The non-hen night started off well enough.
I caught the Eurostar with my non-bridesmaid Meg. (Admittedly with only seconds to spare. If ever you make a date with Meg, it pays to factor in a degree of tardiness.) We sipped champagne and picked at our Eurostar lunch as we sped towards London under flinty skies. Every few minutes I put down my copy of Heat magazine, with a sigh, to field yet another text message from one of the attendees, wondering how on earth people ever made plans before the age of the mobile phone.
Our plan for the day included a lightning visit to TopShop, an afternoon rendez-vous at The Champion pub in Bayswater, a possible picnic in Kensington Gardens (which was looking increasingly unlikely as London approached and the clouds showed no sign of clearing) and, finally, an evening meet at The Walmer Castle, Notting Hill, for a Thai meal.
My friends had been warned that as this was a non-hen night, strippers, L-plates, chicken costumes, weird headgear, matching T-shirts or other horrorshow props were strictly prohibited. Several male friends had also been invited in an attempt to mitigate excesses of girliness. The only bacherlotte party tradition I did uphold was the Boy’s absence. He was safely on the other side of the English Channel, no doubt playing poker.
3pm saw me sitting on a balding Chaise Longue in The Champion, a pint of cider in my hand, surrounded by half a dozen of my closest friends. The picnic plan had been ditched, and we’d ordered a few snacks to mop up the alcohol instead. I was taking things slowly. All was well in my world.
Then my best friend from university, dismayed at the dismally slow progress I was making with my pint, returned from the bar to remedy the situation, carrying two shots (1 vodka, 1 Sambuca). At approximately the same time, Meg bought a bottle of wine for some random Dutch boys who had been quietly propping up the bar and asked them to do a little dance for me, in return. She then produced a handful of fluorescent mini feather boas, a hideous pink plastic necklace and a hair clip (with pink bow attached) and began to advance towards me.
I raised the first of the two shot glasses to my mouth. And the next five hours – from approximately 5pm until 10pm – are blank.
I’m told I ripped university friend’s top – and have seen photographic evidence to support this claim – but can summon up no memory of the occurrence whatsoever. I’m told I tipped over the back of the chaise longue, landing on the floor with my legs in the air. Again, this feels true, but I have only a vague recollection of the feeling of smooth, cold tiles against my back – there is no visual memory at all.
And yet the photographs and videos I’ve seen show me looking tipsy but functional: sitting, standing, walking, talking, laughing (and drinking). It’s as though the lights were on, but there was no one home. My body switched onto autopilot, ceased to record anything, and partied on without me.
I ‘came to’ in the Thai restaurant and the rest of the night, which ended around 3 am, I recollect with perfect clarity.
On the Eurostar home, Meg obligingly filled in my memory gaps, prompting several ‘Oh no, please say I didn’t’s and a multitude of groans. The only advantage of not remembering was that it was virtually impossible to feel ashamed of my behaviour. What happens in the black hole, stays in the black hole, and frankly it might as well all have happened to someone else.
‘Your mission at the wedding, should you choose to accept it,’ I said when she had finished, ‘is to ensure my glass is never filled.’