Stags and Hens – on the night-bus 6 – part 1


And in that moment, he knows , with the terrible clarity of the very drunk, that he is making the worst mistake of his life.

The night-bus signals a change of pace in this night, his stag night, he knows from previous experience that soon the marrieds, the new dads will starts to peel off, pleading early starts, big days tomorrow, potential domestic strife.

Soon, it will just be a hardcore, the single, the divorced, the guys whos’ other halves are out on the hen do and it will get messier.

Actually, up to now, it’s been pretty good, almost tasteful, Stewart, best man, best mate and organiser of the night has done a OK job, given what he’s had to work with, champagne bar, sushi, cocktails and now on to lap dancing and an S&M dungeon club.
The night-bus is a key part of the planning
“Keeping it real” says Stewart
“Keeping it street, reminding ourselves of being young, the stuff we used to do”
And he is persuasive, so, no cabs, no limos, no kawasaki couriers.
Just feet and the night-bus.

No-body, well not out loud, is comparing this to his last stag night, 3 days all expenses paid coke fuelled frenzy for him, Stewart and 10 of their closest mates, 12 go mad in Budapest.

No-body has mentioned the new austerity.
No-body has mentioned tightening belts
No-body has asked where the Porshe has gone.


This may be the happiest night of her life,she thinks, she could purr with satisfaction and in fact when she catches sight of her nails, bejazzled, bejeweled, perfect, a sigh of complete happiness does just slip from glossed lips.
She will be married to Marc Barber in 3 days time and then life will continue to be perfect, day after day after day.
And this hen do is all part of the new perfection, everything understated, planned, low key.

She can still remember hen do’s in Burnley, women so drunk they passed out on the street, brides to be half dressed, half cut, hand cuffed to lamp posts, last minute sex with strangers – just in case.

Tonight has been planned, facilitated by Imogen, the wedding planner, a careful display of money, yes, but taste and a little, just a little hint of ” if its’ good enough for katie & lilly” slightly too much Absolut.

So, they’ve done the food – Retro Nouvelle Cuisine – dishes so perfect that they brought tears to her eyes and she even managed to ignore her sister photographing her meal and she convinces herself that tonight, that she will also ignore the Facebook status that will accompany the picture.

And now, the London Eye, booked just for themselves, champagne and then not a limo – just too much, but a rapper stylee SUV and onto a club that Imogen says will be perfect and most importantly, normally never allows hen parties in and has a high celeb spot profile.


He leans his face against the window, it’s cold and he stares unseeing out of the window, whilst the boys, having jettisioned the light weights are getting properly ramped up to party.
They did a line of coke in the toilets at the sushi bar – more, as Stewart said for old times sake than for any real desire to get shit faced and now Marc has the bitter after taste in his throat and an over-powering desire to buy 20 Marlboro Reds and smoke them all.

He’s trying to remember what her face looks like, what color her eyes are, the shape of her nose, but every time he thinks he has it, has her face fixed in his head, it shifts, slips and like sand falls away.
It dawns on him that he about to marry a woman who he could not describe to a police artist when she vanished on a business errand, he brings himself up short, maybe this coke is better than he thought. he shakes his head, more to dislodge the thought and turns to Stewart and Dave, best mate and least disliked work colleague and tries to tune in to their conversation on the etiquette of tipping pole dancers and for a minute is dragged in, remembers legendary nights, when the bar bill would into 1,000s and if you used less thah 20s to tip the girls, people started offering a whip round to get you through the night.

Generally, he tries hard to forget the enourmous amounts of money that he and the other bottom feeders, the little guys of finance, the tiny traders, have wasted during the good years.
Now it’s all tense, tight, trying not to notice who’s not there any more , who is seen stumbling out to the lift, couple of cardboard boxes crushed to their chest, faces white as they calculate the mortagage repayments and the credit card debt.


She knows it’s just not the right time to fall in love with a city trader, she should have done it 3, 4 years ago, cos that’s when they were really making it and spending it. She’s seen the photos, the Porche, the holidays, the shoes……well, the shoes are still there, he’s got a lot of shoes, for a straight boy, but,she’s not stupid, knows he’s just lost his way a bit , needs some direction.
“That’s my job, the wife” she thinks, almost out loud and then she smiles and actually says the word out loud while the girls, the women with her are ordering puddings thay don’t plan to eat.
She says and smiles and smiles and smiles.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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