Birthdays and Buses and strange pork that glows

I’m listening to the best megamix I’ve EVER HEARD right now. Thus far I’ve heard Abba, Kylie, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, New Order, Depeche Mode, Tiffany, Madonna, Petshop Boys and Wham. It continues unabated. Everyone, even the man across the aisle from me who looks like he is three hundred and twenty four years old, is rocking out.

Meanwhile I am kicking back in a lovely comfortable leather seat which will recline 180 degrees (at such time as I care to sleep) to form a flat bed in which I shall snuggle like a queen under a fleecy blanket with my head resting on a soft pillow.

I am just about to be served a delicious meal free of all the things I cannot eat, accompanied by unlimited wine, then champagne… And it will be eaten to the backdrop of some cracking films. There’s a man in a shirt and tie who bellows “Como esta, senora!”* every time I go downstairs for a wee and even free wifi.

And oh my god he’s just handed me a bingo card! We’re only about to play effing BINGO!

I think this might just be the best coach journey of my life.

… Oops, sorry. I was busy losing at bingo. And watching the man and woman in front of me flirting. We’re barely out of Buenos Aires and already he’s asking her if she’s ever lived with a boyfriend. She has. He sounds pretty f*cked off. But he’s obviously undeterred as he’s just ordered her an extra glass of Champagne. Oh, Argentina! How I love you! Nothing would persuade me to fly in this country if there was a bus available. They are like houses on wheels and are jam-packed with entertainment. The meal which is currently being served is three courses long. I mean seriously! WTF?! MAZIN.

Anyway I’m sure there are limits to your interest in my coach journey so I’ll change the subject and talk about something else that probably doesn’t interest you all that much: my turning of age.

I turned twenty four on Friday and celebrated in style with an asado on the roof terrace of my friends’ apartment. I have a long history of throwing parties in this apartment in spite of never having actually lived there. Although my guest list was probably about an eight of my 30th birthday party the year before (sorry, I mean my twenty-third) I had an absolutely excellent evening. And an excellent day in general.

It began with my friends capering downstairs singing happy birthday in their pyjamas and presenting me with a book of Argentine swear words. I was enthralled. Given that I have the foulest language of probably anyone I know I am glad to now be able to yell things like “go and screw a hampster you dirty knobhead prostitute” when the nice old lady in the kiosko gives me the wrong change. **

Then came something I have never, ever done on my birthday: chilling. Doing little. Seriously! We just sat around and had music on and sent a few emails and chatted and had coffee… This really is a revelation to me. Who knew? Relaxing really is fun! In fact I find it rather sad that the only day of the year I permit myself a day off from my punishing schedule of whatever-the-hell-it-is-that-keeps-me-busy-from-morning-til-night is my birthday. Maybe by the time I’m forty I will give myself one week off per year or something. Although let’s not get carried away.

Next came a skype call from The Man. He had barricaded himself into the boardroom at his company and had a cake with candles (well, a hot-cross bun) and a small bottle of champagne (ok, cava.) He sang to me and we had some jolly chat. Then my friends covered their ears and heaved while me and him mumbled mush at each other.

Next was lunch (paid for by The Man) at my favouritist cafe in the whole world which is called Helena. Their salad #4 with lomo is just about the best meal you’ve EVER had. As my friend BBB pointed out, it’s basically a roast dinner in a bowl with some lettuce and lovely dressing. We all sat in silence, eating voraciously and smiling dreamily. Lovely.

Then BBB’s wife TBB stole her husband’s wallet and off we ran to the vintage shop up the road. It was heaven. It reminded me of how much I miss clothes and (as I’ve said before) fashion. I ain’t no victim – my wardrobe is topshop, primark and vintage – I would have no idea what to do with a pair of Laboutin heels (I’ve probably spelt that wrong) or a Marc Jacobs handbag – but I do miss looking like something other than a scarecrow. I miss having an iron and a selection of tops that extends beyond five manky vests and an effing fleece. I HATE FLEECES.

TBB bought me a lovely vintage cardigan. Mmmmmm. It is blue and green with big gold buttons and large pockets in which you could store a book or a stoat or a flask o’ gin.

We returned and commenced preparing the asado. TBB made some focaccia bread which was the best thing I’ve ever eaten, I made some extremely middle class salads and BBB got going on manly things like barbecues, meat salting and beer drinking.

People arrived. Wine began. And with it came chaos. Only three hours later I was dancing on a ‘podium’ on the roof terrace with the gays, Cesar was half-naked and drinking fernet out of a saucepan, BBB was wrestling with a piece of meat that was definitely of alien descent- I mean, look at it! Since when was pork fluorescent pink and translucent? And my friend LT was doing outrageous things to someone else’s bottom. We went off to a club at about 3am (God save us) and danced to dirty Cumbia for a while until someone had a word with the DJ and on came the Black Eyed Peas. We all went mental. I even made the nightclub’s website!

I had a lovely, lovely day and when I woke up the next morning feeling terrible I realised that for all the stresses and dark times that come with travelling (and trust me, there are many), despite my constant state of fear about not having written anywhere near enough of novel 2, despite my state of financial ruin, I am the luckiest girl alive.

My name is Lucy Robinson, I am thirty one, I am happy and I am grateful. So there.

PS: about the couple in front of me on the bus. It’s now the next day and I can report that a mega-romance has commenced! What makes me laugh the most is that even though they were DEFINITELY snogging when the lights went out, the man had to ask her name this morning when we arrived in Mendoza and they exchanged numbers. That’s real romance.

*It is worth noting that here in Argentina they do not use greetings this formal pretty much ever. I am basically being addressed as if I were a member of the royal family. Quite bloody right I tell you! Just look at me after all! Faded harem pants which don’t really fit – we’re not far off camel toe territory – an old H&M top with a hole in the region of my right boob and an even older mushroom coloured hoodie which dried badly so it smells of clothes that haven’t dried properly. I’ve got dark roots, no makeup, a pedicure that has grown out so badly that it is 60% toe, 40% paint and an infuriating outbreak of spots. Damn straight he should be addressing me with such formality! Damn straight!

**Not true


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