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

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

    Many of us will have had to spend various nights sleeping in places which weren't our homes, or others' homes, or hotels etc. I've slept in a few railway stations (Köln, Liverpool Street) as well as bus stations (Bristol, for example). Airports as well (Heathrow, Gatwick). Nothing unusual in these, I suppose, There are some other nights I've spent which may or may not be odd, but as Ray de Galles invited me on a different thread to have first slog at this here goes. Excuse me for copying and pasting from stuff I've written before.

    1978: outside a house in Dover, after a ferry trip from Calais which arrived at 2 o’clock in the morning. I met a lad from Leeds and a girl from California. We pitched his fly sheet in the front garden of a deserted house, after a ferry trip from Calais, before catching the train to London in the morning.

    [This one is cheating a bit since it did involve a bed but for me at least it's memorable.] 1978: a house somewhere in Anglesey following a party which had something to do with staff and students at Bangor University. When I woke up, hungover, in the morning, I discovered that the only exit from my room was through another bedroom in which the two occupants (probably the tenants or owners of the house) were busy making love. It took a long time, even though I was desperate for a piss, to pluck up the courage to open my door and make a run for it through their room.

    Early 1983: a ditch somewhere in Essex. I'd gone to a party in a village by the art teacher in the school where I was teaching, but I couldn't find the house and the telephone number I had didn't work. With night falling, no public transport, no taxis around, this was the only option. Though it was cold in the ditch, at least it was dry. The morning after, I hitched back to Witham – from ditch to dull as ditchwater in one car ride.

    1991: railway sidings in Gijón. This was after our English Language School Christmas do. I got a bit too drunk before the meal, more so during it, wondered off sometime between the main course and the dessert, and woke up the following morning with a couple of broken teeth and a bloody nose not knowing what the hell had happened.

    1993: sleeping rough in Oviedo. I went by train with my friend Dani to the south of Asturias, in Spain. The intention had been to camp outside around the small town of Campomanes, but I forgot to bring the map which a friend had provided us with, we got lost, wandered around the countryside a bit (which was lovely: cherry trees, chestnuts, beautiful fresh water). We ended up in Campomanes itself, where we visited four of the five bars we saw; then went to the town of Mieres where we played pool in a bar called El Mineru (full of heroin addicts) where he pretended to be Dutch (which actually put a lot of pressure on yours truly to keep up the joke), ended up in Oviedo where we discovered we'd missed the last train home to Gijón, and so finally we crashed out on a traffic island on the Oviedo-Gijón road, having failed miserably to hitch a lift.

    There are more but that's enough for now, How about you?



  • Balderdasha
    replied
    I always used to say I was putting off writing a book until I'd had enough life experience to say something meaningful. Looks like I've reached that point and I may have just written a book.

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  • ad hoc
    replied
    I'm writing one at the moment which I've been given a count of 30,000 - 35,000. It's supposed to be around 100-120 pages, so 46,000 sounds like a fair length book

    Leave a comment:


  • Balderdasha
    replied
    I've just saved all of these into a word document. It's 46,646 words. How long is a book?

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  • Sporting
    replied
    Literate, thought-provoking, fascinating and evocative vignettes.

    Thanks.

    Leave a comment:


  • Antepli Ejderha
    replied
    A treat for us. Make sure you've saved them all somewhere as they are great.

    Leave a comment:


  • Balderdasha
    replied
    Originally posted by Balderdasha View Post
    Good idea for a thread. This could take me some time to answer. What I do know is that there is no way in hell that I could pass the type of security clearance test described by ursus arctos.
    And I think I'm mostly done. I knew it would take some time. I didn't realise it would take 2.5 months. It's been fun. Thanks for humouring me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Balderdasha
    replied
    2019: summer. We stayed in a Haven caravan in Kent, on the Thames estuary for three nights. In the morning, the tide was really far out and the kids went hunting for crabs in rock pools (found one large dead one, and a tiny white scuttling one). In the afternoon, the tide was right up near the barriers and the kids could splash in the waves in their wellie boots and try stone skimming.

