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Saturday 10th January

Last night when Mei and I finished our drinking session, we headed back to the room. I vaguely remember trying it on with her in the en-suite while her mum was sleeping. It didn’t work. And that’s just about all I remember from the night.

I’m currently on the bed staring up at a spinning ceiling with a head full of pain. This is ten times worse than the mini hangover I felt after the party last month at the Fogartys’. The animal noises are no longer soothing; they’re a piercing hammer boring into my brain. The light is like a blinding laser shooting through my eyes. It may have been a mistake to drink so much.

Mei and her mum aren’t on their bed and I can’t hear anyone in the en-suite. Even as I turn my head the creak of the bed and the rustle of the sheets sound like sandpaper on a cat’s arse. The clock says it’s almost nine. Shit.

I want breakfast. My stomach feels rough. I need a greasy fry up if the restaurant is still open. It’s worth a try. I’m sure Mei and her mum are already down there, Mei wolfing it down while her mum looks at it like it’s just been thrown up by a tramp. Or me last night.

I do my best to ease out of bed in what is the longest and slowest manoeuvre I’ve ever made. I dangle my left leg out and on to the floor first, soon to be followed by my right. I sit up gently and sort of brace myself on the edge of the bed. I’m still wearing my clothes from last night. At least it saves me getting changed. However, I can already smell the stink of alcohol all over me. What a state I must have been in.

I can taste my breath. It tastes like someone has taken a dump in my mouth. For all I know that could have happened. I’m sure Mei will tell me.

I stand to my feet and shuffle over to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I start to feel better afterwards but I’m far from a hundred percent. I’d say I’m running at twenty percent.

As I can’t feel any worse, and to save any embarrassment in the restaurant, I to change into a spare set of clothes. It takes longer than expected and I leave the room twenty five minutes after I woke up. Jesus it’s almost nine thirty.

In the hallway outside our room is a pile of sawdust against the wall. I start to feel sick. A small flash of last night comes back to me: I’m propping myself up against the wall and, well, the sawdust being there is my own fault. It’s the result of a stomach full of alcohol that shouldn’t have been there, and wasn’t for very long. I vaguely remember Mei not telling me off. She’s so supportive of me she probably just sat there and let me drown my sorrows while understanding why I needed a decent blow out. A lot has been happening in my life recently. I know it also affects her but I just wanted an evening without responsibility. And I am on holiday after all.

I walk down the stairs taking one step at a time, planting my feet firmly on the step before moving onto the next. Any faster and I’ll be heading down on my face.

I walk into the dining room and walk a walk of shame to join Mei and her mum.

Mei pulls the chair beside her. It scrapes and groans across the hard floor like Chewbacca from Star Wars is having an orgasm. I have to close my eyes to try and mask the pain, which doesn’t work. I fall onto the chair and sit there staring through the window.

The dining room is nice with white walls and white table cloths. Everything seems to be white. And bright. Too bright in fact.

Mei speaks first which sounds like a siren. ‘Feeling better?’ she asks with a smile. I think the smile is to save face.

I nod.

A waitress walks over and asks me what I want. I order a black coffee with two sugars and the greasiest and largest breakfast they have on the menu. ‘With extra bacon grease please.’

Mei’s mum has been watching me the entire time. She’s not as good at hiding her feelings as Mei is. She looks at me like I’m a disgrace.

In a dry kind of whisper I ask what happened last night.

Mei tells me that we had some drinks and I started getting loud. I kept saying I should text Amy and tell her to go fuck herself. I didn’t go through with it, thank God. But she did text me. Apparently that’s what started it off. She sent a text, not a selfie this time. Just a text that said ‘Thanks for grassing on me to the police’.

My jaw drops. What have I done? I shouldn’t have said anything to Smith. Shit. Shit. Shit. I’ll be lucky to have a house left by the time I get home. But Harold hasn’t phoned which tells me that everything is fine.

My breakfast and coffee arrive. I want to devour it in seconds. I shouldn’t, though, or I’ll be bringing it back up and there’ll be another sawdust patch, this time in the dining room with every patron watching. How nice.

The breakfast tastes all right. I’m sure it would taste better without a layer of fluff all over the inside of my mouth.

It does the job and by the time we get back to the room I’m running at almost sixty percent.

I seem to remember suggesting last night that we go to the botanical gardens and zoo today, so that’s what we do. Zoo first. I don’t think it will beat the safari park we went to in China but it’ll be nice. Nicer without a hangover.

I still feel bleary as we enter the zoo through a waist high barrier that opens as we approach. I don’t know if I’m up to this little jaunt through this museum of living animals.

The whole time I feel homesick. It’s a hard feeling to describe. I want to be here but I want to be at home as well. I don’t want that nutter ruining everything for me.

How am I going to get rid of her?

While Mei and her mum are watching monkeys swinging through some tyres, I call Harold.

The phone beside my ear is very loud and my head starts to pound.

‘Hi, Lee,’ Harold says. ‘How’s Scotland?’

‘Please don’t talk to loud I’m a little worse for wear this morning.’

‘Sorry,’ he whispers.

His good mood tells me that everything is at it should be.

‘Any problems?’ I ask.

I can sense him shaking his head. ‘Can’t think of a thing. That Amy lady’s car is still in the carpark but I’ve not heard anything. There was something on the news about Emma. They’re saying she was pushed, apparently there was a scuffle. The police were at Bret and Alan’s last night too.’

Must have been Smith. ‘All right, Harold. Can you let me know if you hear anything please?’

‘Of course.’

I end the call. I can relax now. I’ve been saying I can relax a lot recently and then I don’t. I don’t think I will until Amy is long gone.

We continue our trek around the zoo and to be honest I’m pretty bored. I think Mei and her mum are too. Once you’ve seen one lion you’ve seen them all.

After ten more minutes of waiting for animals to do something other than sat sit there lounging in the cold sun, we head for the exit. It’s not like we’ve wasted money on the ticket as they came as a package with the hotel. Perhaps it’s the hangover that makes me feel unimpressed.

I’m in no fit state to drive to the botanical gardens, so we call a taxi. Tomorrow we go home so I don’t think I’ll be drinking tonight.

It’s now almost eight in the evening. We’re sitting in the dining room at the hotel eating our evening meal. The gardens turned out to be very nice and I’m tired from all the walking. All three of us are.

On the table in front of me is a steak pie and veg. I love pies and usually make one at home, as you know. The pie tastes nice and the veg is cooked well. Mei is eating roast chicken. Her mum ordered the same as her. We should be out and about in this great city but I don’t feel like it. Although Harold said he will call me, I can’t get the text out of my head. I can imagine tomorrow I will be driving very fast.

I feel bad that I’m holding these two back from seeing the sights. Mei said she’s seen it before and her mum isn’t that bothered. Seems to me like this trip was a complete waste of time.

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