October 15, 2022•781 words
A message on my phone, from someone on the island no less! My social life is taking an unexpected flourish, the local "crew" is heading out. Not just to the local pub, but to town (still a village)! Of course you can't do the normal quick dash to the supermarket in a hurried attempt to get the next bus back, rather you have to get the one after that - a leisurely few hours to go for a drink. Or so I thought.
The bus is packed, a mix of people being picked up and dropped off on the way to town (nope, still a village). It's the busiest I've ever seen it, guess other people are also heading for a night out! A night out at about four in the afternoon... but hey, we're all a prisoners to bus times here, especially if you want a little drink or two (or, as I found out, a few more).
Everyone seems happy, even if the person who asked me along wasn't there, and no one else realised I was coming. "Where are you heading," asked one of them whom I'd met before. "With you!" I politely replied. "Oh great!". The first hurdle had been passed - now just to awkwardly slide my way into well knit friendship group who had known each other for years. But I was no tourist any more, I was a local - surely I was as much part of the "crew" as anyone?
A short walk, a lot of trees, and we turn the corner to a pub I'd yet to visit. In such a small place I relish the sense of newness, fully aware that it won't be long until I've run out of anything that would come as a pleasant surprise. Inside it was very much a pub, just being itself, not trying too hard to be anything else. People were, as always, friendly, everyone knew everyone's name - apart from mine... I'm still to new to be known outside of my village, let alone in town (no, definitely still just a village).
We sit down. The drinking starts. For the others, drinking didn't stop. There was laughing, frivolity, and more than a little swearing. I joined in where I could, observing where I couldn't. Introduce yourself slowly, that's the key - it's a small place, not only do you only really get one chance to make a first impression, but you also don't really have much choice in terms of friendship. Either you like the people around you, or at least like them enough to socialise, or you don't socialise at all. Thankfully this group more than fell into the former, nice enough people, funny at times, and very warm and welcoming. I guess most people wouldn't move to a place like this, so it attracts a certain kind of person. A little odd perhaps, but nice. Wonder what that says about me?
The evening draws on, it's almost six now - it's time for the usual panic. Where is the bus? When is the bus? Is there even a bus?! If you miss it, you have to hope you can get one of the few taxis, and with the relatively big group that we were, that could prove to be just a little tricky. After much back and forth, attempts at accessing the app, the odd PDF, and some good guesswork, it was decided that that bus was soon. You would have thought, with just the one bus running every few hours they'd know the timetable by now... maybe it was the alcohol. There had been a lot of it.
Then came the bargaining. The bus time was tied to the Ferry - the Ferry was late. There was even an app to see exactly where it was.
"That will give us at least another ten minutes," someone proffered. Another round it was.
Then the dash for a bus.
It was the last bus, and we were the only people on it. It was not the normal day time bus - this was the night bus, the party bus. It went at what could be only be described as lightening speed, shaving entire minutes off of the journey. It was not the normal slow and sedated bus ride home.
But home, the friend of anyone at the end of a long day.
We zoomed past.
Apparently we were going to our local - but how could we go to another pub? We'd been out for hours, it was dark, surely it was almost time for bed? It certainly felt late.
It was only 7pm.
Oh well, maybe time for one more then.