    We travel by train so always pack lightly, one large suitcase for a family of four. The kids get spare clothes, me and my husband make do with one or maximum two outfits. My husband only had the pair of jeans he was wearing and got them covered in mud and seawater on the first day. We washed them in the caravan shower with shampoo, then dried them in the oven. I didn't position them right and burnt a small hole in one leg.

    When offered a comfortable bed, my son will always find somewhere else to sleep. On this holiday, he repeatedly stuffed all the duvets and pillows underneath the bed and went to sleep in the nest he'd made. We kept having to extract him while he was asleep so he didn't suffocate.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    I don't know what the redacted post was, but it seems like I answered it in the narcissism thread. I don't mind answering questions on this. To outsiders it does seem very weird and people tend to think that surely my sister must have a point? She doesn't.

    Leave a comment:


  • Antepli Ejderha
    replied
    Cutting out family members from your life is an incredibly painful decision but if they keep over stepping the mark and ignoring your boundaries your left with no choice. Both my wife and myself are barely on speaking terms with our parents. A very long story. It's for the best. There's no way I want to allow my daughter to be exposed to the kind of parenting I had and my wife feels the same.

    I'm sorry to hear about your situation Balders but it sounds like it's for the best.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sporting
    replied
    You are right and I apologize.

    Leave a comment:


  • ursus arctos
    replied
    I know you didn't mean harm, but I don't think that it is really fair to ask Balders to try to explain that given the current situation.

    There is a good deal of context in her posts on the Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy thread (where she previewed this story) that may be of help.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sporting
    replied
    Post redacted
    Last edited by Sporting; 14-09-2019, 02:36.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    Summer 2018. I was supposed to have my gallbladder operation at the beginning of the summer holiday, but the day before, it was postponed for four weeks. Annoying because we couldn't book a holiday and I just wanted it over and done with.

    My sister had been refusing to visit me if my husband was around. I had humoured her a couple of times, meeting her and her daughters at a wildlife park and in a local pub with a soft play area, but I was getting fed up of having to look after my children on my own at the weekend without my husband for no good reason. So, I hadn't seen her for coming up for six months.

    The day before my new operation date, my mum came round bringing birthday presents for my daughter from herself, my sister and my nieces. I had previously asked my mum not to act as a go-between for my sister, and I was annoyed enough that I asked her to put any presents that were not directly from her back in the car. The air was tense, but she agreed, and we then happily opened her presents with my daughter.

    Later, we went to LIDL so I could stock up on easy food to see me through the few days after the operation. My son fell asleep in the car, so my mum stayed with him while I went round LIDL with my daughter in the trolley. My mum, who cannot resist stirring things, messaged my sister.

    My sister rang me and launched into a tirade about how ungrateful I was and about my abusive husband. I told her calmly that he was not abusive and I'd appreciate her not screaming at me. She yelled even more. I told her that I didn't want to have an argument in the middle of LIDL in front of my daughter and if she didn't stop yelling, I'd hang up. I had to hang up.

    I was shaking with rage, but trying to hold it together for my daughter. My mum and son then appeared in LIDL and I bumped into a lady who had helped me back in 2016, soon after I'd been released from the mother and baby unit. I exchanged pleasantries and calmed down.

    Later that afternoon, I dropped the kids with my husband and had a heart to heart with my mum in the car, explaining why it was unreasonable of her to act as a go-between, how it made everything worse, how hard it was talking to my sister when she either accused me of being mad or brainwashed, about my concerns about the upcoming operation because general anaesthetic can sometimes trigger psychosis and I didn't want to go through that again. I thought we had cleared the air.

    The next day I went in for the gall bladder operation. It all went smoothly and I woke up clear-headed, no psychosis. I asked to see the gallstones (you're no longer allowed to keep them for health and safety reasons). There were an alarming number of brown greasy little gallstones. I took a photo. I was home the same night.

    The next morning, while I was still in the 24 hour post-operative period where you're not allowed to drive or to sign legal documents because your judgement is impaired, we got a call from social services. First, they wanted to speak to my husband. An allegation had been made that I was having a manic episode and was unsafe to look after my children. Then, they wanted to speak to me. The anonymous caller had also repeated an imaginary allegation that I had made against my husband during my psychosis 2.5 years ago. So, essentially, the anonymous caller had told social services that neither adult in the house was suitable for looking after the kids.

