Sent to Coventry
I’d never been to Coventry before. I never have since.
My mate is driving me through Northampton countryside, heading for the town centre and the delights of a four hour National Express journey back to my Manchester home. It’s a worryingly hot summer’s day in 2007. The radio is too much for my hungover head. I switch it off and look across the rolling fields with a resignation. I will vomit. But when?
Pulling into the town, the time is now. Somewhere, anywhere, just park. Let me out. I will find my way to the coach. I step out, my wedding suit crumpled and beer stained. What a night! But our dance off and the joyous celebrations of our friend’s wedding not my focus now.
My friend drives off, glimpsing in his wing mirror to see my fallen figure stumble, still pissed, in the direction of a public toilet. Swaying, I find sanctuary from passersby behind the facility. Bent double like I’ve just completed a marathon, I hurl all over the grass. This is a low.
Where am I? Where’s the coach station? God, this is going to be a long day.
Wiping myself clean, I stumble in the direction of a park and some station signs. I am not well. The heat is not helping. I stink.
Halfway through the park, I pick up an ice lolly and some water. Not the magic bullet I had hoped for.
Fortunately, or perhaps by some evolutionary survival instinct I navigate my way to the coach station. This journey will be hellish. I can still feel the alcohol pumping around my veins. It must find its way out.
Fantasies of a coach just for me fall by the wayside. I take a window seat. Annoyingly the coach fills up.
We’re off. I can’t see me making Manchester. Minutes into the journey, sickly sweat seeps from my skin. So claustrophobic. Need clean air. I feel like I’m on Mars in Total Recall. Must go to toilet. Must vomit. I stand up with focus and ashen faced, sway past a packed coach. Some disapproving glances cast my way.
Don’t judge me. We are all riding the National Express.
‘It’s engaged mate’ gleefully says some burly guy blocking my way, clearly aware of my desperate need.
Defeated, I sit back down. I can’t puke up on here. On a National Express. I’m better than that, I think, I hope.
Must get off. Now. A sign. Like an Oasis in the desert; Coventry. Work is not happening tomorrow.
Stumbling out of the coach, I feel a sense of achievement not having puked up. Sometimes, it’s the little things in life.
Must… vomit….but.. not here. Too many people.
Staggering a few metres away like a punch drunk boxer, I throw up all over the high street. Vomit splatters the ground and my black shoes. What an image of beauty I am.
But. Relief. It’s good to be in Coventry.
Disorientated, I amble around the city in search of shelter. I find a hotel which wants around a ton for the night. That’s not in my budget so I meander on, finally stumbling upon the delightfully named ‘Belinda’s Guest House’.
Belinda doesn’t judge me. She accepts me for who I am. Accepting my £30 for the night, we exchange pleasantries as I head to bed. Manchester will wait.