Harry was in no way enigmatic. ‘Dull’, ‘boring’, ‘unenergetic’ and ‘grey’ were all words used to describe him. London born, a 23 year old man living in Northern England who could easily be mistaken for a languages teacher who wears tweed was by no means exciting. Despite this, he had quite a few friends. By friends, of course, it was really a lot of acquaintances who put up with him, rather then actively enjoyed his ludicrous sense of anger and hate at everything. This persistent moaning was really just a way for him to let out his many frustrations in life. Complaining about the price of Lidl chocolate was just his psyche recalling how bitterly disappointed he should be in his college grades. Whinging about the discolouration of young peoples’ brand new jeans was just a way for his mind to get over the severe lack of female contact he’s had.
All they wanted to do was go on a stag weekend in Edinburgh. It was a friend-of-a-friend, but it was a blow-out weekend with booze, alcohol and beer for all meals. The kind of weekend when any woman procured from a nightclub would only be done so through the constant appliance of shame and lack of dignity in the general direction of any female with low enough self esteem to ‘give up’.
Harry expectantly packed his deluxe set of Tripp travel bags. £320 after a 50% sale was a great deal in January, despite the fact that Harry had no plans to travel. But good things come to those who wait. He was expecting a deluxe experience. 7-star hotel. Monkeys on roller skates would serve all who enter the golden archway of the hotel doorstep, speaking a cute version of English that would make you reminisce about Manuel from Faulty Towers. The bath would be lined with gold leaves, and Evian would pour out of it, piped directly from the French alps. Attendants would be on hand to do his every wish with meticulous effort and attention to detail. Linen would be warm as it came to his room. The kind of warm that a woman would ordinarily give off, but the seven star hotel guests are far too rich, important, prim & proper to possibly let their lives be lead astray by a mere woman. The window would have the most magnificent view. Of Saturn.
Instead, Harry, dressed in a new, internet-purchased (and thus improperly fitting, because everyone thinks they’re a medium, not a large) 2008 Hugo Boss suit that footballers wear to press events after laying a lady of the night – behind their wife’s back, but in front of the photographer from the Sun, was greeted with a hotel that looked like a Cambodian drug den. The guys didn’t mind, it had a bar after all.
He was looking for sophisticated evenings sipping fine Chardonay from the beautiful hills of South-Western France, not cartons of wine from Tesco called “Red Wine” followed by his friends swan-diving into mounds of cocaine like Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales.
Nevertheless, he buckled up for a night of teeth-grindingly laborious drinking with people who are likely to end up in court the following day after an ‘incident’ in the hot tub – Michael Barrymore style. The night began quiet, as the boys were tired after their lengthy trip to the ether of civilisation. A few pints in the local pub and a bit of dinner to lubricate the party embryos. Of course, Harry reveled in the conversation whenever it moved away from football. He tried to fit in by randomly saying phrases like “Yeah, Liverpool are shit” and “What a nonce, alright”. His ill-timed interjections never raised a laugh, but also never raised suspicion as to his football watching habits. A minor success by Harry’s standards.
Another pint down his neck and Harry was feeling a little ill. He wasn’t sure what was happening. All he had for dinner was lasagna and chips. No one else seemed ill, and most of them had been eating all kinds of random stuff at the buffet, to try and get their moneys worth. Harry said nothing, in fear of appearing like a girls blouse. Soon the ill feeling turned to flutters of blushing in his cheeks and his heart beating irregularly. Some slight dizziness, but he got over it. Gasping for water was an emotion he only felt when he went on a school tour to Cairo. Now, in a damp pub, he felt the exact same physical disability. He needed water before his mouth got so dry it resembled Madonna’s nether-regions. Right then, as he thought of his favourite Madonna tracks, he focused on the music. It was good. He began to tap the table to it, as another pint came his way. The round hadn’t reached him yet, so so far, 3 pints in, he was feeling good and hadn’t spent a penny.
The guys at the table noticed Harry’s unusually jovial mood and commented on it and rather then cringe, tip his chin into his chest and fix his glasses furiously, Harry quipped back. They weren’t good quips. “Your mum” is nothing new – but the guys got a cheap laugh out of seeing someone who looked like an Urban Dictionary definition of “virgin” hit back at the “cool crowd” with jokes. He was coming out of his shell, just a bit. One of the guys put his arm, drunkenly, around Harry’s shoulders and squeezed. He was making a joke about Harry getting “brave” while on booze. Harry didn’t hear the words, he just felt how wonderful the cloth on his shoulder was. He could feel every last centimeter of thread rub gently off his shoulder like the ocean slowly caressing a beach. He was focused entirely on the moment. He felt like he had never felt before – happy. Happy in the moment. Nothing else mattered at that moment. Even when the guy removed his arm, Harry was lost in a moment, with the bopping music deep in the background, barely audible, all Harry felt was oceanic calm.
Then the words from the ‘friend’ sitting directly opposite him cut through him like a knife. “You enjoying that pill, mate”. Harry’s bliss was entirely based upon drugs. They spiked him. Suddenly he wanted to get out of that world – but at the same time, it was so good. So nice to feel free and wonderful. He decided to embrace the moment and go with the flow. He wasn’t dead, he didn’t feel sick… and he’d save a packet on not buying booze all night.
So off the crew went, more bonded then ever before, to a nightclub. Two taxis to carry the load and they went to a busy, loud nightclub the likes of which Harry had never dared venture. He undid the top buttons on his shirt with the sincere aim of dancing the night away, picking up a lady and finally becoming the Harry of dreams. He popped his collar, bought his round of drinks and hit the dancefloor with his new friends.
…the next day, Harry woke up tired, sore and with such a severe case of cotton mouth that he could barely talk. There was no woman beside him in the bed, but on the plus side there also wasn’t a man there, either. He got up, walked to the small ensuite in the room and noticed a foul stench. He had gotten sick everywhere. After managing to somewhat clean it, it was a good idea to report it to the hotel staff and apologise. Maybe he could blame one of the guys? He went to the wardrobe where he had maticulously unpacked his dull items of attire. He noticed another smell. And another. Both mixing to the foulest concoction he had ever managed to smell. Defecating in your shoe is one thing. Urinating in the pocket of your raincoat, is another altogether.
Defeated in his hungover misery, Harry sat down on the chair and opened his laptop. Straight to Facebook he went, where already his friends and their mobile phones had posted 62 pictures of Harry in varying stages of drunken mess. He had managed to ‘score’ two women. And one man, passionately. Turning on his phone, Harry had 15 missed calls and a pile of texts. All from his family and work mates, all enjoying the satire that was unfolding live on the internet. Later, in work of all places, from his manager of all people, he came to know that his friends were putting updates of everything he was doing on various social media outlets. Checking-in on foursquare, tweeting pictures, facebooking updates – you get the picture. 63,000 people were following his adventures that night. A live stream of absolute debauchery. His reputation as a dullard was gone. He was now a party animal on the cutting edge of humiliation.
Harry’s story is not unique. Millions suffer social media abuse every year. Please donate to the Half a Giraffe appeal to stop this heinous, and needless suffering. Every penny spent will ensure nightclubs, bars and drug dens are equipped to turn off mobile and wifi signals when it’s clear a group of iPhone owners are gathering around a drunken mess of a man, or woman, with the soul aim of uploading these images to the internet, right there & then. Make the suffering end.