Do you remember what weekends were like as a student? They lasted anywhere between three and six days, and became this sort of smeared haze, of weed smoke and vodka bottles and pizza and sleeping and wearing the same socks three days in a row – the socks orange, at the bottom of them, somehow stained that colour with a rigorous cycle of damp bathroom floors and sticky kitchen surfaces and the weird matted carpet in your sharehouse lounge – the kind of weekends that go on forever, go on so long you forget what day it is, a weekend that blurs into the vague shape of a week – it squidges, right up to the edges – but never quite fills it.
Then, in that kind of lost summer after uni or college or wherever where you were sort of looking for a job but not really but you sort of were – if your mum asked, you definitely were, but also you very much weren't – you were sort of just going over to your mates' houses a lot and waking up at 2pm and filling in job applications online very, very slowly, in many fragmented parts over a series of days, so that when you did ever finally click "apply" the form came back to say: "Sorry, this application is no longer available. Please refresh the page." And the weekends, then, were more like a sort of endless, six-to-seven week weekend, a weekend so long and tedious it kind of just became this thing, this other, a monster bust out of the form of the week and the weekend, there was no end because there was no beginning, like how can you have breakfast if you never slept? That sort of thing.
And then you actually got a job and, hey, it's not so bad, is it? You're making friends. You have an email address. They pay you, automated, at the end of every month. You're making far more than you ever did on bar shifts. You don't hate wearing an actual pair of trousers, something on your feet that isn't a scuffed and extraordinarily fucked up pair of trainers. This is… actually good? This is… sort of okay?
But being occupied Monday through Friday does something, to you, it imperceptibly alters the DNA of your weekend. What once was this sort of road of possibilities that stretched endlessly into the horizon, now it's compacted into 48 small hours. And where once you were like "Sunday night! Let's! Go! To! The! Pub!", now you're like "but only for a small one, guys, I really have to be up and out early tomorrow morning."
So now we are in the horrible situation where we are living in a world where Hard-Fi have been proven right. We are, truly, living for the weekend. The weekend is the only time, away from the strait laces of the office, where we can now truly be ourselves. Only: god, it's quite knackering, isn't it, working all the time. And you have that laundry to do. And actually there are quite a few emails you didn't get to during the week. But also it's Simon's birthday and Simon always makes a big deal out of his birthdays and look, he's text you a photo of three 24-packs of Becks and two bottles of Smirnoff stacked up on the lino in his kitchen with the caption "pre-drinks?".
Your soul is being squabbled over by two opposing weekend-shaped demons: on one hand, Virtuous You, the person who planned a weekend of brunch and shopping and vigorous exercise. On the other shoulder, Punished You, the version that wants to squeeze every dirty little drop of fun out of the weekend and lick it up like exquisite liquor.
And so here is how you have planned for your weekend to go.
And here is how your weekend actually will go.
EXPECTATION: Heh, 5pm can't roll around soon enough, can it? Listen, take it slow because you've got a big weekend planned: desk beer at 4.30pm, one pint maximum at the pub on the corner with the work crew and then one more at your mate's girlfriend's birthday at that bowling alley nearby (it's ironic, okay!), then get home to make stir fry, catch up on all the week's TV and get a decent night's sleep. Just a chill one. Eat your vegetables and get your sleep. Nothing major. Just a quiet one .Just a little chi—
REALITY: WAY–HEY HEY HEY! WAY–HEY HEY NA NA! Jägerbomb? Jägerbomb? Hey? Jägerbomb? I'm getting you a Jägerbomb! Nah fuck off prick, I'm getting you a Jägerbomb! And so predictably, here you are: it's 8pm and you're still getting pissed with the work lot, texting your mate to tell his girlfriend sorry you missed the candles but you'll be there for later, and two £30 bar receipts are already growing warm and wet in your ass pocket, and then you get an Uber across town then stop off for a can and a walk to the bowling alley, where half the people have left and the vibe is already dropping but you're convinced you can save it – you can salvage this, you can bring this round, you and you alone are the hero of the night! – if all you do is pony up £80 to book two karaoke booths for an hour, but by the time you get back from the karaoke booth then the bar a few more people have fucked off, and you can't get a refund so you just put three people in each booth, and you said MAYBE
I DON'T REALLY WANNA KNOW
HOW YOUR GARDEN GROWS
'COS I JUST WANNA FLYYYYYYYYYYYYY
And you point to someone you half-fancy but not really but they'll do, won't they, they'll do
DO YOU EVER FEEL THE PAIN
BLUH BADDUBA DEE BEE
'COS I JUST WANNA FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
EXPECTATION: There's a Farmer's Market near you that you always see in the afternoon when they're just packing up, and you keep missing out on it, don't you, so you've been meaning to get up early and go one weekend soon, sample the wares, there's a stall that's always sold out of it's sugar-dusted almond croissants and you imagine yourself, don't you, as the sugar-coated almond croissant type, walking around the market with your baked treat and your frothy coffee, and maybe you will buy some of the fresh vegetables there – leafy greens, carrots so ripe and orange it looks like you can polish them – then check out that brunch place that just opened up nearby, where the coconut and hemp acai bowl has got rave reviews. Maybe afterwards you can finally crack open that Hygge book mum got you for Christmas!
