“Do you guys drink?”
The question was as strange as the still-invisible questioner. Before anyone had a chance to say ‘duhh’, the speaker rounded the corner of the beach huts and appeared from the darkness.
“I mean, do you drink alcohol? Champagne?”
He was English – probably London, late 20s, and if appearance was anything to go by, half-cut. He was toting an open bottle of bubbly, most of the way full. After a couple of glances at one another, we managed to get an answer over.
“Yeah, yeah, sure.”
“I’ve just got back on the motorbike from Beach Number Seven. It was crazy there.” he slurred, just about staying upright. “These guys from a huge ship…come ashore, set up these tables…every kind of food and drink you can imagine.”
The un-askable questions stacked up fast in the warm night air around us. Who? Where? And mostly, How the fuck did this guy make it all the way across the island, on a motorbike, in pitch darkness, and in this state? The four of us had had a few glugs of rum each, but this guy was only just upright.
“I sees them setting up and just serving it, loads of people around, so I thought I’d try asking for a beer. They had these boxes of Becks, see. And they just went ‘yeah’ and handed me one. So then I had a few more. So then I thought, I’ll try some wine. So I asks for a bottle of red, and yeah. So then I tries white, and yeah. So then I thought I’ll try asking for champagne.” He grinned and nodded conspiratorially. “And they just opened a bottle and handed it right to me. So I got through that and got another one.”
He handed the bottle in question to me. I glanced at the label in the light of the beach hut porch lightbulb. Cuvee Brut, the real deal. You couldn’t buy this anywhere on Havelock, that was for sure; and the residual coldness meant it hadn’t been brought in someone’s suitcase. This guy had, indeed, stumbled on a private shore party, and rinsed it for every drop he could, before motorbiking it back home swigging an open bottle of bubbly. Well, who wouldn’t, right?
In the face of this fantastic but apparently true tale, no-one could get anything across other than a few noises of gratitude and amazement. Before any of our wits could return, he was off, stumbling towards the next row of beach huts, disappearing as suddenly as he’d appeared.
“Anyway, enjoy, g’night.”
“Night! And, er, thanks!”
After we’d finished laughing, there was enough for a glass each, and you can believe that it went down a treat.