After a quick six week stint in Ireland, I decided to move to London. I moved into a three story Victorian house in Earls Court (Aussie & Kiwi Backpacker Central) that housed approx 24 Aussies & Kiwi’s. These guys were all on a two year working Visa and were out to save some money, have some fun and travel the world.
I had only ever been to London twice before this and that was when I was just passing through on route to Greece. Holy shit London was big and very impersonal, a crazy melting pot of people from all over the world. I was a bit intimidated to say the least. I ended up sharing a room with four other guys and girls from Australia. Rent worked out at 20 pound a week each. Mind you, the house only warranted 20 pound a week. There were holes in the stairs, walls and bathrooms, and the kitchen reminded me of something out of an old Stephen King movie. To top it all off, the house was overrun with bed bugs! We used to joke and say that "the rats wore overalls" in the house.
It was low overhead, and now I had a base, and address and could get a job. Also, I knew it was only temporary, “Thank God.”
I got some crappy office clerk job through a labor hire agency for a few days a week. I gotta admit it was a bit depressing at first. I only knew a few people in London, who were all doing their own thing. I didn't even want to contact anyone till I at least had some money in my pocket and felt comfortable having a night out.
After a few months of crappy work, I got another job with an Irish Woman selling computer training courses over the phone. I was now an "Account Manager." After about two weeks of training, I was a pro. I still didn't know crap all about computers, but I talked like I did. I loved it, most of the time I was speaking to HR girls who were booking training courses for their employees. They loved my accent and wanted to talk all day and our courses were actually pretty good (so I was told) so it was an easy sell. I was on salary plus commission, which was great. We always blew through our targets. I also got a job in a local bar in Hammersmith, bar backing and bar tending and did the same trick as I did in Greece. Instead of picking up all the empties, I’d pick up a few full beers as well and drink them in the bathroom at high speed. I'd even pick up some drinks and give them to the girls I worked with. They loved it, and thought I was crazy. The bar manager was a major Coke head from the Isle of White and was always up for a few beers and a laugh after work. He used to come out of the bathroom with bits of coke hanging out of his nose and talk some crap. He was always trying it on the girls we worked with. I used to get a good laugh listening to his nonsense while having a few beers at the end of the night.
Finally, I was making some decent money at my new job and felt good. I must admit, I had thought about leaving London quite a few times in the beginning, especially when I was broke and felt a bit out of place.
I moved into a two bed semi luxury apartment in Hammersmith with Scott, a good friend of mine that I had met in Greece, and both of our girlfriends at the time. My buddy and I were partying quite a bit which didn't go down too well with our girlfriends. Also, my friend had been charged with allegedly transporting some ecstasy pills from Holland to England and was looking at a few years in prison if convicted. So to say the least, there was some tension around the apartment.
We both ended up splitting up with our girlfriends at the same time (which worked out perfect) and moved into a three bedroom house in east London. Within a week, I knew it was the best decision ever and I had a new family. My good friend Liam from Dublin (not “The Liamo” who had been to Greece with me in 1995, but a different Liam ) moved in also. Liam had moved to London not long after I got there and moved in with his brother in North London. He was looking for a house closer to the city, so the timing was perfect. Liam was up for anything, the crazier the better. Also, a New Zealand couple (friends of friends) moved in, Tony & Ben (Ben was short for Rebecca). They ended up hanging out with us all the time. They were an amazing fun couple. It was a real fun family, the five of us.
The party was in full swing. I gave up my bar job and now my weekends were free. I lived for Fridays. Every Friday was dress down day in the office I worked in. So I would come to work in my jeans and trainers ready to party. I used to bring a small backpack with a change of clothes and a tooth brush. I'd usually meet Liam & Scott in the Punch & Judy Bar in Covent Garden and we'd start the session there with some other friends and then make our way to some club or party. Most weekends, I'd stay out all weekend at some club or party and/or friends' house. We used to hit up places like Bagleys in Kings Cross (see video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjZjbQEDsJ0 and The Cross, also the Aquarium on Old Street and sometimes Sunny Side Up and of course the Fridge in Brixton. I loved the music, but I was more into socializing. I used to spend half the night in the chill out rooms drinking beers, smoking and chatting with other ravers. We always ended our weekend drinking in Camden Town on Sunday afternoons with a good group of friends reminiscing over what happened on Friday & Saturday. Times were good.
We never knew when and what exactly was going to happen to our good friend and roommate as his Court case was dragging on for so long (well over a year). So, we had a going away party nearly every weekend. His friends used to come up from Hampshire and our friends used to fly over from Dublin on Ryanair flights and join us for a party.
And then the inevitable happened, he got convicted and sentenced to a few years in prison. Suddenly everything changed. It just wasn't the same without him. Tony & Ben moved out and Liam and I had decided to leave London and go travelling around the world. Tim from Stoke, Doug from Wolverhampton and Dave (a school friend of mine from Dublin) decided to join us on our trip. We decided to leave on March 3rd 1999 and make our way to Australia with a few stops on the way.