    We stayed calm, spoke openly to social services for about an hour, explained the situation, both independently stated that the caller was likely to be my sister and why, gave referees who could confirm our parenting skills, and faced an unpleasant three hours until they confirmed they had closed down the case.

    My mum confirmed that it was my sister who made the call, immediately after I hung up on her in LIDL, and I have not spoken to her or seen her since. I have banned my mum from mentioning her to me or vice versa. I have no idea if she sticks to it.
    Last edited by Balderdasha; 14-09-2019, 07:55.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    Edit: wrong thread
    Last edited by Balderdasha; 12-09-2019, 12:07.

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  • Erskine Bridges
    replied
    Fantastic stories Balderdasha! I haven't finished them yet, I really need to get on with some work.

    Can't really compete but I do recall sleeping in an Austin Allegro on Southport seafront with two mates, many, many years ago. We'd got our logistics all wrong and arrived too late to find anywhere to sleep. The only food was from a rancid take-away which served the most disgusting burger of undisclosed origin I've ever eaten. We knew it was a mistake but we were hungry teenage boys. We all spent a very uncomfortable, sweaty, nauseous night and one of my pals was forced out in the early hours to deposit a massive dump on the esplanade.

    We awoke to cries of disgust from passing tourists and to this day can remember one small boy asking his dad what kind of animal had left such a large deposit. Sorry pal.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    2018. My daughter's school puts inset days around a random June weekend, so there's a small chance of having an affordable holiday in term time. We were feeling slightly more adventurous and found out that some youth hostels now have different types of tents in their grounds. We opted for a safari tent, very luxurious compared to standard camping, with a double bed for us and bunk beds for the kids, and a lovely wood burner and mini kitchen. We stayed for three nights, cooking over camp fires and going for walks through the woods to the local National Trust property which had a café and an adventure playground. My daughter loved the walks through the woods, my son spent most of the time complaining that he wanted a taxi to take him home. My husband got a tick in an unmentionable place and was traumatised by having to remove it with tweezers. Some friends lived nearby and visited us for a barbecue one evening. A generally successful holiday.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    1998, I think. We went on a caravan holiday near Cheddar Gorge, me, my mum and dad, my grandpa and one of my friends. One day we walked down a long hill in the Gorge. At the bottom, my grandpa came to the realisation that at 85, perhaps he was too old for these expeditions. A couple of years earlier, his next-door neighbour had phoned us because he'd fallen out of his apple tree wielding a hand hacksaw and had gashed his knee and was refusing to go to hospital. My grandpa generally believed that old age was something that happened to other people. At the bottom of the gorge, I saw him come to terms with his physical limitations, and we walked out, slowly, slowly, over the course of several hours.

    Later in the holiday, my dad tried to race my friend, who took part in all the cross-country running competitions that I avoided. My dad held a county record for running that hadn't been beaten since his teens so it was a matter of pride. Maybe he would have outraced her, if he wasn't wearing open-toed sandals that flapped and slapped against the pavement as he ran.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    1996. My oldest friend's 13th birthday (I've known her since she was born). Her mum was a brownie Brown Owl, so she got a discount for renting a bunkhouse near Great Yarmouth and my friend had a three day party. We stayed in bunk beds, played tennis outside (I twisted my ankle), played games jumping over the freezing waves, ate fresh hot doughnuts and played in the arcade. While I was playing on one of the 2p machines I got separated from the group. A gang of teenage boys crowded round me asking if they could put 2p in my slot. The air was very menacing, I was wearing short shorts and a crop top and I suddenly felt very vulnerable. I just said 'no you can't' quite aggressively and escaped as soon as possible. One of my earliest memories of public harassment. Sadly not my last.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    1994 - 2002. I was an odd child. I squirreled pocket money and birthday money away, saved it, and bought strangely grown-up items: a wooden rocking chair, an electric keyboard, a television. When I was eleven I decided that my bedroom was too small and I developed a plan to buy a garden shed as an extra bedroom. Once I had saved £100 towards it, my dad was impressed and said he'd match it. We looked around at all the ready-built sheds in the garden centre and my dad declared they were too expensive and he'd build one himself.

