There’s a traditional ditty sung at birthdays and stag nights that burns through to the very core of my soul. It’s sung in all oblivious innocence in my presence by people who aren’t in on the joke. For those who are, it’s sung as a rapier-like riposte, the tip of which pierces the soul like the sight of your best fast bowler being flayed back over his head for six. ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ they’ll lustily sing, eyes pointing like daggers my way, smirks with razor-sharp edges.

Occasionally my mates will just sing this without waiting for an occasion. ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’. It still hurts.

Several years ago I organised a Stag Do (it may even have been my own, I wasn’t even getting married, it didn’t matter) to the West Coast of Ireland. As tradition dictates everything fell to me to arrange, which, having done a few of these tours before, I undertook this task with customary enthusiasm with nothing overlooked or left to chance.

We would fly the red eye from Luton to get to our transit destination, Knock, for breakfast. We’d then get to our destination proper, Galway, for a weekend’s worth of salty badinage and the type of drinking sessions the late, lamented Peter O’Toole may have been proud of.

A gin-soaked EasyJet flight from Luton was followed by a lot of waiting around at Knock airport for, seemingly, the only six-seater taxi journey of the day to George Town, the closest town to Knock Airport. In this time Welsh Andy broke the Guinness World Record for Speedy Stout Skulling as impatience infiltrated our close knit group like boozy wildfire. Unluckily, we had to wait some more time for a bus, and rather than doing something sensible like completing the sudoku or playing I-Spy, we availed ourselves of one or two of the local hostelries to raise the hedonism levels another notch.

Couldn’t we just have gone to Edinburgh instead?

Glances were shot my way, bitter murmurings had permeated the sweet drunk talk. In short, my abilities as the group’s peerless party planner were being called into question. What had seemed such a good idea at the time was now looking insanely daft.

Couldn’t we just have gone out in London instead?

The bus journey, when it eventually came, was the longest three hours of my life, longer, even, than the complete hash I made of my History A-Level exam. We trashed the bus. I sobered up enough to sink into the depths of despair as the chaos raged all around me. Oliver Cromwell himself would’ve been made more welcome had he embarked at one of the pretty villages we passed through.

Couldn’t we just have gone out in Bedford instead?

After an eternity, we reached Galway. I don’t know how we made it off the coach into the next pub, but we did.
We’re met there by Eats’ cousin. ‘What took you so long? she asked. Sheepishly I spoke up.
‘Well, the airlines running from Luton fly only to Knock which is, quite clearly, the nearest airport to Galway. We’ve had to get a bus down here. I’ll be honest, when I booked it, it seemed reasonably straightforward.’

‘Yeah, you know all the Irish airlines fly from Luton straight to Galway.’

The jukebox ceased. Drinks were slammed down on the table. The whole pub, no, the entire town seemed to be looking at me. The world stopped. My knees gave. My throat dried. My soul sunk like a ten pence piece to the bottom of a pint glass.

I slowly turned round to look at my mates. Anger, visceral hatred, then laughter. Howls and howls of raucous laughter.

‘For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow….’

I think you know where this is going….

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