The Montague was the first pub we started drinking in regularly. It was where we spent my 15th Birthday. Edie got up on stage to inform the band that it was in fact her best friend’s birthday and could everyone in the pub sing me Happy Birthday. I think we were quite a cocky bunch of girls because despite being 14/15, we didn’t think we should lay low in pubs at all.
Jasmine, Molly, Georgina and I went for a quiet drink one evening and were playing a board game – I think Trivial Pursuit – when the landlady’s son came over to speak to us, as he was speaking to us he kept looking at my wrist and Molly pointed out after that my ‘Womad UNDERAGE’ wristband was hanging out from under my sleeve.
I first ever drank a little bit after most of my friends, as they were getting shitfaced on Strong Bow at 13. I have a memory of standing outside a corner shop in Sydenham in a pink cat onesie, with 4 other girls all dressed exactly the same as we asked multiple people to go in and buy us alcohol. At some point, a man agreed to get us WKD.
Glen’s vodka is the worst substance to have ever of been created. Writing this, I can still smell it and it makes me feel a bit queasy. It was the choice of drink for most (bar Una who wasn’t seen without 10 pack of pall mall and a cherry lambrini) and One Tree Hill, Dips, Hillyfields, etc were littered with empty bottles of £7.99 Glen’s Vodka when the ‘piss up’ had ended.
One Tree Hill’s were a rite of passage. They were a complex plan that had to be carefully thought out whilst consulting friends. A web of lies about where you were going and where you were staying was standard procedure.
The words that forced all ‘piss ups’ to come to an abrupt end was the shrieking of ‘da popo are here!’ And dozens of teenagers legging it in opposite directions – some crying and some being dragged – like some sort of post battle scene.
One Tree Hill was circled a couple times by police helicopters and once it caused us to flee leaving the tent behind that we had planned to sleep in that night. Instead we all sat up in Triangle Park on the apparatus, shivering, just waiting for it to be an almost acceptable time for us to go back to someone’s house. Don’t feel sorry for us though – completely self inflicted and now I look back the 20 + teenagers just sitting in a park, clock watching has become somewhat a good memory.
I’d liken that night to the scene in Harry Potter where the Death Eaters storm the Quidditch World Cup, everyone running into one another, the deafening screams and fires.
‘Da popo’ and muggers seemed to take in it turns to visit. One group of amateur muggers pretty much just went up to people and asked for phones. One girl went in to melt down mode and howled like a friggin wolf, so I politely asked if she could have it back and because I had ‘manners’ they ‘allowed’ her the phone back. Another boy simply declared to them that he was broke and the phone was so shit they wouldn’t even enjoy it. Because he was ‘safe’ he also got his back.
I would need to consult with others who frequented these park parties to confirm, but I am pretty sure there used to be a man who went by the name of ‘Mr Boom’. I don’t think anyone actually knew who he was but he came without fail, dressed in all white and everyone just accepted ‘Mr Boom’. Another guy brought his 10 year old brother to Blackheath as he was supposed to be baby sitting him that evening but didn’t wanna miss out on all the fun.
A few years on, Jasmine, Gi and I sat on a bench looking at the view from One Tree Hill. It was only about 7pm when the first lot of revellers came up the hill. Dressed in the same American Apparel bodycon’s that had once been our outfit of choice and so babyfaced. That was a sign that we had gotten old, this was no longer our territory!