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Strange nights spent away from where you normally sleep (usually no beds involved)

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    I really hope you find ways to put all these posts together - a bit like your friend’s bunk bed /desk combo


      2013: after the wedding but before I gave birth I had too much time on my hands. I was still working a little bit for the bikini company, going to antenatal classes and taking myself swimming, but I was still twiddling my thumbs a lot.

      One day, I found an envelope on the underground. It had two first names on the envelope. I opened it up and found a wedding card and £100 cash. I wanted to return it to the rightful owner but didn't have much to go on. The card inside was also signed by two further first names.

      As I had so much free time, I launched a full investigation. The givers of the card had slightly unusual first names and I managed to find a wedding blog that featured their wedding which told me their married surname. With that information I found the givers on Facebook. I tried sending the woman a message, but as we weren't friends it went straight to her spam inbox. So I then trawled her Facebook friends list and found two people who were likely to be the recipients of the card (same first names and most recent profile pictures in bride and groom outfits). I would have faced the same difficulty sending them a Facebook message, but I now had the recipients surnames. A further Google search showed that the groom was on a rugby committee somewhere, which mentioned his place of work. That workplace had a very generic email system, so I sent him an email and waited. I had asked for him to confirm where the card was dropped and who it was from. He replied within the day, very pleased and surprised that I'd been able to track him down, and I sent the card off recorded delivery.

      Anyway, that story was not a sleeping in a weird place one, it's just the backdrop to show the type of investigatory skills I was employing at the time. Later that year when I was sitting in the rocking chair with my daughter at all hours of the night, I had to use them for something much more serious.

      My daughter was about five weeks old, it was 3am in my red rocking chair in the lounge, and I was flicking through Facebook to stop me falling asleep. A girl I knew from school, but who I hadn't been in touch with that recently, posted a goodbye suicide note on Facebook. It seemed very serious and very final. I felt a huge responsibility to alert the relevant people but I didn't know how to. I ended up waking up my husband to look after our daughter while I employed my spy skills. Through a combination of past Facebook posts, photos, Google maps, street view, etc, I found the girl's address and sent an ambulance to her flat. I managed to find her mum's phone number from the electoral role and inform her. It was all quite stressful and I was having to intermittently breastfeed my daughter as well. The girl had made a suicide attempt, but she survived and went home to stay at her mum's for a bit.


        Holy moly, that is some story Balderdasha. Well done!


          What an odd thread.

          But fair play, for all these strange tales I suppose.


            Can't hold a candle the number and variety of Balderdasha's tales, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading in bits and pieces over the last few days, but here goes...

            Spring 1996: Got the train down from Leuchars to Cambridge for a friend's birthday party. This turned out to be a very strange affair, things were alternately boring as hell and then totally out of hand, some people got chased out of the flat, I nearly got kicked out, then spent a couple of hours consoling an angry and distraught birthday boy and trying to explain that shit happens sometimes. At some point, I ended up asleep on the concrete floor next to the washing machine. That was not a comfortable place to kip, I woke very early and headed off to the station to start my long and winding journey back north.

            June 1997: I was approaching the end of my year as a teaching assistant in Hanover and had been going to watch Hannover 96 regularly throughout the season. A few of the lads in the Abitur class that I had conversation classes with were in the fan club and got tickets for the second leg of the play-off tie against Energie Cottbus, which would decide who got promoted to the 2. Liga. These tickets were like gold dust at the time, 96 had sold out the old Niedersachsenstadion for the first leg (which I also managed to get to, as another teacher had a ticket going spare) and the interest in the second leg was massive. We got the cheapest possible ticket for the journey, changing several times (including a police escort from platform to platform in Berlin) and taking increasingly decrepit regional trains the closer we got to Cottbus. The experience as a whole was pretty horrendous once we arrived: outright hostility from every person we met in Cottbus, police escort to the ground, people throwing stuff from the tower blocks as we were marched to the 'Stadion der Freundschaft' (oh how we laughed at that one), home fans trying to scale the fences around the away sector when the floodlights failed, the snack hut at the back of the terrace being torched as 96 slumped to a 3-1 defeat and then having groups of Cottbus idiots trying to break through the police lines as we were being herded back to the station. We just piled on to the only available train, the fans' special - no tickets, but no-one cared. It took for bloody ever to get back to Hanover and we had to wait for an age in the middle of nowhere for an ambulance that carted someone off to hospital with alcohol poisoning. Didn't get a wink of sleep, walked back to my flat in the Südstadt, showered and changed and then staggered over to the school to sit in the staff room and drink coffee.

