this fucking planet you do not want to do on a hangover,  it’s lab experiments with Ethanol.  I remember having to run out of class one day, not to spew but drop a deuce.

Whenever I need to drop a deuce in a  public place I will always use the disabled toilet (shame on me). This time, in my haste I never locked the toilet properly and to add sweet, sweet icing onto the cake, the toilet was directly facing the door.

Now I’ve used many a disabled toilet in my days and this is the only occasion a disabled person has ever, EVER needed to use one at the same time!

Midway through this gut wrenching hangover induced Cleveland steamer, a man on a wheelchair slowly begins to open the door and roll his way in, solemnly unveiling me like the two hundred and fifty thousand pound box on deal or no deal. As soon as our eyes meet he panics, lets go of the door and jams his wheelchair between the door and the wall.

Disabled guy “You should have locked the door!”

Me “I thought I did!”

There was an awkward silence. Not only that, but we were now conducting this conversation while I was still sitting on the toilet, trousers at my ankles. He eventually tries to reverse out but he was unable, his wheelchair was caught on the handle or something, I don’t fucking know. It was an unmitigated disaster. He was stuck!

After a few deeply disturbing seconds more, it was obvious that I really needed to get up and help him out. It was the least I could do! I guy In a god damn wheelchair was stuck in the door of the toilet and I was sitting watching with my pants down.

But think about it, what the fuck was I actually meant to do?? Just get up and start wiping my arse directly in front of him while he had no choice but to watch? Stand up and shuffle over? I had already lost all morality and dignity but simply using a toilet not built for a healthy mans arse. The one toilet this poor disabled, middle aged man could use in the giant labyrinth that was the chemistry department and he couldn’t go because a hungover, decrepit student with an outrages yellow afro was currently parked on it and causing a smell of satanic proportions. Not only all of that…!!!!  He was now about to get up and WIPE HIS FILTHY ARSE, cock and balls dangling away, just a couple of meters in front of his helpless, innocent eyes. Jesus wept. Add to all that, the door was obviously half open. Any eventual passer by would stop and see a disabled my stuck in a door, try to assist then look up to see me wiping my arse in front of him. Oh did I mention the smell? yea? Ok, well it was bad. I was also sweating heavily.

Literally one second before I was about to get up he managed to free himself and reverse out. If there is a God, that is the moment he thought “Fuck this I’m stepping in here.”

When I walked out the door the man had gone. The embarrassment must have been more overwhelming than his need for the toilet. I should have just finished all the toilet roll and cemented my place in hell.

This escapade was just anther reason to hate chemistry. A couple of weeks later me and my mate Spike (my friends who will repeatedly appear in these stories have been giving names from Disney films) got into trouble because we had to leave due to severe hangovers. The Russian woman who gave out the lab equipment went a bit Joseph Stalin and threatened to throw us off the course but the head lecturer sympathized and we were let off once again.

Spike managed to rub salt in the wound by turning up to the actual exam hungover. He went drinking with one of the other lads the night before. The other lad then turned up having not slept a wink. He had went back to some chicks flat and started bumping cocaine before losing his virginity.  He aced the exam though. In fact they both got exceptionally high scores whereas I passed by a whisker and I was the sober one. Lesson learned…

Once the first set of annual exams were passed it was back to alcohol and shenanigans. There were more awful situations to get myself in. About 4 more years of awful situations to be precise.

Africa Part 3- The Shark Dive

*This was originally part 4 but I accidentally deleted part 3. Pissed off would be an understatement. I will re-write it and post it after this. Fuck you Microsoft and your keyboard shortcuts!

After a couple of booze fueled nights and next to no sleep, me and a mate headed to Gansbai at piss arse O’clock in the morning. We had been staying an hour or 2 down the coast just along from Cape Town. Gansbai is the shark dive capital of the world and has the infamous ‘Shark Alley’ lying just off it’s coast, and that’s where we would be diving.

As a boy I loved Great White Sharks and diving with them was a lifelong dream. Even tired and nursing a mild hangover my enthusiasm and excitement was unquestionable. Face to face with natures most fearsome predator with nothing to divide us by a few inches of steel. Man versus Beast…lets get it on!!!

Little was I to know, stepping onto that boat was going to be one of the best AND worst experiences of my life.

