I was walking past Fulham Broadway station in July 2006 trying to sort out my car parking permit, having just moved to London. Then my phone rang and it was John Johnson who was in Ibiza. John is one of my mates, I used to live with him for a while and I know him through Neil Macey. I answered and John was on his own and in Ibiza. He said to me “what are you doing the first weekend in December?” Of course that was 5 months away so I said I had no idea, but John likes to plan lunatic ideas in advance, so he said “Fancy going to an Ibiza reunion weekend in Skegness?” I had to deliberate over it and said I’d phone him back. I boarded a bus, and John phoned again. “I need to know now, I’m about to book it!” So…”Why the fuck not I thought!” Suddenly John and I were booked on a Big Reunion Weekend for Ibiza in Skegness. I’d never ever been to Skegness, I’d never ever been to Ibiza!!!
And then it arrived. Friday 1st December 2006 we were booked on an 8 am party coach with the other London-based attendees…the night before I had finished work happy, off for 3 days, just been a nominee for Bite Employee Star of the Month (Wahey!!), passed my review in work and we went to Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch The Bluetones, one of my long lost favourite Brit pop bands, so everything was going well! Then up early and we caught the Slade Green – Charing Cross train, did the walk to Embankment station and then the district line tube to Victoria (the normal way I’d have gone had I been working) and there we were waiting for this party bus. John and I sat beside each other at the start on the bus, and I was a bit tired so grabbed some sleep. The bus would take a few hours with one stop off for breakfast.
Skegness is in Lincolnshire, which was unventured territory for me. It is by the north sea, which again is a sea I’d never seen. We were booked to stay at Butlins holiday camp, it was one of those 18-30s packages things that John had booked us on. I’m bloody glad I went, as I’m 28 now and it doesn’t look like I’ll get another chance to do an 18-30s holiday again. On the bus after I awoke, John had moved to the back and was now leading the singing as ever with Prodigy’s “Out Of Space” and DJ Otzi’s “Hey Baby Ooh Aah!” getting an airing. I was still not yet ready for the party, but as the bus approached Lincolnshire I had beer in hand and was loving it! Soon we were parked up at Skegness, given our welocme pack for the weekend, including the DO NOT LOSE GOLD WRISTBAND, our room keys, we shared on the top floor of a place near the far right (the furthest block from the sea), with two other lads from Surrey – Chris and Dan, both of whom were on our bus. We got to know them quickly and soon had decided to head into the main Butlins centre and start on the beers. I don’t remember what time it was…
Three other lads from our bus, Glenn (a West Ham fan), Terry and another Dan all from Essex joined us as we all chipped in £20 into a kitty, that made it £100 pot in the middle and we started on the beers at the main bar in Butlins, Skegness. The bar was called The Front Room, and was indoors, as outside it was cold and starting to rain. Once in there it was obvious that there were more blokes than ladies, so we quickly came up with a plan to chat up any ladies and invite them to our table. I did this, as it comes easy to me. The first two to join us were Melissa and Rachel, both blonde northerners from Rochdale. Melissa was very attractive, sadly had a boyfriend and straight away there were 7 of us who could become mates for the whole weekend. We were making friends fast and John was loving it! A few beers later and we had said we would go back to the flat to eat and chill out, but that obviously didn’t happen. There was no strict dress code, so we decided just to do a pub tour of Butlins!
There were certainly plenty of bars around. The next one was Bar Rosso, which was a round bar with a small dancefloor at the back, it was fairly packed and we danced for a while in there, before moving back to The Front Room. We met a lovely flirty English girl there called Chizelle, and I kept tryin to look up her skirt! By this stage many were in fancy dress and many were drunk. Me and Glenn started teaching each other football songs, including his West Ham songs “chu chu chu…Nigel Reo Coker” and me learning them “Away In A Manger”, a Northern Ireland song. Glenn also took a photo using his mobile phone which was up Chizelle’s skirt and he sent me it in a picture message, it was hilarious and soon we had moved on to the outside pub through the doors towards the beach. This was a much quieter and nicer pub, and it led into a strip club, which we made it into just before midnight and a performance. The girls were still with us, and we only stayed there for one beer before deciding to move back to the Front Room.
After this it really all became a blur, but we ended up in the club part upstairs near the main entrance, “Centre Stage” it was called. I remember chatting up many and various young ladies in there, getting the odd snog and settling for heading back out into the main arena for last orders, where I perched myself on my own waiting for John by the bar. At this point I got talking to two ladies, and they said “where did you go on holiday?” “Nowhere” I said, as not everyone who goes to “The Big Reunion” actually went to “The Union” to start with, and I was one of those randoms! These two ladies, whose names now strangely escape me (The mind loses information as we age…) said “We’re from Bournemouth”. “Really, I said?” showing them my AFC Bournemouth tattoo and saying “I spent 3 years living in Bournemouth and plan to go back!” They were shocked I was such a mad Bournemouth fan yet with a Northern Irish accent, and then I said my name, Jonny Blair. “Oh, that rings a bell, I’ve heard of you before” one of them said. “One of my housemates knows you”. Already intrigued I thought who is this??