REALITY: First message you read when you wake up face down on your pillow, harrowingly alone and at midday, is an Uber receipt saying somehow you spent £28 getting home last night, and three furious missed calls and a "fuck it, fine mate, we're in [pub at least an hour's travel from where you currently are] if you're about" message from the friend you forgot you were supposed to meet this morning, and now you must go about making yourself strong again, and tough.
The first thing you need to do is address this hangover, but it's a Saturday hangover, so it doesn't count. It's not a big hangover – not painkillers and sunglasses and order-in a pizza – but still your insides are feeling quite furry and basically as if someone took your lungs, heart, kidneys and red bits out and put them in a washing machine briefly on spin, and then put them back haphazardly, and so what you need now is food. You have one of two food cravings: an egg sandwich, or a bacon sandwich. These are the only foods you want.
Check the fridge. You do not have any of the ingredients for the above. And so now you have to put on joggers, and trainers, and a top, and count out a load of money from your change mug – you could put this purchase on a card, but you know the corner shop you're going to charges 50p for card transactions and you're not made of money, are you? – and you go and buy one loaf of fat fluffy white bread, an extremely suspect-looking package of bacon ('What is "Dalloway Farm"? you think, idly, in the queue. 'That is a farm that definitely does not actually exist.') and a pint of milk and go back to the flat and do strong tea and two bacon sandwiches (you realise you have neither oil or butter to cook the bacon in so you just sort of roughly fry it in the pan anyway and hope for the best but the smoke alarm goes off regardless) and eat it on the sofa in front of an episode of a Netflix serial drama you are watching but you are not really paying attention and a lot of crucial shit seems to be happening so you know at some point you're going to have to watch this episode again. And lo, life is restored to you.
EXPECTATION: Well sure is a glorious day! There's a sharp pinch in the air but it's bright and dry, so you take the bike you've been meaning to take out for ages out, and run it down the canal, through the parks, round the marshes, see young fresh butterflies and little woodland creatures, pelt it back at a nice little tick and work a sweat up. Maybe, on the way, you dink into a little pub that does artisan pizzas and have a fresh slice and a bottle of Corona, because hey: you've earnt it, right? A beer so cold and crispy you can bite it like an apple and a quick little dip of your hot feet in the cool cool water of the canal. What could be better than that?
REALITY: There is a beer in the fridge so on the stroke of midday you drink it. The afternoon is a write off – shitty film, shower, brief trip to the supermarket for an array of snacks, whole tub of mini muffins to yourself followed by three brisk wanks – so you spend it mostly WhatsApping around to see what's happening tonight. Your three different friendship groups are somehow having four separate parties each in a differently directioned hour-long commute away from your house, so you pick the one that requires the fewer public transport changes to get there, iron something vaguely passable, spritz yourself in cologne or perfume and get out of there, twirling your keys on your finger as you go.
SATURDAY NIGHT, DE-DA-DE-DA-DE-DA-DE-DA
EXPECTATION: Someone you know is "having drinkies" in a pub about 20 minutes from your house, and when you get there all of your friendship groups have converged in the same place and— Tom! How do you know…? I can't believe you know Tom! We used to go to uni together! – and all in all it's just a lovely, wholesome night, where everyone sort of starts sat down on some leathery old pub sofas but slowly rises to their feet, huddled in little groups that you flit happily between, and the sofa is just drowned in coats and scarves and such, and the place starts to rise and bubble with the euphoria of you and your friends, and everyone sticks rigidly to the rounds system – people are buying you drinks! You're three-deep at this table, here! No more gin for me, honestly! – and then the place starts to clear a little but the DJ comes on and puts on floorfiller after floorfiller – some of it cheesy, some of it from the good old days, and then he drops "One Dance" at the exact moment you needed some Drake, and there you are: eyes closed, the sweat of the night wicking your clothes close to your skin, fingers in the air and bouncing from one foot slowly to another, just totally in the moment, "strength and guid–enss", what a night, O what a night, walk home in the warm dry embrace of the night, suddenly calm sobriety overtaking you, walk past the kebab shop and give it a steer, maybe some toast when you get in, glass of water next to the bed after properly adhering to your facewashing routine. Absolute. Fucking. Bliss.
REALITY: The excitement of the night to come. You take the long bus so you can sit on the top deck with a couple of tins, and text people as you make your way there, everyone's meeting in central, for some reason, the bars are shit but the vibe is – I mean you cannot quarrel with that, vibe, can you? And you're sort of texting all your mates and slowly drinking a Heineken and occasionally just leaning your arm against the window and watching as the sky fades from blue thru pink to grey, and the night approaches, and you can feel your heart skip in your chest a bit – wuh-whump, wuh-whump, wuh-whump – and you know this is going to be a good one.
