Memory lane at Munki’s 30th

I saw her a split second before she saw me. You know how it is. That strange recognition light turns on in a comfortable part of your brain. Features automatically realign into an expectant and friendly greeting. Then there’s nothing to do but wait.

We locked eyes and she stopped mid stride, almost did a double take. Then a smile lit up her face and we were exclaiming each other’s names and reaching for hands. Two ghosts of work and social past reunited in god knows how many years, we couldn’t even hazard a guess.

Anna was just as I remembered her. Petite and beautiful like a porcelain doll, effortlessly feminine and chic in a way I’ll never be. But she was the same and different – more worldly looking, more sophisticated – and I told her so.

“We both look so much more grown up now,” she said in return.

We began our journalism careers together on the same London dance music magazine. I was the editorial assistant and she had just been selected for a graduate scheme – a bright young thing come from Sheffield, where she’d finished university and ended up totally skint, staying on her mate’s floor and working in a call centre to keep the wolf from the door.

This was her big break, as was it mine. I’d muscled my way in via work experience, leaving a job behind in the Civil Service, Policy Correspondance Unit. I felt like I’d won the lottery.

So Anna arrived, and we became fast friends and sometime partners in crime. Skulking around festivals, free drinks, club nights and house parties, circa 2000. I never ceased to be amazed at her ability to stay out for eight hours straight in heels I probably couldn’t even walk round the room once in. And she never smudged her lipstick either.

Eventually she went freelance and I went back to University, and we lost each other in the accelerated mess of London living. But before that we shared many memorable moments.

One particular night stuck in my head. One of my many flat warming parties (me and my then boyfriend seemed to move house every six months back then). Surrounded by red wine stains on the hours earlier pristine cream carpet. Lying on fronts, legs lolling in the air like kids at story time, telling each other: “No, you don’t understand – you just don’t understand how gorgeous you are.”

We laughed about it and many other silly little snapshots from our shared past.

It was certainly a night for a hop, skip and a jump down memory lane. It was my best friend Munki’s 30th birthday party. And in between just watching her enjoy the party she worked so hard on making happen (this I did with what I imagine to be the air of a proud parent) I played over a similar scene as the one with Anna, with many other key players from my past.

It really felt like a work reunion when I got a tap on the shoulder from Stan. Not only did we all work for the same magazine, but me and Stan shared an apartment – Casa Wonky – during my first season working for our magazine in Ibiza.

Where to even begin with the reminiscing?

Me: “Do you remember the time you swapped clothes with Phoebe that New Year’s Eve, and you walked down the street and no one even noticed?”

Him: “that time I had to change a tire on Jimmy’s car and you didn’t even get out of the front seat?”

Me: “What was it exactly that happened to Giles’ car – something about a television landing on the roof?”

Ibiza was a whole new world. I really had no clue what to expect. And Stan, having done it all for many years in a row, was something of a guru to me. We shared a room, though we were hardly ever in it at the same time.

Somewhere near the start of the season he told me: “Ibiza changes you – you wait and see.”

And he was right. But perhaps not in the way I expected. I didn’t turn my back on modern life to become a hippy and live in a squat. But I did make my mind up that leaving London was the right thing to do. More than that – Spanish culture, I thought, suited me nicely. It would do just fine.

So there we were, a decade on from when we first got acquainted. “So what have you been doing with yourself for the past ten years?” Anna asked.

“I hardly know,” I told her. “A lot of growing up. I learned a lot. I thought I knew it all when I was 20. turns out I knew shit.”

“Do you ever wish you could go do it all again, knowing than what you know now?” she asked.

For me it was an easy and iron clad no. My mistakes and fuck ups shaped me into who I am today, maybe even more than the things I’ve done right. They moved me along my merry way, stumbling to where in the world I am now. Small bits of the journey sucked, sure. But I wouldn’t change a thing – not even the bits that make me cringe.

It was all pretty philosophical stuff for 4am Sunday morning as we stood there in a disused leather factory-turned party venue in Shoreditch.

In days gone by we might have got the shots in and set out to find as much trouble as it’s possible to find. But times had changed. We were all flagging. I was gulping banana and strawberry smoothie straight from the carton and Stan had to drive back to Kent. He wasn’t entirely confident about where he’d parked his car – a dodgy type had asked him if he wanted to buy any acid before he’d even reached the end of the road.

So they left, with promises to come see me in Madrid, which I hope they keep. And I turned back to the party, replaying past scenes of my life in my head like chapters of a DVD. Till someone drew me back to the present day with a touch of the arm and something indecipherable shouted in the ear. It was definitely time to stop being wistful and start dancing.


  1. Gawd bless Stan and Anna. Wish I'd have been able to make it to that party, photos look fan too. You're right about Anna still looking amazing too :-)

  2. Noel, I didn't know you followed my blog -thanks for reading! Wish you could have been there to join in the reunion. xxx

  3. Kathski - Phoebe told me about your blog. This is such a lovely post and I was really glad to see you too. I'm keeping that Madrid promise too. x

    (And thanks Noel!)

  4. Anna! Glad you liked it my dear. Madrid will be waiting for you! x