"This is the book of life I should have read before leaving university in London.
It's got it all.
Sex, sex tourism, drugs, alcohol, alcoholism, prostitution & suicide.
In my search for sex and sobriety I travel from London to Amsterdam; to San Francisco, California; to Bangkok & Pattaya in Thailand and to Manila, Angeles City & Subic Bay in the Philippines.
Don't end up a loser like me.
Read this book."
- Paul Pisces
Chapter 7: Votes for Death
All third year students at Westfield are entitled to single-room college accommodation, so I have none of the problems of last year. Kim and I choose separate rooms in the same building but Mark, the other Paul and Marcus, who have become known as the 3 musketeers, continue to share their dilapidated shack. I think they like their independence.
Mark, Paul and Marcus are all fairly heavy drinkers come the evening but I have already begun to notice that I tend to drink faster and harder than any of them or our other friends for that matter. Itís the stress I tell myself. Once this year is out of the way and Iíve got my degree, Iíll find a good job, earn a good living and all will be well.
Tonight we've been out to a party (what's new you're asking) and I'm driving the 3 musketeers back to their house. We are in the last 2 or 3 miles of the journey when suddenly I shout "Votes for death! Who votes for death!" (This has become a tradition on the way back from parties.)
"Death, death, death!" scream my passengers, egging me on as I weave the car about, trying to drive as close as possible to parked cars without hitting them. The road is narrow but it is late and there is very little traffic about.
Please understand that I do not condone this behaviour - it's just what happened.
Life tip: Please do NOT try this at home.
As we approach an island in the road marking the next right-hand turn I need to make, I decide it would be a thrill to drive on the wrong side of the island. I am successful in negotiating this maneuver much to the amusement of my passengers but then suddenly Mark cries out.
"There's a copper in the road...heís waving a torch at us".
The policeman is obviously trying to flag us down but by the time I spot him, Iíve passed him and I just keep going.
"You nearly ran him over!" Mark shouts.
"No I didn't," I retort and, thinking fast, I switch off the car's lights so the copper canít read my number plate.
Back at their home, I drink cups of coffee and sweat a lot.
"Jesus! You were lucky there," Paul says.
"Lucky! You nearly killed him," Mark observes.
After an hour or so I have to make a move since I still have to get back to my room at college.
"Which way are you going back?" asks Marcus, ever the pragmatist.
"Well, the same way we came," I reply. "Thatís quickest."
"But the copper could still be there," Marcus persists.
"Na, heíll be long gone by now," I counter. But the others join in and eventually get me to agree to take the long way home.
"Bye," I say waving and pulling out of their driveway. I have already made up my mind to go back the same way I came, mainly because I donít want to get lost in the maze of London streets that make up this area.
Uneventfully, I pass the site of my run in with the law but have to stop at a set of traffic lights a few hundred yards further on. I see in my rear view mirror a large black Rover pull up behind me but I continue to concentrate on the traffic lights, waiting for them to change.
A loud knocking on the driver side window pulls me out of my trance. Itís a copper! Oh no! Now I remember - a lot of plain clothes police cars are black Roverís. Itís a bust! I slide over the passenger seat and climb out of the passenger door, as usual.
"Did you nearly run me over about an hour ago?" asks the policeman sarcastically.
"Er, I donít know" I mumble.
"Well, have you been drinking, Sir?" he leers.
"I had a few beers earlier," I confirm.
The copper talks into his walkie-talkie and a Black Maria arrives with more policemen.
"Weíll have to take you down the nick for a breath test," says the copper.
I clamber into the back of the Black Maria and find it is full of drunken Scottish football fans. I sit quietly, resigned to my fate as the Black Maria is driven to the local nick.
At the nick I am interviewed by a Sergeant. He is overworked and the police are plainly very busy with all the drunken Scottish fans. I am looking as remorseful as I possibly can.
"Blow into this, please Sir," says the Sergeant, handing me a tube full of crystals, attached to a breathalyser bag. I blow up the bag and begin praying while the two coppers eye the tube closely as the crystals begin to turn green. There is a line on the tube and if the crystals beyond this line turn green Iím done for. The Sergeant eventually hands the tube to me for inspection.
"Itís very close," he says. He is deciding whether or not to give me the benefit of the doubt.
"He nearly ran me over," the first officer interjects hoping to sway the Sergeant. I observe the tube and it is clear the crystals are green just beyond the line. But it is very close. I summon up all my skills and look the most remorseful Iíve ever looked in my young life.
"I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt," says the Sergeant sternly. Loud noises can be heard in the corridor outside. The Scottish football fans are probably rioting.
"Please follow this officer and collect your car from the car park." The Sergeant hurries off to quell the riot and I am left alone with a policeman Iíve nearly killed.
"Follow me," he says. His anger has subsided somewhat and he has accepted his Sergeantís decision.
"Iím sorry about earlier" I offer as an apology.
"Yes, well, just count yourself lucky."
"Yes I do. Thankyou."
The officer hands me the keys to my car. I open the passenger door, slide over into the driverís seat and drive off carefully with my best effort at a friendly wave. Yes I do count myself lucky. Very lucky indeed. Will my luck hold? Not likely is it?
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