“On a scale of zero to five plums” Damian began, supping generously from a double vodka with mixer and reclining on a Travelodge bed, looking at peace with the world and the contents of his plastic glass. “How plum on it are you?” Sam, a few miles away in Leeds city centre, shouted back: “SEVEN PLUMS!!!”
Back in the Travelodge, we fall about laughing, knowing full well that the night’s entertainment ahead would indeed be a seven plums sort of evening. Maybe even a few apricots. I was in Leeds for the snooker, an English Ranking Series event. It’s about time I started taking the game seriously and after an unforgettable weekend, spending time on the baize before ending the night in a drunken haze, I have definitely made the right choice.
Just as we were dozing off on Friday night in a Bradford Travelodge that looked like a retirement home, we heard the unmistakeable sound of drunk girls. Our ears pricked up and we sidled over to the window for a closer inspection. There were three young women standing by reception, presumably awaiting a taxi to town, cackling mischievously and looking like they were up for good times.
“Say something Chris” Zack whispered, as we witnessed one of the girls stumble forward and nearly skittle her mate.
“Why don’t you?” I retorted, fearing the musky stench of rejection. This to-ing and fro-ing continued for a few minutes until Jamie, bored of our cowardliness, leaned out of the window and hollered “Y’alright girls, where are you off to tonight?”
It was a brave move and I wasn’t prepared, so I did the manly thing and hid under the sofa bed. Immediately there was a gale of laughter and the trotting of high heels. One girl, Lauren, had come dashing over like Usain Bolt. She was nice enough, although her black dress failed to disguise she was packing some weight. General pleasantries were exchanged and we discovered our rooms were diagonally opposite each other. As she spoke through the now wide open window, she kept sinking slightly because of the grass and her high heels, so it was like talking to the captain of a sinking ship.
“Why ain’t you coming out tonight?” she pleaded in her violently Essex accent. “You come all this way from Brighton and you wanna stay in together and bum each other off”.
“Make sure you knock on our door when you get in” Zack implored, half-jokingly, as we were all due to play at silly o’clock the next morning.
“OK we will” Lauren said, with a little too much certainty.
Sure thing, come 3am, I’m awoken by a barrage of knocks and slurred voices, camped outside our door. We left them to it for a while, thinking the receptionist would surely scoot along soon and pack them off to their rooms with a cup of Horlicks and a night cap. When no one came to save us, Jamie rolled out of bed and opened the door a fraction of an inch. Lauren, Rachel and Chloe then performed the greatest tactical invasion this side of Poland and barged their way into our room. Rachel passed out on the sofa, Chloe, the good looking blonde who was just humouring her mates, sat at the table, bemused. Lauren meanwhile, had planted herself on the bed between Zack and Jamie, legs spread akimbo, detailing her sexual preferences.
“I do like a good paaaaaanding” she giggled, subtly convulsing her body with her legs writhing in the air in case we thought she meant she enjoyed a few rounds of boxing.
“I will shag one of you lot tomorrow night” she continued, before adding, “But I don’t want you to think I’m a slut”. Not at all. Girl chats jovially outside hotel window for ten minutes, trollops off into town and returns four hours later promising one of three strangers the opportunity to paaaaand her rigid. Definitely not a slut. In an effort to get them moving, we promised we’d be on it – seven plums on it, in fact – the next day, so they finally left us in peace and we got a precious few hours more sleep.
The snooker didn’t go too well and I lost to a bloody tweeny. He looked about eight but he beat me in the decider. Zack, Sam, Damian and Jamie didn’t fare better either, so we went on a booze cruise and returned to our digs. We turned the lock of our room and I noticed a tatty envelope on the floor, which I bent over to pick up. Inside was an invitation written on scrap paper.
“Dear contestants” it began, and the scribbled message formalised the arrangements made the previous night – one of us would ride her like a bucking bronco. “Please look your best so I can make a final decision” she ended. Unfortunately, she didn’t practise what she preached. We caught sight of her in the hallway and she was wearing an unflattering layered pink dress which made her look like a tacky wedding cake. Instead of spending half an hour in front of the mirror pulling every hair into place, I was tempted to shave off my eyebrows and smear my jeans with excrement so I didn’t win the competition. Still, there was more to come.
An application form was shoved under our doors, asking for personal details such as “size of cock” and “favourite position” to which I answered “practically non-existent” and “left-back”. Jamie entered under the alias ‘Jermaine’ because “Jermaines always have big dicks”. With a little fire in our belly – Smirnoff – we knocked on their door and ‘hanged out’, an expression taken a little too literally by Lauren, who was coming on stronger than a mature lump of stilton.
Drinks were shared and the party was heating up. Lauren was panicking about her hair – she didn’t know whether to have it up or down. Either way she still looked like a giant raspberry with a haircut. “I just wouldn’t bother going out” I said, deadpan, and my sliver of a chance of winning the competition was snuffed out with a line of banter that would be considered innocuous by most standards. When Damian asked aloud whether he should ‘Confirm’ Lauren as a friend on Facebook or press ‘Not Now’, I asked if there was a “Not Now, Not Ever” button. She loved that too. We were practically BFFs.
Unbeknownst to me, Jamie was thoroughly rotted by the time we were getting the taxi to Leeds. He was doing that thing where you repeat things four times, getting louder each time. “And then, and then, and then, AND THEN!!!”
Jamie joined the cashpoint queue, hips swinging like a chorus line of ‘New York, New York’, looking one request away from performing his famous breakdancing moves. The bloke behind him, built like a brick shithouse, was just shaking his head and saying “dick”. Ten minutes later in Players, he’s causing an entire bar to disperse. He was even trying it on with a granny. I don’t mean that she was a bit older, so looked out of place. I mean granny. A generous soul would say she had just hit retirement age, but Jamie was there, throwing his arms around like an over-familiar octopus, leading to a mass exodus of any female within three hectares of land.
A messy night ensued. Me and Damian lost the others and ended up necking shots in the disco room and trying it on with a couple of face-painted army girls. They seemed to be smiling and having a laugh with us until they realised we were straight, then they gave each other meaningful looks and departed without a backwards glance.
The hours sped by and I got off with Sophie Ellis Bextor’s fat cousin and Lauren appeared to have made her decision with regards to the competition. I returned to the main group to find Jamie, still pissed enough to think Lauren didn’t look like a Bertie Bassett’s Allsorts, dancing and snogging her. Even when she proudly announced she shagged her way through eight boys in eight night on a girl’s holiday, Jamie was still ready and willing, even if she’s had more dicks inside her than the Big Brother house.
During the taxi ride back to the Travelodge we encountered the surliest taxi driver I’d ever met. He ordered us to get some more money, so he stopped at a petrol station and practically kicked Damian out of the passenger seat. For three hilarious minutes, Damian was scouring the perimeter of the BP garage for a link machine, until he returns to the cab, exhausted, and the driver says he forgot this garage didn’t have one. Safely home, without giving the driver so much as a penny for a tip, I conked out in my room, while the others began paaanding away like good’uns.
Sex, sin and snooker, we give in to your pleasures once more.