This story is legendary.
When I was fresh out of University I moved down to live with my then girlfriend (now wife) Francesca in Southampton,England. Southampton is ugly city on the southern coast of England, a sort of sea parasite that has evolved into a city size and started to ooze itself out of the water trailing its port behind it. It grips the land like a limpet, munching on the ancient forest to its north and spitting at passing traffic.
I loved living there obviously.
Anyway, being a penniless ex-student, I was forced to do the decent thing and out and get a job. I had no idea about work, and having been a student (a student of Philosophy no less) I was under the very mistaken impression that I was going to somehow lounge around indefinitely. Finding work was for the lower orders, us high minded Philosophers subsided dear boy, and work was like kryptonite to a student. I quickly found that I was desperate to eat and thus would take any work were I would be paid for doing not very much.
Like all those in such a position I became a security guard.
My first (and last as you will hear!) assignment was to guard a yacht’s racing mast worth upwards of a million quid (2 million $) down at the docks overnight. This sounds easy enough as I would only have to check in once every hour and would be on my own to relax and see the wonderful sights of the endless sea.
More fool me.
Southampton docks at night are not wonderful. They are dirty, oily, unpleasantly quiet and probably crawling with murderers and rapists. Although they wouldn’t be able to get me as the fog had come in and I could barely see 10 meters in front of my face.
That’s the sea view out then, I thought.
Eventually I found the tiny little hut I was looking for and sure enough no insane mast thieves had yet made off with the bloody huge racing mast laying next to it on some sort of stanchion.
Once I opened the hut door I realised that it had:
No running water
and most importantly it had no toilet
It was in fact a simple desk with a small lamp and a phone. A big old phone the like of which Commissionaire Gordon would use to call for Batman. The hut had a large set of windows on all sides and I could see the edge of the docks and long dark drop to the freezing ocean ahead. Charming.
I sat down and wrote and entry in today’s section of my diary. It simply said:
For me staying up late, all night in fact, requires some sort of stimulant. My choice was 3 cans of Diet Coke and by midnight it was very very dark and very very quiet.
I was also in very very clear need of somewhere to urinate.
What to do? The hut had no loo. I held on and on, but I was eventually very desperate. So, I called up the office and asked for help. “Go off the fucking docks you twat”, was the only sage advice my controller had for me.
I looked out of the window at the edge. The docks was so desolate and devoid of any other life at this time of night I actually decided to try it. I left the hut and waded through the pitch black, fog towards the edge and the 30ft drop into the water. The edge was slippery, but I didn’t care; necessity grasped me now. I hurriedly unzipped the growler and with relief a wonderful arcing line of pure pee flashed into the darkness and dropped into the drink with a satisfying tinkling sound. I was really feeling better when suddenly I heard,
My ears nearly split and my heart put on spiked running shoes and did a quick lap of my insides causing me to nearly fall in!
But this was nothing, because the source of the excruciating loud sound was the fog horn of the Isle of Wight ferry silently gliding into view about 3 bloody meters away from me. My pee, still arcing into the water ran up the side of the ferry as its enormous bulk passed by me. The crew and 20 odd drunken passengers, returning from the many bars on the Isle, could see me very clearly as well as see my ghostly white shocked face as I watched dumbfounded.
As one they all cheered!
I almost died on the spot from horror.
Finally, my mind unfroze and I pulled myself together enough to run and hide in my hut. I tried to calm down but my legs were like rubber and my ears still rang from that awful fog horn. But, there was no chance of escaping my ignominy as 15 minutes later the ferry made its way back to the Isle of Wight and the entire crew, armed with power torches, lined up along the side of the ship and joined arms as they serenaded me with: “Why was he born so beautiful, why was he born at all?!”
With a very red face I opened my diary back up and underlined today’s entry.