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Still alive

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So, I'm still here.

The leaver's party was last Friday, and was much cooler than I expected - good food at the House, followed by much aimless wandering around in the crowds down by the main building. I met up with Fed and Paddy at the house and we walked down there. The person in charge of it this year - Sandy Schott, I think her name is spelt - has never run it before, but she did a pretty good job. Cocktail bar, beer/cider bar, hired band *plus* school bands performing in a seperate tent, a fire eater, a guy on stilts, professional storytellers, big flaming letters saying "Live your Dreams," and, of course, the bungee run and bouncy castle.

My god. Those last two were great. I'm sure you all know what a bouncy castle is; the bungee run is another inflated-plastic job, with two 'lanes' seperated by a divider in the middle. The idea is that two people go and stand down at the end and are strapped onto the ends of some hardcore elastic bungee cord. They then run as far as they can down the lane, slapping their marker onto the divider, before they get yanked back at high speed by the bungee. The person who puts their marker down further is the winner.

I went on that one twice, first against Jane (who I spent most of the evening with [totally]), second against Vinnie. I won every time - got the momentum for it - but lemmie tell you, the snapback on that thing is brutal. It may be one huge airbag, but it was still enough to knock my brain against my forehead. Ouch.

Much of the rest of the evening I spent on the bouncy castle with Jane and Lisa, along with assorted other people that came and went while we were there (Charlie G and Lucy, Fed, Will Bane...). It turns out that both Jane and Lisa attended trampolining sessions for at least the term leading up to the end, so while I was struggling to stand up, they were doing backflips and somersaults and the like. It was funny to watch them doing all this in their ball dresses. Of course, they couldn't rival my running-jump-and-dive. [grin]

At around 1.30am, we'd finished the bottle of mead I took along, and decided that we would Organise an Expedition. After a half-hour of recruiting people and people changing out of their tuxes/dresses, we headed up the hill, the party spreading out by drunkness like some kind of weird chromatography experiment. We started about 15-strong; by the time we reached the top there was only 7 of us, and 3 of those decided that it was far too cold to hang around so they went back down again. That left me, Jane, Vinnie, and Celina (who has got to be one of the coolest people I've met), just lying around on the top of the hill. Vinnie'd had the foresight to bring his iPod, and I did my level best to select some actual chillout music. (He had no Massive Attack, and none of them knew "Slip into something more comfortable" by Kinobe. WTF?!)

After sunrise - a good hour, hour-and-a-half later - we walked back down again. Jane decided that she'd had enough and headed back to her house to sleep; Vinnie did the same as we passed his house. So, at 5:00am, Celina and I strolled into the main building and found the place deserted. Celina decided that it might be a good idea for her to get some sleep too, but her house was locked; I offered to find her a study in number 9 (which I knew to be open), but Lisa turned up so we decided against sleeping and chilled out with her for a while. Other people gradually sloped back in from off the hills, and other places (Tom and Claudia had snuck into the building before it was locked up, it seems, and thus spent the night sleeping in a chair fort they built in one of the big halls). I talked a bit with a very nice german girl called Andrea, one of those who'd left us at the peak; sadly she had to head off fairly early to catch her train. (Meeting a load of cool people for the first time at the Leavers' party isn't the best plan, I know). *Shrug*. Maybe I'll meet her again someday; if so I'll call it destiny and pounce on her before she has the chance to run. [wink]

At 6:00am, one of the caterers turned up with champaigne and strawberries, and then at 7:30, the grub opened for a cooked breakfast. (It cost a fiver, but they made sure that we'd all eaten something before they told us that). I sat around tanking up on coffee while Lisa and Celina finished theirs - and, surreally enough, while Lisa dumped her boyfried through text message - and then, saying my goodbyes and swapping phone numbers, I headed down to the train station. We dropped the suit off on the way back - I took pretty good care of it, I only lost the bow tie - and I crawled into bed at about noon. [smile]

It's the first time I've ever really been to that kind of party, and with any luck, it won't be the last.
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