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Lad’s Night

Lad’s Night
Home after "A few ales"

Living for the Weekend

Its 1767 and William Hickey is 18. He has left boarding school in the village of Streatham and is now in training to be a lawyer.

During the exciting and productive year he has spent in the city of London, Hickey has become proficient at Billiards, frequenting tables at Windmill st, Whitehall, The Admiralty, The Angel, the back of St Clements and Chancery Lane. Despite being left handed he has also learned to use a sword, although if he ever fights a duel he will almost certainly lose within seconds.

His father despairs of his behavior, which he considers both “Idle” and “Dissipated

Sometimes he stays out on the town all night, goes straight to work and sleeps at his desk. His superior, Mr Bayley, wakes him up in the morning and as he lifts his drooling head from the ink stained wood, Hickey can feel the force of his disapproval.

“Indeed William these are sad doings and God only knows to what a life of such excess will lead you”  Mr Bayley 

 Hickey is a “Roaring Boy” and he enjoys a good night out.

Along with a group of like minded young men, he usually begins an evening with dinner at Slaughter’s in St Martin’s Lane. They meet in a private room as they find the company of the establishments more mature dinners too boring.

The High Life The High Life

“Stupid, formal, ancient prigs, horrid periwig bores, every way unfit to herd with such bloods as us”  Hickey

 

Then they move on a couple of brothels on Bow Street, Covent Garden.

One of these is run by a Mrs Cocksedge and is situated next to the offices of the famous blind magistrate Sir John Fielding.

Sir Henry Fielding "Whats going on? it sounds like they're fucking next door" Sir Henry Fielding “Whats going on? it sounds like they’re fucking next door”

 

 

Hickey says Fielding must be deaf as well as blind not to know what is going on next door, which always gets a laugh.

Sitting in the salon, waiting for a girl to become available, Hickey only sips from the bowls of powerful arrack punch offered to him. As fun as it is being drunk , he wisely doesn’t want to be incapable of enjoying his favourite pastime.

Hickey likes the ladies.

On this particular evening however Hickey has not been seen on the town for a while. He has been in bed for three weeks with fever following a night out during which he got so pissed he stole a boat, rowed across the Thames, fell into every pothole and rubbish tip in Westminster and passed out in the street in front of his father’s wealthy friends.

Upon his recovery he has spent two months as the very picture of sobriety and restraint and thinks himself morally strong enough to return to Slaughters, reacquaint himself with his old friends and not fall back into dissolute ways.

By eleven o clock he’s hammered and the gang are off to Bow Street.

Someone suggests a new place of entertainment called Wetherby’s which is down the narrow end of Little Russell Street, Dury Lane.

The door looks like the entrance to a prison, stout wood, reinforced by iron bars. Somebody rings the bell and a little spy hole slides open. A pair of piggy eyes stars out malevolently and a coarse voice snarls “Who’s there?” A bold fellow announces “Friends” and several bolts are drawn back before the door is opened.

One by one the tipsy gentlemen file in, Hickey at the rear. As he enters, the door slams shut behind him and the doorman (who looks like an ox in a neckcloth) is bolting it again securely.

Even Hickeys ardour is dampened by what he sees in front of him. The room is in uproar, with men and women standing on chairs, tables and benches. They are shouting encouragement to two wild haired scraggy looking harlots who are rolling around on the beer stained floor intent on tearing the other’s throats out.

They are covered in bleeding scratches and shrieking obscenities at each other that would offend the ears of a  bosuns’s mate.

Hickey notices that both are bare breasted but his breeches remain unmoved.

He will later make the acquaintance of one of these ladies, a Miss Burgess who turns out to be very nice (although you wouldn’t want to wind her up after a few gins).

Such is the revulsion on his face, as he stumbles back towards the door; several people tell him not to worry because it’s always like this.

Fight Club Fight Club

He tears his eyes away only to find himself looking at a man who is getting attacked by three women at the same time.

Without a hint of gallantry the man punches each woman to the floor but they leap back up and rain him with blows and vicious kicks.

 

Some of the laughing men watching are sneakily hitting him with their heavy sticks when he isn’t looking and the bully eventually disappears under a flurry of blows from all sides.

Hickey decides he’s had enough and runs to the exit. He’s struggling frantically with the latch when he is grabbed by the collar and thrust against a wall. The doorman thinks he is trying to do a runner without paying and is far from happy

“I think you came in not long since and with a party. What! Do you want to tip us a bilk?. Have you paid your reckoning eh? No, no youngster no tricks upon travelers,  No exit here until you have passed muster, my chick”

With a groan of despair he returns to the carnage of the taproom, the doorman who is proud of his deductive abilities following behind.

“ So the young ‘un there wanted to be off, but I said as how I knew a trick worth two of that, too much experience to be taken in by such a sucker, told him not to expect to catch old birds with chaff, didn’t I young un hey?”

A picture of misery, Hickey remains at Wetherby’s until his friends wish to leave, the more miserable he becomes the more they laugh at him

His relief when they do finally walk out is short lived as, laughing even harder, they take him to a place called Murphy’s’ which is just as bad.

He vows never to return to Wetherby’s again.

A month later of course, he’s back.

 

 

 

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