At 22 I was living in London. I’d moved there age 18, which people tell me was brave. Actually, I think it was brave. But at the time it didn’t seem brave, it seemed necessary.
When I moved, I worked as a live-in “Mother’s Help” but by the time I was 22, I was living in a bedsit behind of row of shows, opposite Ealing Common tube. It had been advertised as a mews house, but it was more of a converted garage, the gaps at the tops of the bare brick walls had been plugged with empty bread bags and slugs danced across the carpet every night.
I worked for an accountancy firm that also had a Dublin office. For the Christmas party, the Irish contingent came over and joined us for dinner. The previous year, I’d had a flirtation with one of the Irish staffers, but had subsequently learned he had a girlfriend. This year, though, he was quick to tell me he was single. I was just as quick to get exceedingly drunk (although I still remember what I drank: bottled lager, wine with dinner – red and then, when the red ran out, white – a Tequila Slammer, a Black Russian, a White Russian, a Southern Comfort).
I left the hotel with the Irish guy and we staggered from doorway to doorway, snogging ferociously, until we were finally able to flag down a cab, the driver of which, I’m pretty sure, was sorry to have picked us up.
Back at the hotel, I announced to my colleagues – gathered in the bar – that Irish Guy and I were off upstairs. To his room. “To have sex,” I added from halfway up the stairs. You know, in case I’d been too subtle.
It was my first time. I don’t remember much about it. Which is probably for the best.