There was maybe around 20 people were booked onto this particular boat, some just to watch, the rest to dive. There were at least half a dozen companies heading out that day but they all offer the same thing and no-one was worried that we would experience anything different.

shark 2 There was a quick induction and simple buffet breakfast at the company head quarters then we were quickly on our way. After settling onto the boat we got talking to some of the other clients and it was apparent most of them were together and had flown all the way from California for a Christian festival. Couldn’t ask for nicer people and there were several children in the group, all of which were going to do the dive. Stellar effort.

It didn’t take long before it became apparent that sea sickness was going to be a factor. The sea was choppy to say the least and there was giant buckets filled with fish blood and guts clogging up the boat. Sadly I have a history of sea sickness and add that to a hangover and no sleep it looked like I was going to be praying side by side with the Christians.

This particular cage could fit 6 people so the crew explained there would likely be three groups one after another at roughly an hour in the sea each. As we were all getting suited and booted the crew also explained that the side of the boat without the cage was the vomit side. A very important thing to remember! It was all looking very ominous and by this point my heart had sunk faster than the boat in Jaws.

Spew wave 1 hit about 5 minutes into the first groups dive. The free breakfast along with the previous nights wine was the first to go. Luckily, due to the hangover I hadn’t ate much at the free buffet breakfast. Unluckily, it wouldn’t matter worth shit.

Wave 2 hit when I turned around at the end of wave 1 and seen the chum bucket. As far as I remember I had threw up a few times before the next person subsided, so yet again in my life, without even trying, I was “that guy”.

By the time wave 982 hit most of the boat was at it. To my relief though I hadn’t one iota of excretable solid left in me and I thought all fluid had gone. However, to my utter despair this mattered none. Every time my liver produced Bile I would throw it up. In case you didn’t know, bile tastes terrible and you will NEVER forget it. I’m talking pure, fresh bile constantly flowing up my throat. (It’s important I paint the correct picture)

By this point though my stomach had squeezed and pulled from every angle so the vomit (bile) would volcanically erupt from my stomach but the projectile function of my throat had disabled. What followed was a hideous, aggressive action followed by the sound of a dying Chewbacca and only a miniscule amount of bile would tepidly dribble out like the climax to a sub-standard wank. Still holding true to my enthusiasm and positive attitude I turned to a group of the Christians who had meekly huddled together at vomit side looking pale and despondent:

“Ahhh. Yikes. Well that’s me just down to bile”

Having witnessed what they just witnessed they did not need me to summarize. They just looked at me with the look of “Why god why is this man doing and saying these things”. I think for a passing moment they questioned their belief in god just by looking at me.

From wave 1000 and onwards I took the strategy of edging my head closer and closer to the water so that a Shark would take pity and kill me in an instant. When I wasn’t throwing up I had procured myself a nice position on the deck to lie down on.(It was next to the chum bucket but that ship had sailed).

The first group had a few gasps of “Shark” and it looked like it was going to be prime cage viewing for the next group. At the end of the first hour about the third of the boat had been sick and many of the rest were waiting. In my favor were the years of alcohol abuse and subsequent hangovers at University. I was well accustomed to putting my fingers down my throat and getting on with it. So when the crew were calling for people in the second group I knew it was the best thing to do. I mean how much worse could it get? I was lying next to a chum bucket in the fetus position with a putrid, viscous bile trickling down my chin. If anything it might help. Or so I thought. I threw up my hand heroically, like I was back from the dead:

“ME. YES. ME. I WILL JOIN GROUP 2!!”

What a fucking hero I was.

I stumbled to my legs in Bambi-esque fashion and jumped straight into the cage. It was true Scottish stoicism if you have ever seen it. “Forget William Wallace! People will shout my name from the Roof tops!! Men will want to be me, woman will want me to be in them! They will write about this for years to come. From chum bucket corner to King of the World.” This is what was going on in my head.

However, in all the furore of my heroism and punch drunk on bile I had forgotten to do up my wet suit. Off the coast of South Africa. At the end of Winter. Fuck.

The wet suits are designed to let water in then hold it there for your body to heat it up and thus acting like a hot water bottle. For me, it was just a constant flow of freezing cold water in and out. And that was the last time I seen my testicles. Na but it was shockingly cold. In fact it was dangerous. None the less, I came to see sharks from a cage. So help me god I will see sharks from inside a cage!!! WALLACE, WALLACE, WALLACE!!!

