After enjoying the smooth, husky pitter patter of Loyle Carner’s voice live in the flesh, your night’s taken a more debaucherous detour. Soaked through every orifice by the pissing rain but warmed by company of your good friends, you’ve gone to Yates and bought a few cheap pints to get nice and pissed. Maybe a couple of nice bright blue pitchers as well, the details are always hazy. But it’s nice and cheap. There’s an old noncey bloke who’s there on his own, too pissed to recognise that the 15-year-old girls he’s dancing with are bullying him. They’re pointing and laughing when his back’s turned, but keeping his pickle tickled by touching him all over and, in a circle surrounding him, slut-dropping in sync. It’s a well-oiled routine and he’s being nicely done over.

After getting the most you can out of Yates on a Thursday night, you leave nice and squiffy towards The Artful Dodger, at a club you’ve only been to once before. You remembered it being pretty shit but it was over a year ago. When you eventually shuffle in past the bouncers, your heart drops: it definitely is shit. It’s a tragic scene. A sensory overload of sticky floors, pumping house (not garage) and the smell of Jaeger Bombs sidles over to greet you and ushers you in. Sick Chirpse has organised the night and they’ve stuck Bigger Than Barry on as a support act, which has nicely filled the cunt quota for the night. You decide to get as fucked as your money will allow so that you can at least enjoy the two Artful Dodger songs you actually know.

Your mind wanders… It’s a shame Craig David isn’t there… He probably wouldn’t do Fill Me In anyway.

The girl you kissed last weekend’s over there… You’re not certain you want to see her, but then again you are pretty pissed and you go up to her and sort of try to look friendly. You end up kissing again, and get a few drinks whilst moaning about how you hoped this place wasn’t as shit as you remembered but it actually is and that you’re disappointed about it. Sort of insinuating that you’re too cool to be there, even though you know you’re not and you go on ‘shit’ nights out all the time. She suggests you leave, and you tell her to come to yours. The November air’s cold and makes the 40 minute stumble home unbearable. You decide to put your jacket over her, gritting your teeth and wondering why the fuck she didn’t just bring one herself – what the fuck! After a while, she gives it back to you and says it’s obvious you’d rather wear it than give it to her; you resist for a minute but then boozily snatch your jacket back off her and put it on.

Opening your door, your heart sinks slightly as you hear laughter in the kitchen, as the smell of hash wafts gently down the corridor. Everyone’s really enjoying the fact that you’ve brought someone back; they’re grinning and very obviously trying to catch your eye in their shriveled, reddened gazes… You swiftly take your companion up to your room… You don’t have a condom. The girls asks “are you clean?” in a gently accusatory tone. You are. You have sex. The next morning, she borrows your jumper for the walk home (why the fuck didn’t she bring a jacket) and you exchange a few messages without ever meeting up again.

Two weeks pass. Your knob is sore. It’s a bit red, and very sore. You’re playing 5-A-Side football with your housemates and you can’t stop readjusting your naughty manservant.

A month passes. The symptoms persist. You go to the STD clinic one morning at 8am before your seminar, feeling queasy with nerves and tiredness. The clinic’s a depressing, but at the same time intriguing place. There’s a mix of everyone from all levels of society: Middle-aged businessmen, single mums, students, young teenagers, all united by a common fear. You try to work out what everyone’s doing there then realise it makes you really uncomfortable so you put your head down and wonder what’s wrong with your poor willy and why you didn’t just wear a condom. Fuck you Yates and fuck off Artful Dodger, you big twat.



 We sweated our way down to a shitty Hanoi travel agents. It was the kind of travel agents one only finds in Hanoi, complete with a gorgeous Clip Art logo. We were there because we wanted to see Ha Long Bay, obviously, but didn’t want to spend any money. People assure me that you can have a lovely time in Ha Long Bay if you’re happy to spend money; in South East Asia, you generally face the consequences of your decisions if you’re too frugal with your cash. We were reeled in by this particular tour because it was half the price of its better-known, main contender, whose clientele consists of the kind of ‘fuckboys’ you actually go to Vietnam to avoid – you go halfway round the world and they’re still fucking there. These are, of course, the invariably big boys that probably treat travelling as a pilgrimage of happy endings and full moon parties. At uni, they’ll probably land on their feet as a club rep for Pryzm, guiding their young disciples to the promised land of VKs and titties. Maybe they’ll also become a staple name on The Tab’s prestigious ‘BNOC’ feature, which is like winning the Nobel Prize of uni… Anything’s possible if you work hard.

In the cheaper travel agents, the big welsh bloke’s sales tactic was a two-pronged attack: a base of gratuitous mocking, complemented by a flurry of misogynistic remarks. If you grew up in Salisbury – or any rural armpit – you become an accomplished handler of such situations. In this situation, you just nod along and feel quietly guilty for not challenging the bigger boys’ intolerant views. In the end, we didn’t like the idea of paying double the price just to be made to shotgun beers all day on a boat with a bunch of twats, so we went for the welshman’s lucky dip, budget option.

I can’t honestly recommend this train crash of a tour enough. The tour guide, if he’s still out there, is called Zoom, and I was really pleasantly surprised to discover that someone like this a) – exists and b) – can make a living as the custodian for the lives of tourists on a small, water-borne vessel. Sharply dressed in a jazzy little number, Zoom arrived late and broke the ice by shouting jokes at us in a jarring mix of Vietnamese and English. Later on in the evening, after getting nice and pissed as the sun set over Ha Long Bay, Zoom sat on the edge of the boat, swaying, whilst his eyes rolled back into themselves with a look of ecstasy. I’m not sure that he wasn’t pinging.

After making sure we all put our beersies down to somersault off the top of the boat into the bay’s suspiciously warm waters, Zoom sat us all down in a circle and produced a briefcase. Instead of the itinerary which I assumed was inside, the briefcase housed Zoom’s paraphernalia. The first item was a large, hand-crafted bamboo bong, and the second was an excitingly unorthodox sex toy which had a large, pulsating rubber tongue atop a chunky vibrator. With a cheeky look emerging behind his clouded eyes, Zoom went about his official business of a systematic assault on all of his passengers: he would cheekily kiss the gyrating rubber tongue against his target’s neck from behind, wait until they turned around and then offer them the bong by way of initiation. After carrying out his boozy assault with military precision, a big bunch of his cronies moored up and boarded our boat with cheap Vietnamese voddy and ciggies for all to share.

There’s one particular image which stands out as having permanently branded my memory. At night, a mate and I tried to throw our room key from Zoom’s boat across to the mutineers’ vessel (for a laugh), and obviously it fell in the water. We stood and watched gormlessly as it gurgled into the stinky depths. Pissed and feeling like naughty schoolboys, we went in to the boat’s kitchen/dining room/bong area to find Zoom and ask for a spare key. We found him, sweaty, stripped down to his underpants, sprawled on his back on top of the table, very much asleep and confused. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but he did eventually manage to tuck his stiffy away and find us another key. What a strange life.

The scenery at Ha Long Bay is wicked cool, but our strange little tour guide stole the show with his subtle wit and raw sex appeal. Each night I watched his pissed-up soliloquy unfold… Sat on the railing of the top deck, puffing on his bong and sipping voddy(/cleaning fluid) from the bottle, his eyes whitened as the sky oranged behind him. I like to think he’s still out there now. You should go and find him.