            March 2001: Bayern v. Arsenal in the Champions League, a few of us got tickets for the match and headed down to Bavaria. We had booked a compartment on a night train back to Karlsruhe but it transpired that Our Man With The Tickets had mislaid them somewhere during the day. We did manage to buy tickets for a later train, but with no reservations – most of the seats were taken and when a couple of us lay down in the corridor between two carriages, the ticket inspectors woke us up and moved us on. Wandered down the train to find the toilet occupied by two lads smoking weed, then gave up on sleep and watched Günzburg, Ulm etc. roll by as morning approached.

            June 2003: Went out for a drink with a lady I had been seeing on and off for a few months, to try and establish what the situation was. Went for a bite to eat and ended up in the Schlupfloch in Walldorf, an underground bar in the cellar of one of the building behind the Hauptstraße. No windows, no clock, and no-one ever checked to make sure that it really closed at 3am. We rolled out of there as the sun was coming up, greeted by birdsong and the realization that it was 5:45 on a Friday morning and I had to be in work at 8. Bollocks.

            July 2003: SAP football tournament in Rettigheim. We qualified from the group matches during the week and made it to the knockout tournament on Saturday, I think we got to the last 16 before bowing out to the semi-pro players from Walldorf who also worked in HR and Logistics at SAP. The Ireland and UK offices had sent several teams and quite a few supporters over as well, there was live music and at some point the organisers announced that all the remaining beer and wine was now free… when the party finished, there were no cabs to be had and there was no way I fancied the 10km walk home. Two of us ended up asleep in a bus stop in the middle of the village just before dawn, before being woken by a passing taxi driver. “You English? You go Walldorf?” Oh yes. I love you, random taxi man.
            Last edited by JVL; 21-07-2019, 14:47.



                Thanks for that, Sporting - I've never seen those highlights.

                Gerald Asamoah, Otto Addo, Dieter Hecking... there were some good players in that 96 team, and some clogging Regionalliga journeymen. I'd forgotten about the red card for Cottbus too!


                  2011-2014: when I first met my husband he was already running management training courses, most often in London, but sometimes in other UK or European cities. If he was running a course for two days or more, he'd get hotel accommodation as part of the deal. So, from fairly early on in our relationship we figured out that this was a good way for us to visit places together. I'd arrange to work remotely. We had a two together train card to reduce the travel costs. If the course was close to a weekend, we'd extend the hotel stay by a day or two and go and explore a new city.

                  We carried on with this pattern after our daughter was born, so she spent quite a lot of her first year being weaned on hotel breakfasts and hanging out in obscure museums.

                  We visited all the glamorous places: Manchester, Ipswich, Cheltenham, Oxford, the Cotswolds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff, Vienna. We turned down a trip to Saudi Arabia, my husband did that one on his own.

                  A few memories of these trips.
                  - in Cheltenham we were staying near an industrial park on the outskirts. My daughter was learning to crawl so we hung out at a DFS where we could play in the fake sitting rooms.
                  - at one hotel, we arrived quite late, and the reception had no record of our request for a travel cot. Our daughter was asleep in her pushchair so my husband wasn't worried but I sat on the floor and cried and thought I was a terrible mother. The receptionist found a cot from the hotel next door.
                  - we once got stranded at a train interchange somewhere. We were laden with heavy bags, tired, our daughter was cranky. I made some sort of throw-away comment that I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for refugees travelling with children, because I was finding this hard enough. My husband misinterpreted it as me being melodramatic. Three generations of his family have actually been refugees, and he just started pointing out that we were in a cafe with armchairs and access to coffee, so we weren't exactly destitute.
                  - Cardiff was unexpectedly lovely (unexpected purely because I knew nothing before I went. I was completely ignorant). We went a couple of times and enjoyed the museums, the parks, the boat rides, pretending we were in Torchwood, eating in nice restaurants.
                  - in Vienna I got flu. I had a horrific temperature, was convulsing and shivering. If I had been left on my own in the hotel room to look after our daughter, I don't know how I'd have done it. Coincidentally though, the course my husband was meant to run had been cancelled (and at such short notice that he'd still be paid for it), so he looked after us. We saw very little of Vienna but did make it to the palace near our hotel when I was a little recovered, which had an exhibition of Klimt paintings. At the time, we had a Klimt print in our lounge which we called 'the booby lady' and she was the first image my daughter had smiled or laughed at. Every time we held her up to the print she would break out in beaming grins. It took her another couple of months to smile at a live human being. We found the original of the painting in the Vienna exhibition and took a photo of our daughter with it.


