Familiar surroundings, and familiar faces.
In just a few days it is astonishing how distant the concrete bubble we know as London can feel. Outside the grey streets I forgot just how much green there was in the world- a profound effect of living in the city.
The skies have been bluer lately, aided by some glorious sunshine. The days are still short, but the nights blissfully long.
Ethan’s suggestion of going to Tap ‘N’ Tin on Monday night initially sounded simply like a suitable way to settle back into the atmosphere of the Medway Towns, an atmosphere I really believe cannot be replicated anywhere else in the country. With this premonition in mind, it was more than a bonus that it turned into one wonderful night made memorable by spending it with so many amazing people who I have not seen in a long time.
The demands of university, apprenticeships and work mean we are all dispersed throughout the early months in the year. Until the summer, being able to meet as a group is valuable time, a rarity even. This week, for a lot of us, has briefly halted working commitments, and allowed us to enjoy ourselves again before we go back into more serious affairs.
It’s nights like Monday that spur you on until the summer arrives. It’s the promise of more, and the thought of having all the time in the world once the academic battle is over.
In accordance with my vow not to drink until I have run the marathon in May, I was once again set for a sober night at Tap, resuming my duties giving lifts in the Warren Whip. After booking Ethan, Gianni and Rob’s seats, I soon acquired the long distance trek for Harry Lattimore. Having burnt a new playlist for the night, I was set for a fair bit of driving around, only to almost be rendered immobile prior to even leaving my house through a slight scare regarding the Whip’s headlights. With sidelights and full beam working fine, it was a mystery as to what could be preventing the normal headlights for illuminating the already pitch black roads.
It turned out that it stemmed from my quite glorious morning drive earlier in the day. The sun was shining, the roads bone-dry as I made a short journey for some petrol. During that drive, while on the tight and twisting country roads I almost smashed right into a bus. Or rather, a bus almost smashed right into me. In having to veer slightly, I hit a bump and knocked the electronics. After fidgeting with some wires for a solid ten minutes, I set about calming the group chats where I had been shouting hysterics, and set about resuming a disaster-free night.
From there, I met Ethan at the dear alma-mater, then collected Rob and Gianni, before stopping at Blaze’s for an hour. By 8:30pm there were about twelve of us huddled in Blaze’s bedroom, but all of us were in high spirits. I got a great surprise in Matt’s arrival, alongside seeing Nick and Conor. It was such a warm atmosphere, the type I have really missed.
Nick too would be out doing lifts, and the two of us shared a tiring but fun night of running around everyone’s houses racking up that cold hard cash. I hope he noted my suggestion of forming a cartel.
Having Harry next to me was as always, a true laugh. We enjoyed a tremendous time driving with some EAST ENDxYURI blasting off the rewritable while listening to one amazing story about his London trip; was definitely a trip in every sense of the word.
Once we arrived at Tap, I had already ventured halfway down City Way before I realised I was still wearing my coat. However, that was a mistake which worked for the best, as I spent a significant part of the night watching everyone around me freeze themselves sterile.
As per usual, the indoor rooms were drenched in sweat and humidity, and my usual dance floor performance went further downhill by having to hold my coat for the entire time.
As is the way with the world, on the bottom floor at one point I was approached and immediately informed that I bear a resemblance to a certain singer. I urged this girl not to follow up, but the usual rhetoric swiftly followed and the long streak of being resembled to Ed Sheeran stretches into its fifth year.
As the calendar flipped a page and the early hours of the morning woke, fatigue settled in, everyone’s alcohol wore off, and my pasta which I had consumed eight hours earlier had almost completely digested, I began the gradual progress of returning everyone safely to their homes. First came my colleague and Bluewater Bad Boys brother Rob, followed by a Warren Whip comeback for Matt, and subsequently a debut for Lily.
Before arriving at Rob’s house, we indirectly convoyed Nick’s group and joined them for a nice early morning McDonald’s. The empty store and slow music had all the makings of a comedown, and we all had a nice weary chat about the past, present, and the future.
Once in Wickes car park, I collected Ethan, Gianni and Harry for the night’s final run. We shared a good laugh with Jack, also of the BBB, before departing to the lands beyond the tunnel.
During that tunnel we were each hit by Gianni’s idea of stopping at Medway City Estate’s McDonald’s, an idea particularly supported by Harry to exercise his various cravings. So once again, I found myself sitting in the slow world of a 4am McDonald’s, each of us on the verge of falling asleep, talking in the warmth away from a biting late winter night. It sounds unorthodox, but it’s moments like these where we’re burning away the early morning hours, speaking nonsense with half-asleep minds that make for the most characterful memories.
Everyone arrived home safely, and eventually under the glare of the fuel light, so did I. I’m pretty sure each one of us dropped straight into our beds that night. It was a short, but satisfying sleep, knowing that nights in Medway will always have their charm as long as I’m with the right people. That was as relevant as ever on Monday, and will continue into the summer, once we jump the hurdles of work and exams. This was in essence a preview of what is to eventually come.
Since then I’ve been maintaining my marathon training programme, setting a new personal distance record of seven miles at the weekend. Even in winter, running through the countryside has an enchanting feel. Cleaner air dances through the lungs, and pushes you further through the trees. The world around me was still sleeping, but with the faint tweets of birds audible, and a sodding massive gang of midges blocking my path, I could tell that spring wasn’t too far off.
Amongst this week’s adventures, one aspect which cannot go unmentioned is the current progress of the fundraiser. At just three days old, together we have raised £159.50. I would like to thank everyone so much for their overwhelming support, it has really been incredible to see everyone contribution ahead of the Silverstone Half-Marathon for Rainbow Trust. At almost 80% of the way to the £200 goal, I believe we will get there with plenty of time to spare. Thank you very much, everyone.
If you would like to make a donation, you can find my fundraising page by clicking here.
With the week still young, and more plans on the horizon, all I have to be mindful of is ensuring this fresh pain in my knee doesn’t become an injury. Other than that, we walk further into the week on greener ground, and under bluer skies. The sun is shining on us right now, and while summer may still be distant, fragments of spring are beginning to appear.
We stand on the edge of the year’s toughest period, but at the same time, one step closer to its end.
Dare I say it’s going rather quick.