Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Strangers on a train

When was the last time you had a stranger sleep in your house? A one night stand? A party so kerrr-azy it was gatecrashed by people you didn't know?

I can't remember the last time for me - probably because the party was so epic. But the point is, it's been years.

Well, it had been years, until a few nights ago. Now it's just been three days.

For her own sake, I'll call my friend A Nonny Mouse. A pseudonym. Her real name is Rachel Peters. Don't want you guys judging Rachel Peters for having a strange man back for a romp.

A Nonny Mouse was staying with us for the night and coming by train. I drove to pick her up and she called me as she alighted her carriage. Hmmm, she sounded different. I'm no detective but there was a definite gin-like giggle in her voice. She was inebriated and I knew it.

'Er, I've met someone,' she tells me. I'm so rusty at all this strangers on a train business I presume she means she's bumped into a friend. No. A stranger. On a train. 'He's got nowhere to stay tonight… could he come back to yours?'

Well, I already know what Gareth's going to say to this. He's a photographer. He has, I don't know what, tripods and stuff, the last thing he'll want is a stranger coming back and eyeing it all up.

A Nonny Mouse, who I'm going to call Nonny from now on because it takes less time to type, arrives at the car park with this man of questionable character. He tells me his name is Ozzie, but it's not his real name, and no I don't need to know what his real name is. Within one whiff of his scent I can tell he's been drinking for several hours and probably doesn't wash much, but he's good looking enough and I can see why Nonny has been flirting with him since Swindon. That was probably about the time the booze kicked in and she stopped being able to smell the lavender / musk / sweat emanating from his every pore.

Not one to be a party pooper, despite knowing Gareth won't be happy, I say alright, he can come back, but he better not nick anything.

Ozzie assures me he won't. Nonny assures me he won't - she tells me she trusts him, which is quite the endorsement from the drunk girl who has known him for one sixth of a day.

Still, she had this cute look in her eyes like she really didn't want the fun to end and I wasn't going to be the one who sent Ozzie off to sleep rough while Nonny was left with nothing more exciting than coming back to the chapel for a cup of herbal tea and a cold sofabed.

Ozzie, Nonny and I arrive back at ours. Gareth seems to be taking it quite well - Ozzie is very charming and makes sure he makes an effort to show us he's not the 'Shit, since that bloke came over I can't find my piano' type, but more the 'Wow, since that bloke came over and did Reiki on me I'm really feeling more connected to my chakra.'

(Note - no, he didn't do Reiki on us. As if I'd let anyone hover their stupid hippy hands over me. But it looked like the kind of thing he'd do. He lived in a van, shat in a ditch and washed in a bucket for god's sake. Every day of his life.)

Ozzie and Nonny get flirty and continue to make their way through the rum they were enjoying on the train, so Gareth and I made our excuses and went to bed. With every single piece of Gareth's camera equipment. We stacked it up in the wardrobe, I had to spoon a tripod. He then wedged a laundry basket under the door handle and put his trusty baseball bat down his pyjama bottoms. Armed and dangerous - Gareth was ready to take Ozzie on, just as soon as he got through our barricaded bedroom door and went for a lens.

The next morning Ozzie left with nothing more than he came with and we all had a jolly good laugh about how worried Gareth was about his very expensive kit. It's easy to laugh when nothing gets stolen.

Later, I went to meet up with some girlfriends and regaled to them the story of my unusual night with nothing but a laundry basket between me and what could have been a killer rapist thief.

Soon, all the girls were offering up their own stories of the strangers they had had back to their houses - back in the day, of course, not recently. We are all ridiculously predictable these days.

I'll leave you with this. My friend Cesca's anecdote beats Ozzie's 'I didn't steal anything' story hands down. Her husband, Mike, he makes a regular appearance here, he's a good bloke. The kind you instantly want to hang about with. And so it was that Mike met some guys in a kebab shop or on the tube or something, I forget the details. Mike, being the generous, trusting man he is, invites these 'legends' back to his for a nightcap. Strangers come back to Mike's house and they all get thoroughly drunk, to the point where everyone passes out.

Hours later, Mike wakes up to a knock on the door. It was the guys he'd been partying with the night before, the strangers he'd invited back to his for a night of fun. The 'legends'.

'Er, we stole your wallet,' said the strangers, handing it back to Mike. 'But we felt really bad about it because we had such fun with you last night, so we brought it back.'

Isn't that just lovely? Criminals, brought to their knees by Mike's banter.

I like to think Ozzie would have stolen our house if we weren't so charming, but I'm not sure I came across as charming when I said: 'Right, we're going to bed. Don't steal anything, I'm a journalist, I'll find out where you live. Night night!'


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