                    January 2014: we decided to attempt our first date night. Our daughter was five months old. She was a terrible sleeper, but had just about got into a pattern where she would go down at 7pm and maybe sleep three hours until 10pm. My mum had agreed to babysit. We rushed around doing dinner, bath, story and bedtime for our daughter and got her to sleep in her cot. Then we quickly threw on the fanciest clothes we'd worn in months (a dress! heels!) and prepared to leave. As I passed my daughter's bedroom door I said to my husband in a puzzled tone 'why can I hear running water in our daughter's room?' My husband is always much faster than me to respond to emergencies, and knew there was no good reason to hear running water, so he immediately dashed into the bedroom. Boiling, dirty water was streaming through the ceiling, fortunately a foot away from our daughter's cot. My husband grabbed our daughter, who screamed at the indignity of being woken up for the first time in her life. I took thirty seconds of footage of the streaming water on my phone (I knew how crappy our landlord was) and then ran to the flat upstairs.

                    The guy upstairs was still dressed in his suit from work and looked shell shocked. The boiler had exploded just as he walked into the flat. He was trying to turn the water off but hadn't found the right valve yet.

                    We spent the rest of the evening / night catching water with buckets and baby baths, moving the sodden mattress out of the way, relocating my daughter's cot to the other bedroom, trying to calm my daughter down.

                    Date night was, obviously, cancelled. It took us a long time to attempt another one.


                      March 2014. I was invited to a hen do somewhere in the Cotswolds. I was exclusively breastfeeding our daughter still, aside from starting her on a few purees, and I hadn't got on well with a breast pump (while I produced loads of milk for our daughter, I could sit there for hours with a breast pump, trying to look at photos of my daughter to stimulate milk production and my body just went, nope, that is not a real baby, we will not be fooled, and shut down production). So the only way to go to the hen do was if my daughter came with me. Coincidentally, my husband was doing some work in Cheltenham the day before, so we all went there overnight and then caught a taxi to the village where the hen do was and rented a room at the nearby pub. I alternated between going to the hen do for a few hours (which was in a rented cottage and involved one game where we made bikinis out of tin foil) and then popping back to the pub to breastfeed my daughter. My husband had the job of entertaining her while I was away.

                      I left the hen do for the last time around midnight then brought my daughter back for breakfast the next day. She rolled around the carpet while various hungover women cooed at her. My husband then took her for another couple of hours while we went on a country walk, got lost and got chased by a herd of cows. I fed my daughter on my return and then went to order a taxi to the train station. It took a while, I had to phone about six different companies before I found one that was running on a Sunday and by the time I got back my husband had the sort of ashen-faced demeanour that I would associate with someone returning from the Somme. He'd apparently done four nappy changes, two full outfit changes, had to clean the pub floor because of overflow from the changing mat, and had been cursing me the whole time I was gone.


                        Another great story. Funnily enough, I've never attended a stag do in my life: in the wrong place at the wrong time, friends simply not getting married or if they did then forgoing the stag/hen night. What I most certainly would not like to do is have to wear a matching t-shirt and drink ten piña coladas in half an hour in somewhere like Magaluf. However, making bikinis out of tin foil kinda attracts. I wonder if Blue Peter ever did anything similar.
                        Last edited by Sporting; 23-07-2019, 05:24.


                          I can't hold a candle to most of this thread but for what it's worth here's the only one which springs to mind from my sheltered existence.

                          September 1984, the future Mrs. S (just 19) and I (20) took our first holiday together having got engaged a month earlier. We were skint but wanted to go overseas so booked a Eurocamp holiday in Fréjus, with overnight stops in Maçon (on the way) and Reims on the return. It goes without saying I completely underestimated the distances involved as sole driver - even with my youth.

                          We were in our first "shared" car, a crap but beloved 1979 Triumph Dolomite (see Old Cars Which Still Look Tremendous thread for a pic taken later on this trip). This was long before the tunnel or M25 so just getting from Maidenhead to Dover for a night Sealink was a slog. We landed in Calais some time around 1am and I proceeded (momentarily on the wrong side of the road before remembering) due east into Belgium.

                          Having corrected this detour, off we headed. This being long before GPS, I had prepared a written route, and Mrs. S' job was to talk me through the roads, towns and villages along the way. We still do this today albeit Mrs. S now uses a map app. My eyesight must have been pretty sharp at 20. Nowadays the idea of driving any distance in the dark gives me the jitters, let alone barrelling along unknown roads in the dark on the wrong side of the road.