    Prior to this, my dad's greatest foray into DIY was a wonky bookcase so we were all a little sceptical. He booked two weeks off work in August, had planks of wood delivered to our driveway, drew up plans and got up at 5am every morning to hammer and saw. I don't know what suddenly possessed him, but he stuck to his word and built me an 8 foot by 16 foot shed. He insulated it properly, put in windows, an electrician friend came round and wired it to the mains, then we threw a family barbecue and four of my dad's friends helped him pick up the roof he'd built and ran down the garden to plonk it on the frame. That's probably one of my happiest childhood memories.

    We had an old set of bunk beds and an old futon that we put in the shed. I went round second hand furniture shops and furnished it with carpets, curtains, chests of drawers, a desk. I wallpapered the walls and painted pictures to hang. It was my own haven. From then on, whenever friends stayed, we slept in the shed. We had a baby monitor so we could call my parents if needed, and a key to the back door to use the downstairs loo, but it felt safe and secret. I threw Hallowe'en and murder mystery parties there.

    Many years later, when I had my first boyfriend, my mum was a bit prudish. Whilst she knew I slept in his bedroom at his house, we always slept in separate bedrooms at my house. I thought this was a bit silly so one day I informed her that next time my boyfriend stayed, we would both be sleeping in the shed. That was my territory so she didn't object.

    The shed still stands, but after I left home, my mum turned it into a study / storage room for all her teaching resources so it is absolutely full to the brim with plastic boxes.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    1995 to the present day. A note on whenever I go and stay at my mum's house. When I was 13 I had a phase of wanting to be an interior designer. As previously mentioned, my grandpa let me decorate one of his bedrooms with sunflowers and trees. My mum let me paint her downstairs toilet with ducks and a strange scrunched up carrier bag painting method that I'd seen on one of those house improvement programmes. And then she let me redecorate my bedroom.

    I did it over one summer holiday. My grand plan was to paint the walls as a 'slice of life' street scene in sepia photograph colours. I got as far as sketching the scene out on paper with lots of stereotypical characters, then I bought all the sepia photo colours, cream, orange, brown, and painted all my bedroom walls cream as a base. It then took me a whole day to draw one full-size person on the wall in pencil. I quickly calculated that at this rate, it would take me more than the available days I had to draw the characters, let alone paint them.

    I had roped in two of my friends to help me paint and we came up with a 'Plan B'. Using the paint colours I had bought, we mixed up as many different shades as we could, used square paint rollers, and decorated the wall with swirling, chunky, overlapping streaks. It's a fairly trippy result, I'll try to find a photo as it's hard to describe. Other people call it the 'toilet roll room'. To counteract the walls, I decorated everything else in the room in plain cream and neutral pine. This room has remained unchanged since 1995 and I still sleep in it every time I visit (my husband has long since put his foot down and refuses to stay at my mum's house in the yellow room with the creepy dolls).

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    2005-2007. More snippets from night-time in Chongqing. Chinese businessmen liked to buy us drinks. Drink of choice was a bottle of whiskey mixed with peach iced tea (don't knock it til you've tried it). One night, one of them gave us a ride to another night club in his sports car. Bombing down the motorway at more than seventy miles an hour, he suddenly handed the wheel over to one of my fellow female teachers and laughingly jumped into the back of the car. She was screaming, we were screaming, it was a horrible way to sober up. Another of the various incidents when I was very lucky not to die.

    We knew three young TEFL teachers, an Australian guy, a Canadian guy and a Canadian girl, who shared a flat. The girl, who was stunningly pretty, used to get drunk very quickly and pass out. The guys would then carry her around from bar to bar on their shoulders, using her good looks to get into clubs, and making sure she got home safely. Once inside a bar or a club or McDonald's at 2am, they would rest her gently on a seat / table and then play games trying to build towers of glasses and packaging on her back. Back home in Canada, she told us she worked for a car wash and was in masses of debt, I never quite worked out how or why she ended up in Chongqing.

    The shopping malls had long metal slides next to all the escalators and weren't locked at night. We'd spend hours sliding down them and giggling.

    We became friends with two female bar owners from Foreigner's street. They both had large, gruff Chinese boyfriends who kept baseball bats behind the counters to ward off the various mafia who came round asking for protection money.