My courage paid off. I went the longest time without spewing since I stepped foot on the boat. Not only that but there were two Great White Sharks! Once of which was swimming right up to the cage and brushing past it. All the thoughts of Hypothermia and Organ excretion had left and were replaced by wonder and awe at these beautiful creatures. It was only to get better!

shark dive One of the sharks decided to grab the large piece of Tuna that was thrown out by the crew to lure them in. Not only that, it did it like a mother fucking boss!! At pace it swam and grabbed it in its jaws, ferociously shaking it from side to side and careering into the cage. The power of its tale slapping the water and rattling the cage with crushing force, sending vibrations down to the core of my bones. Unbelievable!

It swam off with it’s prize and I lifted my head out of the water to the whole boat up in arms with with the power and guile they just witnessed and I had a front row seat. I looked around at the other cage members, all of us realized it doesn’t get much better than that. Dreams do come true.

The sharks were still lingering but it had definitely peaked. Due to worry that the bubbles were preventing the Sharks from coming close we were literally just holding out breath under water and coming up for air in a small gap between the water and the top of the cage. It was like being in a jail with all the walls, floor and roof being bars.

After the adrenaline began to subside from the Shark crashing into the cage my body began to take umbrage with my new found happiness. Floating around in the water and one step away from Hypothermia I lost the ability to judge an impeding spew. All of a sudden I grabbed the cage and pressed my face against it as I started to rally more bile.

“Oh shit…. bleurghhhhhhh”

The captain heard my horrible Chewbacca death screams and looked down to see me pressed against the cage, vomiting pure bile for the umpteenth million time.

“What the…what are doing??!!”

“I’m so sorry I can’t help…bleu…bleurggggghhhh”

“There are other people in the cage!!!! Get out!!!”

“I can’t mm…move…bleurggghhghh”

Meanwhile, the other people in the cage started to edge towards the shark.

“YOU SHOULDN’T BE SICK IN THE CAGE!”

“bleurgggh. Oh god”

I was now just down to the ‘after spew spits’:

“pugh………. pugh”

“Right, help me get this cage open and get him out of there”

I don’t know what his problem was. They were literally throwing dead fish and buckets of blood and guts into the water. There was barely any Bile coming out and the stuff that was, was going down my chin and into my wetsuit. What was I going to do?? Scare away the shark.

After being hauled out of the cage the spewing had relented.

“Right, go and lie down at the front of the boat. It should be better there!”

I was literally shunned from the rest of the boat. Shunned like yesterdays tuna.

shark

As I lay, basking in the winter sun I started to think…am I dying? I’ve stopped shivering. I’m so cold that I’m now warm. Is that the start of Hypothermia ?? Is it the Bile that I spewed into the suit? Had I pissed myself?? I did plan on pissing in the wet suit.

Just as I was edging towards the cusp of death. The boat start heading for home. I don’t quite remember how long I was lying there but it must have been a while. Apparently the sharks didn’t really do much after I left so maybe I did scare them away. I was also told that some people were too ill so never went into the cage. Well, no-one was as ill as I was so I think I will take the moral victory over every other person on the boat.

When we got back to land and safely into Shark HQ I think there only ended up being 2 or 3 people who were not sick. One if which was the guy I was with. Lucky bastard.

After sitting down and thinking the worst was over I started being sick in Shark HQ. What the fuck?? I was so ill I had made myself ill!!

The office staff started feeding me tablets and running around as I was sloppily drooped over the toilet bowl. They told me I had broke some sort of record as the first man to be sick in the cage. I find that hard to believe but who am I to question such a prestigious honour. I’m proud of it.

I returned from the toilet and sat next to my mate who after expressing initial concern started laughing.

“What you laughing at?”

“I’m just laughing at how you will tell the story. I went cage diving with sharks on my Gap yeaaa. It’s a Beautiful beast but I chundered everwaaa”

I seen the funny side to the whole thing, because you have to really. I spent the rest of the day in bed but it was worth it.

If you are going to do something. Then do it in style!

Africa Part 2- Road Trippin

Aim: Drive north east from Windhoek (the capital), through the Caprivi-Strip, through Botswana then arriving at the Victoria falls on the Zimbabwe side. 1 week there and 1 week back.