                          When you start falling asleep at the wheel, the problem is that you lose the rationality to realise the danger. Anyway by the time we got to St. Dizier (about 240 miles) it got too much. We pulled over away from the main road, nosing up to a plane tree. Pushed the seats back and crashed.

                          Not sure what time it was when we were awoken by the sounds of aluminium poles, canvas and polythene sheeting, as we rubbed our eyes to see the town market being built around us. A hurried exit followed by a much needed breakfast and coffee.

                          Sits: living on the edge.
                          Last edited by Sits; 23-07-2019, 05:25.


                            No, that's a nice story. Thanks.


                              Well it's a shared memory we both still treasure. Thanks Sporting.


                                Back in 1985 my sister and her husband were staying in a rented flat in Perth Road, London. Paul, then a salesman, also lived there. I visited one night and we had a load of scotch and I fell asleep on the sofa bed. In the morning I awoke to find myself in a different room. Only it wasn't. When I crashed out the three of them had moved out the furniture (table, chairs, wardrobe etc) as well as photos and so on, and replaced all these with a bed, a different table and other photos and assorted bric a brac. The sense of disorientation was really bewildering, I'm sure they had fun doing it...

                                Years later I met Paul again in more serious circumstances: my brother-in-law's funeral. The story which follows isn't a strange night one but I'll tell it anyway. As I mentioned on another thread he died suddenly at the age of 49. I travelled to the funeral.

                                This went as well as these things can do: there were loads of people there, some of the kids gave little speeches, one sang a song, my sister gave a very moving speech herself, there were songs, some tears, etc. After there was a reception in a pub with lots of beer, food, chat, etc.

                                Funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. While the immediate family went in hearses, funeral and other private cars, I was to get a lift from some other guest who would come first, as many did, to my sister's house. My lift turned out to be this old friend of the family, Paul, who I'd met about 25 or more years ago. Now Paul has his finger in many pies, but one of them is that he's a London cab driver, with his own black cab, which he drove up to Suffolk in. Now he didn't know exactly where the crematorium was so Rachel gave him the poscode which he punched into his satnav. Off we went, plenty of time to spare, towards Bury St. Edmonds. Approaching the town, Paul suddenly turned off down a country lane...the sat.nav told him to go that way. After about ten minutes of going down increasingly narrower lanes we came to the opinion that the postcode we'd been given was wrong. So we made our way into Bury and stopped at a pub to ask the way. Outside in the courtyard with a pint each were two middle-aged, fairly burly blokes. "Excuse me," said Paul, "can you tell us where the crematorium is?" One of the men answered, "I dunno where the fucking crematorium is but it's where the fucking stiffs fucking go, innit?!" His mate, seeing we were suited up, told him to pay some respect and that he would do us a map. We went inside to have a quick pint (well, you can't park outside a pub and not go in, can you?).

                                After about 5 minutes, the drunk agressive bloke came in and said to Paul, "Hey, you've got a fucking taxi, ain't ya? I need a lift!" Paul told him that we had to run a small errand first and then we'd be back to help him out (lying of course). The bloke went out again, we finisthed our pints, and armed now with precise directions wondered how to get to the taxi without the bloke trying to get in as well. on going outside, however, we discovered he'd found a local taxi into which he was getting. They started off, so did we, but about half a minute into our journey we saw the same bloke running down the middle of the road hailing our taxi. He must have lasted all of half a minute in the local cab before the driver had told him to fuck off out of it. Paul slowed down, made sure all the doors were locked, and then as our friend was about to try to open the door, sped off down the road, and towards the crematorium.

                                After the funeral I went to the reception with my other sister who'd come directly to the crematorium. Paul didn't know where the reception was going to be held so followed a couple of cars on the way out under the assumption that they were going too. Only they weren't going directly; they were teachers from one of the children's schools who had to go back again to work to do some admin stuff or whatever before heading off later to the pub. So Paul's taxi pulled up into the parking area of a primary school with Paul wondering whether it was normal for a pub to be so near such a building.
                                Last edited by Sporting; 23-07-2019, 05:52.


                                  Summer 2014: the wedding of my best friend from age 9-11 years old. Due to my propensity for leaving hotel bookings to the last minute, and also my terrible geography, we ended up in a hotel 17 miles down the coast from the wedding venue, and we don't drive.