When you get there – it's a bar in central where they pat you down before you're allowed in – there's a few people there already, so you get to the bar to get the drinks in. Quite a heavy queue, though. Three rows of people and you're not really given enough space to look at your phone while you wait, so you're just stood there, crammed in, waiting. It's 15 minutes before you get to the bar – you try leaning on it but there's a slick of beer right where you put your arm, and now your arm is both wet and sticky and cold too – and it's another ten minutes before you actually get the barmaid's attention, and you decide This Isn't Fucking Worth The Wait Again so you get six drinks in when you only really needed three, and some shots too because you're losing your buzz, and by the time you get back to the table more people have arrived and ask you if you need a drink and you say 'yes' because it's gonna be 40 minutes until you see them again anyway, but miraculously they get served in, like, 120 seconds flat, so now you've got three beers and a shot and no self control, and long story short...
So now you've got three mates together in a huddle because you're excitable pissed and you need some gear and you know it's Saturday night so it's going to take a while for anyone to turn up, and you have to do that ritual – who's got a guy? Have you got a guy? I've got a number have you got a number? Okay how much for a gram, where's the nearest cashpoint – and you put in your order for two and let's see how it goes, and long story short...
So now you're crammed in the cubicle for the third time in 20 minutes tapping a line out on the back of your phone, and the blood is pumping and this is good, this is good, tap your teeth with your tongue because this feels euphoric, god this is, this is what they mean, isn't it, when they say "living for the weekend", because god. God. This is the shit. Your night is just starting but the venue is closing so you get an Uber to someone's house, anyone's house, someone has a house don't they, can you get YouTube on your TV mate? I really need to hear eight very specific songs from 2008 like, right now
SUNDAY MORNING (EARLY A.M.)
EXPECTATION: You are soundly asleep
REALITY: You are doing cocaine in someone's bedroom and saying one of the three following phrases a lot:
— "Yeah! Cocaine!"
— "Let's get some more cocaine!"
— "Who's got a number who's got a number have you made the call? Have you made the call? Mate do I need to go to a cashpoint now or shall I PayPal it to you?"
— "No because here's the thing like because: no because what it is is what people think about me, yeah, isn't who I am. And no no no no I mean: it's unfair, isn't it? Because I know people talk and I know what they are saying and I know people see me and think like: yeah. You know? But actually I'm very not like that, at all. Did you know for instance I like French literature?"
Uber home at 5am: £36.08
SUNDAY MORNING (LATE AM)
EXPECTATION: Cheeky jog in the morning, kale smoothie on the way home, long bath, read of a book, check your online banking without fear in your heart and put £20 aside for an ISA. You somehow get three loads of laundry done?
REALITY: You are asleep but not asleep because you took so much cocaine (at one point in the night you started calling it "cock–aye–ee–nah!" in a muy Española accento) that your heart won't stop racing, so instead you are lying in bed and fidgeting a lot and your eyes are closed but you are not actually asleep. Hell. You're in hell.
EXPECTATION: Hey: maybe you'll take yourself to the movies! Nothing quite so liberating as going to the pictures on your own. Just you, La La Land and a whole bag of Minstrels: the dream. And it's still light outside when you get out of there, so you go to the pub and have a big, lovely £14 plate of roast dinner with some of your friends you haven't seen for a while. Someone brings a dog!
REALITY You wake up next to a blue plastic bag of assorted food items you do not remember buying on the way home – two bottles of Yazoo? A Pepperami? Why did you buy a whole bag of Babybel? Did… did you eat six Babybel before bed? – but you're hungry anyway so you try and order pizza but the pizza place isn't open yet so you make the order anyway so your order is first and waiting when they do open the guy calls you to say they don't have any chicken wings and long story short it takes two-and-a-half hours for a large pepperoni pie with a full two litre thing of Coke and a whole ice cream tub to arrive, which you consume entirely in bed while chain-watching Real Detective. By the time you're ready to move in any significant way it is 6pm and you can't actually be arsed with it so you have a shower, order Chinese food in, settle down with some wind down Sunday night TV and wait for the weekend to come to an end. Then you end up staying up until 1am just looking at Instagram a lot, like you always do.
EXPECTATION: You feel great! Supple, relaxed, refreshed. You woke up this morning and had chia pudding you prepared last night. You take a lunch tub of leftovers in to work. I mean you basically have absolutely fuck all to say to your workmates, with their "how was your weekend, then? Good?" basic-ass Monday morning chat, but hey, who cares? You clocked up 24 hours of sleep this weekend. You got up early and made a green smoothie. You ran into the office, and you'll run home, too. All your clothes are ironed. Monday night? Probably fold your legs under your body on the sofa (in your clean front room!), try a new recipe out, and watch a bit of TV. Life's not… life's not actually bad, you know. Everything isn't so bad.
REALITY: You feel like shit, you look like shit, and you are shit. You live your life like shit. See you again on Friday though, yeah?