Transport: A 1985 Toyota Hilux with no air-conditioning or music player.

Accommodation: A mixture of camping, lodges and a hostel.

Sleep deprived but excited, we (3 men and 1 woman) set off on our road trip the day after our arrival in Namibia. Setting off early on the Monday morning there were a couple of things that needed to be kept in mind.

1- We needed to make good time and cover long hours in the hilux to make our Vic Falls booking

2- No driving in the dark as its too dangerous.

Our first night was spent in a lodge on the Okavango River. Two of us in one very large 2 story number and the other two on the river in a floating house. All told It was a nice relaxing introduction to Africa.

Having said that, on the first morning we were woken at 6.00 am with several loud, shuddering bangs. So loud in fact that it shook the house. My flat mate shot out of bed with a “Ross…Ross!!! What the fuck is that??”

Like me he was thinking, first night balls deep in Africa and we wake up to someone going tits with a shotgun?? Holy fuck we are all going to die!!! Or get raped!! Or both!! I’m too young for Aids!

Remaining calm, I respond “Ah they’re just shooting our breakfast”

Ah yes. Possibly the most idiotic thing I have ever said!

Long story short,  it turns out it was just some birds flying into the windows…

Literally a wake up call to my African naivety and ignorance.

Moving on, we made good ground. There is a certain culture shock when you visit certain parts of Africa for the first time. Driving along vast, straight roads we got to see the essence of Namibia.

Eye opening were the Mud-huts and small farms in the country side where children walk for hours every morning and night in crippling heat, in the territory of some of the worlds most apex predators to fetch water for the family. This is a far cry from me complaining about no air-conditioning and asking the driver to wind his window down because my testicles were sticking to my leg. I could be disingenuous like many and say that it made me realize how lucky I am. However, I already knew how facile Western life is. Instead, what I would say is that it opened up my eyes to an entirely different world, a way of life that I could only fathom if I was to live and experience for myself. My testicles were sticking to my leg! It was bloody hot!

Our first experience with the African wild life was a serious one. A real serious one.

Driving along we came across a Matriarchal  Herd of Elephants who were crossing the road in-front. We stopped the car and turned the engine off at a distance that some would say was stupidly close…others (the driver) safe as pie. I watched in wonder as they went about their business with goosebumps and the hair on my neck standing. Elephants are huge but act with a strange wild elegance that you can watch and absorb for hours.

Out of the blue, the quiet grace of these magnificent creatures turned into bubbling, wild fury. One of the baby Elephants decided to trip and fall (all of its own accord) which induced a protective panic across the herd and typically, WE GOT THE BLAME!!

The Elephants turned to face us with some loud trumpeting and a disconcerting aura of “We are gona fuck you up”!

Many people will know that the worst thing you could do would be to turn the engine on and hall ass down the road. So we were sensible and decided to play chicken with the giant Herd of Elephants…

With my arse twitching like a Rabbits nose , we stayed completely still while the Elephants looked us up and down. Eventually, the Matriarch decided to slowly walk directly towards us. We all  kept our composure remarkably well even if I did begin to weigh up the structural integrity a 1985, upside down Toyota Hilux has under an Elephants foot. With the Elephant still walking my arse went into overdrive and I started to wonder if I had wiped properly after my last toilet excursion. The pouring sweat was now causing an incomprehensible itch that only my index finger could address while no-one was looking. Sadly that’s how my mind works, everyone else in the car is thinking FIGHT OR FLIGHT!! I’m going through my mind the step by step progress of the last time I wiped my arse!

The Elephant eventually stopped and thank god was just testing us. One more foot the driver said and It was engine on, foot down and a life or death Wacky race. However it didn’t. Instead it turned and walked away happy to let us off with a warning because Elephants are quality and our sense of fear probably appealed to its good nature or something. (I don’t know,I’m not fucking Davie Attenborough)

The next few nights were spent in another lodge again right on the river. We got to see hippos, crocodiles etc and just generally experience Namibia in all it’s glory.

Finally, after a short drive through Botswana and what seemed like years in arduous Border Crossings we arrived in Zimbabwe and the Victoria falls not long after. The falls itself is one of those few places in the world that lives up to the  expectation and genuinely takes your breath away.

I cant really add much else to that other than you should go and experience it for your self so you can truly appreciate it. It’s beyond words.

