We're on a tube, heading North, surrounded by a group of pissed women singing "I've got a Brand New Combine Harvester." It's a strange choice of a song, but they seem happy enough in their special tuneless way!
I am still wearing a pink shiny cravat around my neck and Llio is wearing the top hat I was handed at the start of this long and very special day.
Today was our stag do, organised so brilliantly by our best men, Philip and Philippa. We kicked things off on Berwick Street where I bought a metre of lovely fabric for the waistcoat Sally is making for me. We went for a dark brown brocade with a slight purple and black sheen.
Philippa met up with us and we went on to Charing Cross Road, where I got myself a jacket. A traditional morning suit jacket and a great weight off my mind.
We knew nothing about the day. We didn't know who was coming or what had been planned...
It started in a vegetarian restaurant; a curious buffet where the cost of the food was based on the weight of the food you'd selected. Many of our friends met us there. Meriel. Gaby. It was almost bewildering because people from so many different aspects of our life were colliding. Some knew each other, others, we subsequently discovered, had got to know each other in the process of organising the day. More still were making friends for the first time.
After lunch, we were sent on a scavenger-hunt-cum-quiz based entirely on Monopoly, which had been brilliantly organised by Derek. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon! We've been so stressed of late, and this allowed us to forget everything, rush around London like loons, and enjoy being with friends in the most amazing sunshine. Words cannot describe my elation!
We were pitted groom against groom. My team consisted of Edward and Sascha, Fiona, Philippa and Moira. The quiz was mostly observational and therefore required trekking for miles around Central London. We also had to film ourselves doing strange things; helping a market stall holder to sell his produce, giving false directions to a Chinese tourist, kissing policemen... Brilliant.
Sadly, we lost. We could have split up into smaller groups and gone and focussed on individual aspects, but I was having too much fun with my team! There were innumerable highlights and surreal moments. At one stage we got stuck in the middle of a demonstration against caging lions. I doubt I'll ever forget running like Anneka Rice down Regent Street with Fiona like our lives depended on finding the next clue!
Tea was at Brown's in Covent Garden, where a whole slew of extra people joined us. Ellie was there. Julie Clare drifted through. Sam. Llio. Janey and Michael. Beautiful Karrie. Lisa and Mark. Abbie and Ian. Obviously Philip and Daryl. Our friends paid for all our food. We felt loved. Absolutely loved.
From Browns we went back into Soho, where the party continued upstairs at Ku Bar. I've not been out on a Saturday night in Soho for probably ten years, and it was rather pleasant to sit in a window seat staring down at the neon lights, and the other stag and hen parties in the street outside. It was also heartwarming to have a number of strangers come up to us and wish us well, having seen us in the newspapers.
At about 11, the party dregs; Philippa, Raily and Iain, Abbie, Lli, Nathan and I went for hot chocolate, chips, soup and Halloumi in an Italian restaurant back on Berwick Street. It was an absolutely delightful end to the day and I feel utterly rejuvenated, reminded, more than anything else that Nathan and I, in the midst of the mayhem, are getting married, surrounded by those we love and who love us.
We are the luckiest men alive. Heartfelt thanks to Philip and Philippa for organising everything. And top marks to Derek for his quiz!