                                  I was giving a reading at the wedding, the lovely one about two tree roots becoming intertwined. My husband jiggled our daughter in the baby Bjorn carrier at a discreet distance to stop her screaming at the delay to her feed. After the ceremony, things were more relaxed. My daughter sat on the lawn, a muslin draped around her frou-frou dress in a vain attempt to protect it, contentedly eating fistfuls of Eton mess out of a bowl. Later on we changed her into her pyjamas and walked her around the grounds in her pushchair and, miraculously, she fell asleep. We stayed out for a couple more hours, having a very rare tipple, and then, deciding we were pushing our luck, tried to order a taxi.

                                  Turns out coastal towns late at night are not renowned for having as many taxis as central London. We ended up waiting over an hour, during which time our daughter woke up, cranky and confused. We strapped her into the baby Bjorn again, this time on me, facing outwards, and I took her into the disco room for a fluorescent-lit boogie with the drunken mother-of-the-bride. The total shock stopped her burgeoning cries and, once we eventually got a taxi, she fell asleep again in the car seat, and transferred to her cot at the hotel with relative ease.

                                  My husband has been fairly sceptical about my hotel booking skills ever since.


                                    The memory of another weird evening has just surfaced in my mind and must be recorded for posterity before it sinks again under the weight of non-league trivia and the terminology for the tedious project I'm working on at the moment.

                                    Anyway. It was the spring of 2003 and a few of us flew to Barcelona for the weekend to see the city and get in a game at the Camp Nou. We booked an eight-bed room in a youth hostel near Las Ramblas and, in a totally unsurprising turn of events, both days started off sedately enough before turning into total nonsense. The city: fantastic, so much to see. The food and drink: equally marvellous. The football: the match (against Sevilla, I think) was pretty meh but just being in that stadium was an experience in itself. Some of the gentlemen in our party retired at a sensible time, reminding the rest of us that the hostel had a curfew and we had to be back by midnight or 1am, or spend the night locked out. That seemed like more of a challenge than a threat, so I think it was four of us decided to push on through. One of our number enjoyed a dip in the rooftop pool of a city-centre hotel simply by marching through reception like he owned the place and straight into the elevator (would most probably not be possible today with key-card access restrictions), we fended off the attentions of some ladies of negotiable affection offering blow jobs for a Euro our poor planning meant that we finished off down at the harbour/marina, a long way from anywhere open (and of course we had no real idea of where we were in relation to the rest of the city). Walking back along a main thoroughfare, the sound of subway trains could be heard emanating from the steps down to a station. My Mackem mate and I decided to take a look, legged it down the stairs, hurdled the barriers and jumped on a train just as it was pulling out. We must have fallen asleep fairly quickly, and woke up a couple of hours later, in total darkness. The train was in sidings somewhere, and the driver had either not checked or just decided to leave us where we were. What to do but wipe the drool off your chin and go back to sleep? Woke again as the train was trundling through the town, got a few curious looks from commuters, and then back out into the morning sun and off for breakfast.


                                      Originally posted by Sporting View Post
                                      Is there a two hour limit in all of them? Surely tired drivers should be encouraged to sleep instead of potentially putting themselves and others at risk. Is space so limited or is it just profit making?
                                      The two hour limit on parking spaces triggered another memory.

                                      2009: I was living in Camden with the graffiti boyfriend. A load of his friends were planning a trip camping and surfing in Cornwall. I didn't fancy surfing but the idea of a beach holiday appealed. I hired a car and, after a long day at work, started driving my boyfriend and two of his friends down to Cornwall. I'd forgotten how far the drive was, especially as the sole driver. Around 11pm, I announced that we'd have to stop as I wasn't safe to drive any more. We tried to book rooms at a Travelodge, but there were no spaces available so we just kipper in the car at the car park. I didn't know about the two hour limit and we slept maybe four hours before setting off again.

                                      The holiday itself was a mixed bag. The campsite had a coin-operated hot shower and we never had enough twenty pence pieces for a decent wash. There was a German couple staying with us. Their tent fell apart on the first day, but the guy resurrected all the tent poles as an amazing ramshackle barbecue. Fortunately, some of the other guys had a massive scout troop style tent that everyone could bunk down in. We all sat in there in the evening smoking weed and reading stories from Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk.

                                      One evening, me and my boyfriend booked a tasting menu session at Jamie Oliver's restaurant. We rocked up in flip flops and beach gear, with matted hair from the lack of shower, and enjoyed the looks of mild disgust on the faces of the other diners. I remember the olives tasting particularly good. On the days the others went surfing, I built a huge sandcastle with a cheerful, slightly tubby mechanic.

