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4 June 2015

Bleeding, concussed, drunk and standing at the sink in our knickers, we were having a marvellous time

I was sort of fine, though every time I heard Greek tinkly music I would cry. Concussion is a strange thing.

By Suzanne Moore

There must be a law somewhere that says all stupid young people on their travels will hire motorbikes and crash them. I had neither a helmet nor sense when I rented one in Greece. As soon as I got on the damn thing, I knew what was going to happen.

As I was going into a corner, instead of slowing, I put my foot down. I came to saying: “My legs, my legs.” My legs didn’t actually hurt much but I remembered my brother’s many stories of being trapped under bikes.

Looking up, I found I was surrounded by those Greek women who dress all in black the minute they get the chance. They were crossing themselves. I wondered if I was actually dead but then I thought if I was dead, surely someone in heaven or hell would be speaking English.

Then, somehow, I was in hospital. (At least I think it was a hospital.) Mostly my head hurt but the staff were using tweezers to pick out bits of my dress that the gravel had burned into my legs. The man doing it had a fag on the go with two inches of ash about to drop into my wounds.

“You’ll be fine. Just don’t look,” said my friend and then passed out.

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I was sort of fine, though every time I heard Greek tinkly music I would cry. Concussion is a strange thing.

The men in the shop where we’d hired the bikes would not give us back our passports and said that we had to pay. So, still dazed and confused, I was made by my friend to sit outside the shop every day with my injuries on full display, half of my swollen, bloody face covered in purple iodine, in order to blackmail them. Potential customers would gasp in horror when they saw me, so we successfully destroyed their business in about three days.

When the angry Greeks gave us our passports back we set off for Athens, where we went out every night, knocking back ouzo. Men in bars would look at me from the side, then I would turn, now with a closed black eye and yellow bruising underneath the purple stuff. They would buy me more drinks and say I had spirit.

But I was not quite myself and I woke up one night asking my friend for water. She got me some. After I drank she took a swig herself, then spat it out and put the light on, screaming. Blood from my nose had poured into the water.

She took me outside to the communal sink to try to clean me up. Drunk, concussed, scarred, bleeding, we stood there in our T-shirts and knickers and agreed that we were having a marvellous time. The owner of the hostel saw us.

The next day, he took me to one side. I thought he would chuck us out.

“You,” he said, “I like you. I like women who fight. You can stay here for free.”

There really is no accounting for taste. 

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