Foreword: I actually wrote this piece a year following from the event itself, after a well-known UK magazine publication did a small feature on it. I felt compelled to create a more fitting tribute, not only to capture the drama of the incident as it actually happened, but as an acknowledgement to my friend Pamela for organising one corker-of-a-hen-party for herself and her lovely guests. For good measure, I've tried to imitate the style of a women's magazine.
Saturday May 15th, 2009
"Alright, Sexy?” I grinned at my mate Kerren as I walked into Pamela’s kitchen. Kerren and Pamela, like me, were dressed from head-to-toe in Moulin Rouge style costumes. It was only six in the evening, on a Saturday in mid-May, and I’d felt a bit of a wally walking from the car to the house in broad daylight with that amount of leg on display. Still, the effort felt worth it. It was Pamela’s hen party, and we were going to be picked up by a Hummer limousine to be taken to a casino in Bristol and then onto some nightclubs. I’d never been to a casino before, or dressed-up quite like that, but drunken gambling in the company of scantily-clad ladies seemed like a great way to spend an evening. There were only 11 of us invited, plus the bride-to-be, and I felt privileged to be one of the selected few.
One-by-one the other hens arrived – some familiar faces, others who I’d never met – everyone looked fantastic. Pamela had gone to a tremendous effort to make it a special evening. She’d laid on a tasty buffet and drinks at the house, and provided us all with little gift bags of sweets, glow-sticks and personalised badges. “I’m gonna make sure I’m drunk before the limo gets here!” I chuckled, pinning on my ‘Miss Saucy’ badge.
The limo arrived before I’d even had time to get tipsy. We were all so excited as we clambered in, though I felt sorry for Rhea-Jean, Pamela’s daughter, who was in tears as Pamela waved her goodbye. I guess it’s hard to explain to a five-year-old that ‘mummy’s off to Bristol in this weird, oversized car to exchange money for plastic chips; in order to celebrate her last night of freedom’.
As soon as the limo pulled away I was handed a glass of champagne. “Why not?” I said, “Champagne isn’t supposed to give you a hangover”. Though, as I took my first gulp, I did wonder how well it would mix with the peach schnapps I’d already had. Pamela was leaning across the mini bar, flicking through the music selection. ‘Breathe Slow’ by Alesha Dixon was blaring out of the sound system - Kerren and my other mate Kay were singing along. “How depressing!” I playfully scolded them. “Pamela, have we got anything more up-beat?”
She replied: “I’m working on it!” Then, suddenly we heard a BANG, and we were all shunted across our seats as the vehicle jolted forward . . . . .
Then, we stopped moving. Champagne was spilled everywhere. Pamela asked if everyone was okay. We all looked at each other – there were no obvious signs of anyone being hurt. Then, the back door of the car opened – it was Steve, our driver: “There’s petrol all over the road, and I can smell burning – everyone, out!”
There were shrieks of panic as we all clambered out. I was second-to-last, with Kay behind me. The evidence of the impact was obvious – the back of the limo was completely crushed, with both wheels hanging off. Further up the road was the car which had smacked into us – another write-off. Pamela was distraught at her special night being ruined, and she couldn’t help but make her feelings known to the other driver. Had we not been there to calm her down, I think there would have been another casualty.
We walked up the road to make sure we were out of danger. It was cold outside, and I’m sure we were a real sight in our costumes for the other drivers who were trying to steer around the wreckage. Once the shock had worn off, the effect of the crash on some of the hens became apparent: Pamela had whacked her head on the mini-bar, Kay had whiplash, Katie had severe pains in her collar bone; and Kerren - who was later to find out that she was in the early stages of pregnancy - was feeling nauseous from fume inhalation. It felt like a long wait for the ambulance, and we had to huddle together to keep warm. Whilst the limo company summoned another vehicle to take the rest of us home, the four injured girls were taken to hospital.
Pamela’s wedding in Cyprus two weeks later went ahead as planned, and we got to do ‘take two’ of our night out in Bristol some months later. All credit due to Pamela – she knows how to kick off a party with a bang!