It turned out to be the housemate of Natalie Johnson, what a small world! I had met Natalie Johnson in 2003, as she was the Vice President of Communications in the Students Union at Bournemouth University, she had helped with Nerve Radio, Nerve TV and she had been the voice of “Big Brother” in the university’s spoof “The Lock In” which I partook in. I actually knew her quite well and had also had a few drinks with her at events and in student bars throughout the years. She’s a gorgeous girl actually. Even just two months before Skegness, I met her again at an Apple event in Blackfriars, as I was doing PR and she was writing for a Mac magazine. Now in the sublime location of North Sea Lincolnshire, there was me and her housemate…They joked that they would leave one of my business cards on Natalie’s pillow for her one night to freak her out and then tell her that they met me! Of all the places I could have been and people I could have spoke to, it was certainly a bizarre coincidence. We got chatting, nothing more, even if I wanted sex with both of them, and Natalie…and then John came back and we thought, “it must be gone 3 am, we’ll get some sleep, a decent breakfast and get ready for the big night the next day!
Me and John were up early, the other two lads we had to waken and then we made our way to the breakfast place, where everything was included in the price so I found myself having a full fried breakfast, unlimited tea and orange juice. In there we met two girls from Chelmsford, Holly and Vicky. I chatted both up and we all agreed to go swimming together in the indoor pool in the Butlins complex. There was me, John, Glenn, both Dans, Terry and Chris, plus the two new girls. They both looked hot in their bikinis, I seemed to keep staring at their breasts that morning. I was hungover and the swim did a really good job, especially all the big water flumes and the toadstools which soak you. It was a great relaxed morning. We had a look at our timetables and agendas and decided to watch the sex show just after midday, I remember I got near the front for this.
I took a few photos of the sex show, but they didn’t come out too clearly. The girls went fully nude, they were all waxed down in the fanny region, which I don’t always like, but they writhed about on stage on top of each other and squeezing their boobs in front of a big crowd. Me and John had started on the beers, and soon there were male strippers on as well. They stopped once they got to their underpants much to the girls annoyance, but one of them slipped his willy out, which was actually banned for some reason in the venue, even though everyone was over 18 and the girls had already done nude! I had another few drinks at the back with John, before we decided we wanted to see the football matches on the TV, which were being shown in Reds.
Bournemouth were playing Bristol Rovers away and it was FA Cup weekend, so I was glued to the box in Reds from 3 pm till 6 pm. From 1-0 down, Bournemouth snatched a late draw, which kept my spirits up and kept me happy for the night. After another pint, John and I (it was just us two at this point) headed to one of the other bars in the complex, where I chatted up Amy from Newcastle. In that bar Amy had two other mates join us as well as some random girls who we chatted away to. Then in walked Glenn and Chris dressed as pimps! They had bought orange and purple pimp outfits in the meantime and were up for a real big party. The two Dans plus Terry came back soon after this and we also decided we would go and see the rock music in the other club that night, before heading to the main stage for dance floor mayhem…
There was also the part of the night where I called at Amy’s flat (well, for the weekend) and ended up watching her get changed, I quite fancied her actually and flirted with her, but she didn’t seem keen on me, as it was a one off weekend i thought she would have been up for it, but no…Anyway we partied all night and watched a band called “The Fratellis”, I remember jumping up and down distinctly to the song “Chelsea Dagger”, though at the time I had no idea of what the song was called. John was moving all over the arena that night chatting up many and various girls. He was 31 at the time and truly was having a great time. I was a mere 26 and never thought it would be my last proper piss up “teenage style” and I think in many ways it was. There was the constant drinking, the binging, the partying, the idocacy (yes, at one point I even got into a smelly bin and was pushed around the floor in it…), the flirting and the overall carnage of what happened in Skegness. We ended up in there until last orders, I remember buying a cheap VK Ice at the bar just as they were shutting.
We were back to bed within an hour, it must have been about 5 am, I’d had a few snogs during the weekend, but no use for my willy, so would start all over again on the quest for the lady. There was always the breakfast, the farewells and the long bus journey south to London…We got up early and got packed all ready to leave. We joined Chris and Dan for breakfast, munching and drinking all we could, taking advantage of the food and drink which was all included. In the cold north sea breeze of Lincolnshire, I had my last walk down towards the sea and stared out at Norway. Then we met all the girls from the previous two nights (Rachel, Melissa, Amy…) and said our emotional goodbyes. However John and I were on the same bus home as both Dans, Chris, Glenn and Terry. We finished off the last few tins of Carlsberg on that bus home as we drove through really distant Lincolnshire countryside. We passed signposts for Grimsby and Cleethorpes and I looked out in vain looking to see if I could notice Blundell Park (Grimsby Town FC) in the skyscape. But no luck.
On the bus we spoke to the simply gorgeous Fiona and her friend Louise who were excellent eye candy on a tired and weary trip home. We did stop at a motorway service station somewhere near Peterborough where I grabbed some sleazy Burger King meal and watched Salisbury play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup 2nd round. I couldn’t tell you the score or indeed what happened on the rest of the coach journey home. John and I were shattered, we said our goodbyes to our new friends, none of whom I’ve seen since (though kept in touch via text message and facebook.com). I convinced John to go for that one last pint on the way home, we picked a bar I’ll never remember at either Victoria or Charing Cross and we headed back to Dartford Kent. I got up around 6 am the next morning after 6 hours sleep. I was absolutely knackered but headed into work early via a “Benjy’s” (Yes that company that has since gone bust!) breakfast and a well needed cup of the Earl Grey. It had been a long 18 – 30s weekend and well worth doing, once in your lifetime…
When Was It? – 1st – 3rd December 2006
Where Was It? – Butlins, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England:
What Was It – The Big Reunion Weekend, meant to be for those who partied in Ibiza July – August 2006:
Who Went – Jonny Blair, John Johnson, Amy Coverdale, Dan Rankin, Chris, Glenn, Rachel Hopwood, Dan, Melissa, Charmaine, Fiona, Holly, Louise, many others…