It didn’t take long for Alice to persuade you, did it? The call of a proper night out – in bars where straight men go – was too loud to ignore. You’re single and you’re fabulous, and you’re not going to waste your time at a party full of gay men, no matter how much fun they are.

You defy the grey skies and put your tight white jeans on, with your favourite slinky blue vest. Alice too decides to dress for summer weather, in shorts (and cowboy boots, as a concession to the rain).

With vague memories of an attractive crowd and a fantastic cocktail you recommend the Proud bar. You’re hazy on the details, for you were pretty merry (it was a night out with Nita, when Charlie and Jay were watching the cricket, and you remember thinking it’d be a fun place to go if you were single). Since then you’ve heard it’s become Camden’s coolest bar. So surely that’s the perfect place for two fabulous girls like you to start your evening. Before you guys get all messy and drunken and not so much fabulous as plain good fun.

Alice is not impressed. ‘My god, look at them all. Looking as if something brilliant’s about to happen but they don’t quite know when. Or where. Idiots.’

You have to grudgingly admit she’s right. Maybe it was one of those places that looked like a good place to meet someone when you were already with someone – but the reality of actually being there on the pull is just not so appealing.

‘They’re probably all waiting to catch their dealer’s eye or something. Ho hum. Let’s neck these and go.’


‘The Hawley?’

‘Oh god, I can’t be bothered. Too full of twenty-year old star-fuckers. And it’s always rammed.’

‘When did a crowd put you off? Want somewhere we can get a seat? We could always try the bingo hall, old lady.’

‘Alright, alright. How about the Enterprise?’

‘That’s just dirty.’

You sigh in unison as you emerge onto the street. And then you turn to each other and, again in perfect unison, say, ‘The Lock!’

The Lock is a classic Camden boozer, with a roof terrace that can be hard to find a space on – but in today’s weather, you think it’s worth trying your luck. Sure enough, there’s a table of Euros – an attractive mix of Dutch boys, Italian girls, and a French character of indeterminate gender – with a corner to spare. They’ll let you share the table if you promise to teach them some English drinking games. After a couple of rounds of Thumbmaster, you start to whip their ass at Drink While You Think (insisting on celebs everyone has heard of gives you a home turf advantage).

By the time the roof terrace is closed for the night and you're herded into the upstairs bar, you’re pretty pissed.

You’re squinting at the artwork inside as you get jostled by a gang of lads who look barely legal.

‘Shite, isn’t it?’ says one, a young Bob Dylan lookalike.

‘What?’ you ask.

‘The photography. Absolute bollocks.’

‘Aye,’ says Bob Dylan’s freckly mate, ‘I could do better on a disposable camera.’

‘Who are you? The Scottish David Bailey?’ says Alice, with a giggle.

‘Better,’ says freckles, with a swagger. Alice giggles harder, if you can do giggling hard.

Over the turned up music, and Alice’s giggles, and despite his thick accent, they establish that the Scottish David Bailey is at Goldsmiths – it turns out he knows Alice’s little brother. Which makes him definitely too young for her, and his friends similarly unsuitable for you.

Still, as Alice doesn’t seem to object, you decide not to judge too harshly. You sway to the music and make idle small talk with the young Bob and his mates. They’re all full of tall tales of cool art school bands they know – the next big thing, they claim. The music’s good enough that you can spend more time with them dancing than chatting, which suits your state of mind – and level of drunkenness. When the Scot takes his freckles off to the bar, you check in with Alice.

‘Pssst, need rescuing?’

‘From Billy? No way! He’s cute.’

‘Cute? What, like a Labrador puppy?’

‘Oi! You’re just jealous.’

You snort derisively and head to the bar. Well, he might be a decade too young, but hey, if that’s what she’s after... Anything to illuminate to Alice the fact that there are other men out then than her sister’s builder. Maybe Jamie will finally get the elbow. After draining your drink you decide to leave her to it.

‘You all right getting home?’ asks Billy the kid.

You stifle a smirk at this child offering you some sort of protection.‘I’m fine, thanks. It’s only 15 minutes. I could do with it, to be honest – clear my head.’

Easily satisfied, the kid dismisses you with a smile.

‘Be safe!’ says Alice, as she kisses you goodnight.

‘You too,’ you say with a wink, as you turn away. You’ve walked home from Camden dozens of times over the years. Still, you weigh up the merits of getting the bus. You decide to walk up to the next stop, just after the kebab bars that mark the end of Camden’s main drag – if a bus comes, that’ll be fate telling you to get on it.

You’re fishing in your bag for your oyster card when this guy comes out of nowhere. ‘Give me the bag and I won’t stab you’ he growls, standing very close.

‘What?’ you say, genuinely confused. Something in his hand glints in the streetlight. You look down, and suddenly get it. Oh shit.

‘I said, if you give me the bag, I won’t stab you.’

‘Right,’ you say. You don’t need it explaining a third time. You take a deep breath. This is outrageous. You’re on a busy street. Surely he wouldn’t have the nerve?

The knife turns in his hand. ‘Come on, come on,’ he mutters.

You gulp.

Time to make a snap decision

If you give him the bag go to Chapter Four V to face the consequences

If you turn and run go to Chapter Four VI to face the consequences