                                      The only thing that really bugged me, was that the couple who cadged a lift off us didn't offer to pay for any of the petrol. They spent a long time bemoaning how little money they had and then bought themselves brand new, top of the range surfing outfits. I asked my boyfriend to talk to them about it, but he was someone who always avoided confrontation and he demurred.

                                      The drive back was another long slog, but at least another guy hitched a lift and he could actually map read (my boyfriend had never driven so having him in the passenger seat was worse than useless). We failed to return the car in time the next morning and got fined about £200 for that infringement, so when the fine for staying in the Travelodge carpark too long came through a week later I was less than impressed. I think the car hire company also claimed for a non-existent scratch.

                                      My poor husband wonders why I'm so against renting cars.


                                        Like most people who’ve travelled on a budget, I’ve spent uncomfortable but unremarkable nights in cars, bus shelters, on station platforms, traffic islands or sometimes hillsides or beaches. The wettest was in a monastery on Emei Shan in Sichuan. The one I’m proudest fo surviving was on a waiting room floor on Delhi Cantt Station. The scariest was on a bus.

                                        It was 2012. I’d been trekking in Ladakh, stayed longer than intended and was late to meet a friend in Ambala. So I decided to do the one-push trip from Leh to Manali. It’s 500km on dicey roads and usually done in two days with an overnight break at a dhaba somewhere.

                                        The bus left at 2am filled with about a dozen or so Israelis, the four Ladakhi crew and me. In my dozy early-hours daze, I’d forgotten that the road south from Leh crosses a number of passes and a plateau, at times over 5000m. So, fucking cold - especially at night, and I’d only pushed a light fleece into my daypack. My warmer stuff was in my rucksack, lashed to the roof of the bus under everyone else’s kit as my obsession with being on time had got me there and loaded first.

                                        After a bit it became apparent that the bus wasn’t in a good a state. For a kick-off, the windows didn’t close, so as we rattled along, the frigid night air poured through the gaps and added to my misery. Then, just as I’d got my shivering into sufficient sync to wonder if I might grab some kip, the electrics on the bus failed. The crew spent 20 minutes unspooling spaghettied wires from beneath the dashboard before deciding that a full moon-and-torch combo gave them all the light they needed. They were largely untroubled by the sudden deceleration and splash when we drove into a small river. They were, necessarily, more taken aback by the boulder we smashed in to, which buckled some unspecified bit of the undercarriage, and brought us to halt.

                                        About an hour of sub-zero rock-wedging, levering; smashing things with stones to shift or reshape them, then winding them with (possibly, redundant electrical) wire to hold them in place, and we moved off again. But more slowly now. In some respects this was a plus as it felt safer. On the other hand, it was more sleepless shivering and we were losing time, which later came to be significant.

                                        Finally it became light and we were able to stop for tea and another session of wedging, levering and bashing. It became apparent that we were suffering from some damage to the suspension that required us to limp along for the rest of the day, the driver correcting a continual veer to the right and making frequent repair stops. We should have been at Manali by mid-evening, but when we reached Keylong it was already starting to get dark. Ahead of us was the Rohtang La which we’d intended to cross by daylight. And the lights still weren’t working.

                                        It started to rain, which as we ascended the road towards the pass, turned to snow. It was late August and stretches of the road had been turned by glacial melt and monsoon rain into rutted, semi-liquid slush and mud. Repeatedly, we slid towards the ragged, indeterminate, unprotected, edge of the road. Each time, the driver hauled on the wheel and we slid gently on, regardless. And each time, at the last moment we somehow gained enough traction to slew back from the black chasm on our right.

                                        It was now dark but the occasional oncoming lights were no relief. They just reminded us how narrow the road, how treacherous the surface and how little control the drivers actually had. I think one of the Israelis started to pray. Then it went quiet. It was late, but no-one was sleeping. I got a brief, nervous laugh when I asked aloud if anyone surviving the fall could post my diary to my wife. It was obviously a joke. No-one survives that drop. Someone asked the Ladakhis to go back. They said no, it would be impossible to turn around and to stop would be dangerous…

                                        A second night without sleep. In all honesty, I was less worried by my own lack of rest than that of the drivers. They were now rotating every 10 minutes through sheer exhaustion. Finally, as I believed I’d descended in to some previously unrecorded Buddhist Hell, the surface suddenly improved, lights appeared and after nearly 300 miles and 22 hours on the road - but only just on the road - we trundled into Manali.

