Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink!”
Heart pounding like a bird in a chimney breast, walls of Cotswolds gastropub slightly spinning, Sophia struggled to down her glass of Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine in one.
At the other end of the table, her fiancé, Ben, was on his sixth pint of Dead Pony Club craft ale.
How they had laughed about the names of beers at the beginning of the weekend, the favourite – the stags had brayed – being Two Women, because that had to be drunk with one hen on each knee.
What a modern idea it had seemed to have a joint hen and stag weekend… How cool! How original! What fun! A hag weekend. Geddit?
But what had seemed like the most brilliant wheeze in a fashionable east London Israeli tapas bar now seemed – in the drizzly half-light of an overpriced Shire – at best slightly foolish and, at worst, potentially catastrophic.
Try as she might, Sophia could not rid her mind of last night’s image of Ben, dressed entirely in her clothes, dancing to Gangnam Style on the kitchen table of the 12-bedroom farmhouse they had found on Airbnb. It wasn’t the lipstick that had bothered her, or even his appalling dancing (he blamed her Manolos). No. It was the way he had so proudly pulled up the skirt of the Erdem dress he was wearing to show the “Just Married” Cheekfrills knickers that her hens had given her as a present to delight him on their wedding night.
As the stags – any pretence at metrosexuality consigned to the dustbin – had headed out in Ubers to the nearest nightclub clad in bikini tops and feather boas, she had taken herself off to her bed where, applying arnica cream to her paint-balling bruises, she recapped the events of the weekend so far.
It hadn’t, if she was being completely objective about it, been all bad. The bubble football had been really quite amusing and everyone, male and female alike, seemed to have enjoyed flopping out in front of her Friends box set. Plus, she was hopeful that the following morning’s unisex mani-pedis would be a hit (surely, she reasoned, anything that was good enough for David Beckham would also be good enough for the stags).
Until, that is, the next morning when the stags were nowhere to be found.
The reunion for a gastropub lunch proved, therefore, a terse one, not least because Ben’s best man, Louis, had brought a pile of traffic cones with him, which he proceeded, for no logical reason, to put around the table in their private dining room.
Having abandoned, by this point, any hope of intelligent communion with the stags, the hens (who were already planning a more civilised girls-only pre-wedding long weekend in Kefalonia) settled themselves at one end of the table and ordered a pot of jasmine tea and large platter of antipasti to share.
Down at the other end, the stags were playing dirty Chinese whispers as they waited for their all-day breakfasts.
In a last ditch attempt at unity, someone suggested a drinking game, in which Sophia and Ben were to be tested on their intricate knowledge of each other’s lives. Which was why Sophia now found herself on her third glass, and Ben (who, despite a decade of togetherness, apparently had no idea where his future wife had been to school, no idea of her shoe size or what superpower she wanted to have) was retching his way through his sixth.
It was definitely time to get the bill and head home, Sophia thought as she looked sadly at how pretty her engagement ring looked on her freshly manicured hand.
Quite why the waiter, who came over to take payment with his credit card machine was unbuttoning his shirt, she really had no idea. But then, as he turned around to show her what his apron wasn’t covering, the horrible reality dawned on her…
As the assembled hags hooted with laughter and hammered the table, Sophia glared at Ben. “Oh come on baby!” he shouted. “At least it’s contactless!”