    Chongqing held a monthly drag queen night. Quite astonishing given that homosexuality was only legalised in 1997 and was still classed as a mental illness until 2001.

    ​​​Christmas Day isn't really a thing in China, but a tradition had developed in Chongqing where after school all the students would head into the city centre, buy inflatable baseball bats and have a massive friendly ruck.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    2003. My 21st birthday. I went on holiday to Rome with a female university friend to celebrate. The holiday started badly with the discovery that our bargain hotel, was actually comprised of twin beds made of thin slices of foam in portakabins near a mosquito infested swamp miles out of the city centre. Undaunted, we threw ourselves into exploring Rome.

    Day one, my friend climbed into the Fontana di Trevi so I could take a photo of her. Cue sirens, and us being bundled into a police van. We spent two hours in the police station answering questions like 'Would you do this in your own country?' 'Sure, we climbed into the fountains in Trafalgar Square last summer'. I know it sounds stupid, but we genuinely didn't see any of the signs warning you not to climb into the fountain and had no idea it would be so offensive. Eventually, the police took our passport numbers, fined us 200Euros in theory, and sent us on our way. We asked the police officer what would happen if we didn't pay the fine and we tried to come back to Italy. He replied 'It is my duty to tell you that you must pay the fine, but if you don't, meh, nothing happens'. We never paid the fine.

    Day two, we met up with a friend of mine who was working as a 'manny' (male nanny) and went out drinking with him. We missed the last train back to our portakabin and ended up staying at his flat. He offered a threesome. I declined and went to sleep as fast as possible in a sleeping bag on the floor to the sounds of my two friends making out on the bed.

    Day three, in the morning, we all ate pancakes with the family my friend was nannying for, then went to the coast and went skinny dipping.

    Day four, our last day, we hired a moped off a guy at the side of the road. He made us ride it once, individually, around a quiet square to show we were competent, then sent us off into the heavy Rome traffic despite neither of us ever having driven a moped before. My friend drove it, I clung on for dear life at the back as we zoomed through multi-lane traffic and underground tunnels at terrifying speed. Amazingly, we didn't die. My friend suggested I have a go at driving as we got close to our starting point. I thought this was a bad idea, but she persuaded me. As we came towards the square, I realised I didn't know which was the accelerator and which was the brake. I also didn't have the arm strength necessary to turn the bike. As a consquence, I accidentally hit the accelerator and drove us full speed into the barriers of the square, catapulting the bike, myself and my friend over the barrier and into the square. When I came to, I tried to pick up the bike, which was still running, and drove it further into a lamppost. We then managed to switch it off, and wheeled it back, shame-faced to the guy at the edge of the square who had held our passports as collateral. We tried to just nonchalantly slide the moped back in place, but the wing mirror was hanging off by a thread and my friend was limping. It was fairly obvious we had crashed the bike. The operation must have been illegal as the guy just gave us a dirty look and charged us 100Euros. We considered that 50Euros each for hiring a moped, riding it round Rome for an hour, crashing it, and still getting our passports back, was a bargain, so we paid up and scarpered.

    My friend had hurt her leg quite badly, so we walked slowly and ended up missing our intended bus to the airport. I suggested catching a taxi, my friend thought that was too expensive so we waited for the next bus and ended up missing our Easyjet flight by five minutes. We were at the gate, we could see the plane, but they wouldn't let us on. Paying to get on the next flight was far more expensive than the taxi was. My friend has never forgiven me for not offering to pay for both of our new flights. She thought it was my fault for crashing the bike. I thought she was at least half responsible for persuading me to drive the bike, and for refusing to get a taxi. We have reached a semi-truce of agreeing to disagree on this one. I have never driven a moped or motorbike since.

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  • NickSTFU
    replied
    I read them too.

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  • Balderdasha
    replied
    Glad to hear it.

    1994, age 12, I was selected to attend a residential creative writing course. We stayed in bunk beds, four to a room, and learned how to write kennings, limericks and other fun poems. One of my bunk mates talked in her sleep. She always slept earlier than the rest of us and then provided hours of amusement as she wandered the room, waving her hands about and shouting 'there's lightning in my finger and it hurts!' In the morning, she refused to believe us.

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