In honour of my littlest sister’s 21st birthday today – a little sister who just happens to be a complete YouTube star with 11 million hits – I thought I’d tell you all the tale of her last big birthday, her 18th.
Now, you should know that I’m a decade older than my little sis. So when she invited me out to celebrate her 18th with her unfeasibly beautiful teenage pals, I was flattered. And jumped at the chance. And convinced another 28 year-old pal to come with me in case any adulting needed doing. My age-appropriate friend could only stay for a couple of drinks so soon enough it was just me – 28, and the rest of the gang – all 18.
But luckily my dance moves are SO bad they’re almost ironically good and I never stopped listening to Capital FM (despite being well outside their 16-24 key demographic) so I was also able to mouth along enthusiastically to the latest chart hits like a complete Top 40 gangster.
If you’re picturing this then that’s just not at ALL fetch
Well anyway…we danced, we sang, we drank fluorescent cocktails, we took selfies (actually rather ahead of our time given this was 2012) and it was a really fun night.
In this club snap you can see me (far left) literally clinging to my youth
When we arrived – at our little suburban stop of Tring – we were still at least a mile or two from home. And there ain’t no buses that time of night. And there ain’t no taxis in the taxi rank.
We hadn’t really thought this bit through.
The country road that links Tring (trrrrrring! I always hear a bell sound….every. single. time.) station to the town is over a mile long and has no street lights. We looked at each other, then down at our high heels. We convinced one girl to phone her mum for a lift. This proper adult eventually turned up but only had enough room in her car for four. That left three of us still stood at the station in the middle of nowhere: me, the birthday girl and her one remaining friend.
We worked up the courage to phone our mum. She wasn’t the happiest to be woken in the wee small hours but also reminded us – through clenched teeth – that she HAD told us before we left that our dad was away with the car.
“Oh yeah” we said “Sorry mum”.
No local cab companies were even answering their phones.
So we Three Muskeclubbers had no choice but to set off down the path leading homeward. We used our phones as torches until our batteries ran out. We tottered in pitch black on our heels. Every 10 metres took about 10 minutes.
Then – looming to our left – emerged The Pendley Manor Hotel, where I had worked many, many years before as a receptionist. In the dark it glowed at us like an oasis in the desert.
“HEY!” I said excitedly, “Let’s go in and see if a night porter will give us a lift! I’ll tell them I used to work there!”
We stumbled to the reception and knocked on the – locked – door. After a few minutes a porter appeared.
“I used to work here!” I shouted in his poor, confused face.
We explained our situation: it was still a long walk back to our house, we were tired, we were tipsy, we were in HEELS.
Ta-dah! A place that used to employ me!
In fairness, this lovely night porter was very quick to believe that I had in fact worked there, especially as I couldn’t remember the name of one single person I’d worked alongside.
I was also careful to NOT fill him in on some of the ‘low points’ of my receptionist career…
Low point 1: the time I gave a guest – who’d just checked in – a key to their room, only for them to come back downstairs and say they’d just walked in on someone naked in the shower. Oops, wrong key.
Low point 2: the time I spent 5 minutes painstakingly going through the booking process on the phone with someone with a very strong Indian accent, by the name of Mahatma Gandhi. Obviously I knew the real Ghandi died in 1948 (just Wiki-d that now) but I thought there might easily be another Mahatma Gandhi who very much wanted to stay at one of Hertfordshire’s finest spa hotels. But no, it was just one of my sisters winding me up.
The night porter knew none of this, and took pity on us. However, he explained that he didn’t have the minivan that night. It was down at their sister hotel.
“The best I can offer you is a lift in the gardening truck…” he tailed off.
I don’t think he thought we’d jump at the chance.
But we did, we literally jumped.
“Yes! We don’t care what it is! We just can’t walk that whole way!”
So, cut to: the three of us careering around in the back of a truck with no seats, covered in bits of tree. We thought it was hilarious.
We arrived back home in one piece, but with twigs in our hair and laughing our heads off. The night porter probably thought we were on drugs.
I thoroughly recommend you request a ‘gardening truck’ next time you book an Uber home – great way to finish off a night out.