                                        It was the middle of the night again, so the usual gang of helpful auto-drivers were absent from the bus station. I walked up the road until I saw a hotel with a light on. It was a swanky affair that usually charged Rs1700 a room. I’d been living on less than Rs1200 per day but I didn’t care by then. The room had a shower, a massive TV, curtains, tiled floor, working lights and wifi, but I took no advantage of the luxury. Next day when I surfaced at around 10am, the owner said he’d only charge me Rs800 as the place was empty. He gave me breakfast for Rs50 and talked cricket for two hours, claiming to be related to Vikram Rathour, who I had to look up later, and repeatedly advancing the claim that Allan Lamb was the greatest English batsman of the last 30 years.


                                          That's triggered another memory. Probably sometime around 2006. There are Chinese buses that have bunk beds in them. Double-decker bunks along each side and then two long beds at the back that you can squeeze about four people on side by side. I have no idea where I was going from or to, or who with, I just remember marvelling that I slept the whole night pressed against male strangers and no-one attempted to fondle me.


                                            I drove to Florida once with an inexperienced driver who'd never driven manual/stick before. When I'd finally gone as far as I could - somewhere in the mountains of Virginia (West Virginia?) - we swapped places. I talked him up to highway speed ("Okay, clutch, shift...let out the clutch. Clutch, shift to third, let out the clutch. Clutch, shift to fourth....", etc) and climbed into the back seat and went to sleep. I woke up about four hours later, and it's pitch black and the water is bucketing down in biblical volumes. 18 wheelers are screaming by, throwing up waterfalls of spray on both sides, headlights and taillights glaring on the wet windows. The whole bit. And he's white-knuckled with both hands on the wheel, face pressed against the windshield in a rictus scream of blind panic. So, I talked him over to the side of the road and swapped back. He shook for the next hour as he chain smoked and then fell asleep. Poor bugger. I'd slept like a log, mind.


                                              An old one, and an odd one. 2002 again, when I was touring South America with some friends. We were in Northern Peru, staying on the beach for a couple of days before we were due to cross the border into Ecuador on foot. I was sharing a room with my boyfriend and also another male friend who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. We had a load of weed that we couldn't cross the border with so we tried to smoke too much of it and then conked out late at night. It was hot so I think I was only wearing knickers and a t-shirt when I went to sleep. When I woke up, it was pitch black and a strange guy was standing next to my bed stroking my thighs. I was too dazed to really process it, so I just tapped my boyfriend on the arm and said "hey, there's a guy in our room". As soon as I spoke, the intruder ran and crouched down at the foot of the bed. I became more conscious, sat up and shouted "hey, there's someone in our room" and the guy leapt to his feet and jumped out of the sliding door to the beach. It's worth noting here that I have truly atrocious short-sight, requiring glasses or contact lenses to see anything further away than my palm pressed against my nose, so the only thing I knew about the guy was that he was quite tall and skinny. My boyfriend was vaguely awake by this time, and my male friend woke up enough to close the sliding door and lock it. We all went back to sleep, my boyfriend cuddled me and I shuddered slightly.

                                              In the morning, I started talking about what had happened at breakfast and became gradually more furious as both my boyfriend and the other male friend questioned whether it had actually happened. I was stoned, it could have been a dream, maybe I saw something else because of my eyesight. By the time we got back to the room and discovered that both guys wallets were missing, I felt only a smug sense of "I told you so".

                                              Investigating proved complicated. Our tour guide knew the owner of the hotel. The owner was indignant that something like that might have happened in his hotel. He had a guy patrolling the beach to prevent this sort of thing. The patrol guard was duly summoned who claimed he had seen our tour guide's other friend enter the room several times and hadn't said anything because he knew we were friends. I knew very little about this friend except that he was short and stocky, not tall and thin like the guy I had seen. It seemed unlikely. The possibility was raised that the cleaners had stolen the wallets while we were at breakfast. Police arrived to take our tour guide's friend for questioning. The tour guide desperately explained to me that that meant they would try and torture a confession out of him.

                                              By this point I had no clue who had stolen wallets and fondled me, why or when. It didn't make sense. Did someone come into the room to steal wallets and then risked revealing themselves just to stroke a woman's leg? But, I didn't think it was the stocky guy and I didn't want him to be tortured even if he was guilty, so I gave evidence to the police that it wasn't him. Our last day in the hotel was fairly awkward, but we gave the owner our remaining weed as a goodwill gesture, and in turn he drove us to the border.