The Victoria Falls

The area itself is full of other things to do in and around the falls, namely the world famous bungee jump. With the falls in the backdrop the bungee is situated on the bridge connecting Zimbabwe with Zambia. Why is it world famous?? Well it’s one of the highest in the world and an Australian woman  last year had the cord snap, sending her plummeting into the ferocious rapids below, somehow surviving and making news headlines across the globe.

I had decided long before the start of the trip that I was going to do the jump so the moment had been building slowly over several months. I wouldn’t say I have Vertigo but I do have a sickening fear of falling off something high.

The morning of the jump I was crippled with nerves to the point I barely said a word until we arrived at the bridge.A friend and I both signed up to do it and sadly for me I was unable to watch anyone jump before hand so my sub-conscious couldn’t see how easy it was. Luckily Zimbabwe and Zambia are renowned for their strict health and safety protocols not to mention their amour for Westerners.

Gay Bungee

Standing like a young, nervous, homosexual about to vigorously lose his virginity to an over zealous black man, I prepped myself to Jump. Most people try and focus on their motivation or find their happy place. Instead, I started to reflect on the step by step process of the last time I …

Somehow, I managed to launch myself  head first off a bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe in the backdrop of the Victoria Falls (Boom!). Due to my far from regular starting position I began to spin wildly like one of those clover thingies that fall off trees. The ones that you can pick up and they spin like helicopters. Like a beige, brown colour. Jesus, I’ve not seen them in ages.

With dehydrated piss filling up my 8 quid, Matalan Union Flag shorts bought at the height of British Olympic hysteria, I finally came to a stop. I had survived. The post bungee feeling is very bizarre, a mixture of relief and euphoria. In the end though, Numero  1 on the bucket list had been ticked off and I had sort of conquered a fear.

Next on the list was the infamous Zambezi white water rafting. Known as the most dangerous commercial water raft in the world, there were no nerves just excitement. We would start under the falls in the early morning then raft well into the afternoon. The river was infested with Crocodiles and the rafting came with a guarantee that you WOULD fall in. Apparently only small crocodiles can survive falling the falls therefore don’t possess a threat. Seemingly crocodiles never grow up! I went overboard a grand total of 3 times and possibly spent more time underwater than I did on the water. I can say though, that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Grade 5 rapids and helicopters flying  full speed though the gorge were just a couple of highlights.

Zimbabwe was rounded off with a farewell drinking session where I met the most inspiring and caring person of my life. I’m not one for serendipity so I will leave it at that. Zimbabwe had left its mark.

Now we were on our way home and luxury lodges were now replaced with good old fashioned camping…in the wild…next to rivers…and hippos and stuff. At one point I went for a simple midday slash behind the tent only to look up and have a sunbathing hippo staring  back at me. Not since I mistook that Glasgow tanning booth for a portalloo had I encountered  such a large and fierce bathing creature.

Men often get stage fright, for some reason I had the opposite. Staring back at the most dangerous animal in Africa not only did I not turn and run…I started pissing towards his face while I gazed back into his eyes. What was I playing at??  Most prostitutes will draw the line at that. Anyway, we found out that Hippo always sunbathes their and is used to people. We were assured it was the same hippo, it must put its towel down in the morning or something.

The trip continued with more camping and wild animal encounters. We must have seen in excess of 1000 Elephants. There was Elephant shit everywhere! That’s all fine and dandy but people just pick it up. It’s like the African version of snow. “Oh look love, this Elephant shit is perfect, grab the kids we can make an Igloo!”

I won’t do Africa a dis-justice though. We encountered Lions in Botswana as well as Namibia let alone the Rhino, Giraffe and plethora of other majestic animals the roam the lands of Africa. Simply put, I could go on and on about the experiences of that single 2 week road trip but I would be writing a novel. If you haven’t been you have to go! The Victoria Falls will leave you mesmerized, the wildlife is what makes Africa and I wont even get started with the landscape, the food or the beer.

That 2 weeks set up the next 2 years of travelling for me. It literally changed my life. Without being overly profound or lucid, the experience is nearly indescribable. I’ve tried my best.

People often say the line “remember how lucky you are.”  However that’s not human nature. All you can do is appreciate what you have and put yourself in desirable situations!

Don’t believe me??? Go to AFRICA!