In fall of 1974 I am off to England with my family to spend the year as part of the Fulbright Exchange appointment to teach in a southern England comprehensive school. (I still correspond with friends met there nearly half a century ago.) On weekends we have a wonderful time visiting castles, cathedrals, and on longer breaks, touring the continent. One day, my good friend Andy, the physical education instructor at our school, ah no doubt hoping to “enrich” my English experience, invites me to The Portsmouth Rugby Football’s Annual end-of-the-season Dinner at Rugby Camp, in Hilsea.
We enter a large hall and sit at tables at right angle to the speaker’s podium. At every seat are two bottles of wine, one red, one white. Cigars are lit. The room fills with smoke and loud conversations. Dinner starts with speeches by the head of the organization, and other dignitaries.
After dinner, a number of awards are presented which now must be yelled out over a chorus of cheers, boos, and laughter. I duck as a cork whistles by careening off the head of a lad a few seats away. More corks fly. A deluge of flying missiles follows. The fusillade continues as a mate with a stainless-steel bedpan full of beer, surrounded by a small legion, unsteadily balances on top of a table. To rousing cheers of support, he valiantly chug-a-lugs the contents, but in tipping the pan to extract the last drops, keels over taking several lads with him on the way to hitting the floor with a thunderous crash – amidst more cheers and laughter. Undeterred, the party roars on.
Somewhere in the wee hours of morning we pile into Andy’s station wagon. Allan is sicker-‘n-a-dog, and Andy torments him by saying we should stop for some spicy, hot curry, the last thing he needs in his convulsing stomach. He warns us that he is about to throw up. We stop at the side of the road and get out. While he is puking, we are pissing.
We finally pull up to his house, get him between us, grab an arm around our necks and walk/drag him to the front door, plant one hand on either side of the door jam, ring the door bell and get the hell out of there as fast as we can. I glance back to see Allan’s wife open the door. She is breathing fire and brimstone! Poor Allan. He is about to be s-k-i-n-n-ed a-l-i-v-e!
Ray Marik – Fulbright to England 1974
This story is an excerpt from: The Story of my Life – Ray Marik – Volume I of V