                                              I am pretty lucky that in terms of "Metoo" stories, that's as bad as it gets for me, but I still had surreal dreams about it for months afterwards, and got a bit obsessive about checking that doors and windows were locked.


                                                Spring 2015: another wedding. This time it was Sally, the girl I shared a flat with part-time in Chongqing. The church had a great kids area where my daughter could play with toys and read books to stop her squawking at inappropriate times. I accidently got into a "sing-off" with the groom's sister-in-law. I was standing, minding my own business, singing the hymns at a normal volume, when she came and stood right next to me, singing conspicuously louder. I used to sing in church choirs all the time as a child, and she'd already annoyed me by forcing her four-year-old son to read "hairy maclairy" out loud in a bored monotone just to prove he could, so I matched her volume. She increased the volume again. I matched it again. It got a bit silly.

                                                Anyway, after the ceremony, we all went in a bus to the hotel where the reception was being held. This time we had managed to book a room in that very hotel, not 17 miles away. We ate dinner, put our daughter in her pyjamas and repeated the trick of walking her around in her pushchair until she slept. We parked her in the corner, drank a little champagne, had a bit of a dance. It really was a lovely wedding and we got a bit soppy and romantic. We'd survived over 18 months of parenting, surely we'd been through the worst of it? Maybe we could even contemplate trying for another baby.

                                                5am in our hotel room, we were rudely awoken by the sound of vomiting. My husband again displayed his lightning fast emergency reactions and had leaped out of bed, grabbed our daughter out of the cot and into the shower before the worst of the projectile vomiting had started. She had full-blown gastroenteritis. Foolishly, we still met friends for lunch, and she threw up everywhere there as well. On the train journey back, inbetween mopping up vomit and administering calpol syringes full of dioralyte, we laughed at how unrealistic we were the previous night. Clearly we were not ready to cope with two children.

                                                It was too late, I was already pregnant with my son.


                                                  Originally posted by Balderdasha View Post

                                                  I remember meeting you and Janik, I don't remember doing a pub quiz though. I think I've met OTFers three or four times so far. Callie, TG and a couple of others in Cambridge once. One or maybe two pub outings in London. None of them were boring evenings.
                                                  I remembered another OTFer I met in a London pub once, Tubby Isaacs. He doesn't seem to be posting much any more. Anyone know how he is?


                                                    Summer 2015. Early pregnancy does not suit me well. The nausea gradually ramps up until I'm vomiting several times throughout the day, often with zero warning, so I've thrown up in bins on Clapham high street, over the railings of a very prestigious looking building near the London oratory, in a park next to a startled dog, etc. It was bad enough the first time round without the added complication of looking after a rambunctious two-year-old at the same time. During my second pregnancy I would often find myself crouched over the toilet bowl, holding my own hair out of the way, while my daughter climbed on my back cheerfully shouting 'giddy up horsie!'

                                                    Anyway, among the myriad other unpleasant symptoms that pregnancy brings, one afternoon I found myself experiencing fairly intense chest pains. I waited until my husband got home from work, then we agreed that I should go to a&e. Fortunately I had stopped breastfeeding my daughter the month before (some people manage breastfeeding and pregnancy at the same time, for my body it was too much and I thought she'd had a very good run). So off I toddled on my own in a taxi, imagining that I would only be in hospital a couple of hours.

                                                    In A&E, I was seen to quite quickly (I think the words 'pregnant' and 'chest pains' put you quite high up the triage system) and they gave me an ECG. The results came back suggesting that I might have had a minor heart attack. I was not expecting that at all. Suddenly, I was admitted overnight and facing a whole raft of unpleasant exploratory tests on my own. I don't remember them all, but I know there were more ECGs, I had a cannula put in (I have thin veins, it took them several painful attempts), I was on drips, they injected me with radioactive dye for one scan (I think MRI), I had x-rays of my lungs in case of blood clots. These were all scheduled throughout the night so I didn't sleep. I spent the time inbetween sorting out childcare arrangements for my daughter the next day. My husband could drop her at her morning nursery session before work but then I had to arrange a mosaic of relatives to collect her and look after her for the afternoon.

                                                    Embarrassingly, at the end of all the many investigations, the conclusion was that all I had was pregnancy heartburn. I had had heartburn in my previous pregnancy, but that presented in a recognisable way, with rising bile. I didn't know that heartburn could present just as chest pain. The original ECG which scared the medics was put down as a rogue result. I was discharged around 4:30pm the following day with omeprazole and standard antacids, and must have slept for a good 12 hours.