I'm wheezing like a geriatric, walking up what feels like Everest. I just stare down at the cobble stones and try to forget the hangover that threatens to send me tumbling back the way I came. The aptly-named Steep Hill is the last thing I wanted to tackle today, especially alone with a DVX camcorder and tripod getting me down.
Well, I say alone - I've been left to it with my heavy equipment by my pal, Nick, who's too 'busy' in his perusal of the antiqual boutiques and restaurants. His flamboyance makes him forget his manners sometimes, but that's what makes him fun to have around.
As usual, I say 'fucking this' and 'fucking that' too much and tweed smiles of Lincoln's better half drop as they silently judge the invading hoodie. I'm hardly wearing trackie-bottoms tucked in socks, but I wouldn't expect them to know that: they can barely see beyond the high street.
I haven't even got a story in mind, yet. Coming up to the Cathedral Quarter seemed a little more original than joining the swarm of my peers on the Brayford fighting for scraps: "Look, there's a swan with a limp! Do you think we could go with that from an emotive angle?"
So, I thought I'd try my luck up top. But, the sweat's getting in my eyes now. Nonconformism is the bane of my life.
We get into the main square and I hang my head for a moment.
"Eh! Hari's over there! Come on, you pussy."
I look up and the girls are sitting outside the pub, sangria in hands. Why that seems appropriate on a windy day in March, I don't know. Then again, it's not exactly conventional someone to be in this much turmoil as I am, on a Monday afternoon.
"Sam's inside," Hari taunts, "We were just about to ring you, but you really look like you don't need to be here."
Sam clearly has other ideas as I see him come out the doors with two pints and a jack and sambuca.
"'Saw you through the window, you looked like you could use these," he laughs in the same pitying way as Hari, "Hair of the dog and all that."
I've only known him six months, but already Sam's like my brother. He knows I'd never turn down a drink with him, regardless of how many we put away together only the night before. Naturally, the shot goes down the hatch first. I wince and gulp, but apparently it's going to stay down. Listening to my friends chatter and sipping on the pint of Stella, I look out into the square absent-mindedly. Never so much in my whole life have I wanted a story to come to me.
Moments later I spot potential aggravation. A van has got jammed in a turn down one of the quarters narrow roads, much to the following driver's annoyance. After slamming his horn a dozen times, he struts over to give his worth to the van-man. Both out of their vehicles now, the angst is almost at breaking point, after some harsh words lead to the them standing toe-to-toe, fingers jabbing each others chests.
Two things spring to my mind at that point: how quickly can I get this camera set up and will it appear ethical filming someone getting their head busted? Probably not for the latter, but it's here on a plate and crime sells news copies. Damn. As I'm trying to make my mind up, one of them storms back to their car looking like a man whose balls have shrunk at some point in the exchange of threats. Every now and then you come across someone you realise you shouldn't have fucked with. He throws back a rushed "prick" in consolation.
I sigh. I find it funny how nowadays I look for these kinds of moments to erupt. Always on the lookout for a bit of action to report and shaking people down for valuable information, in journalist mode. I like it in a way. It makes my life feel like a sort of film noir.
As I drain the last of my drink, it's a welcome surprise to me that I feel slightly healthier. I'm not sure whether the irony of that is more amusing or worrying. I see Sam finishing his fourth in the time it has taken my current fragility to let me take down one. He's obviously starting to get a buzz on and I know it won't be long before he gives me that look that says, "Things are going to get heavy tonight. And you know you're coming with."
I'm starting to contemplate taking the easy way out. I could just go and get a few shots the cathedral and put a creative spin on whatever the latest news post on their website is. Still, I hate being predictable. I may be last-minute, but I'm an egotist and like my work being recognised for some unique talent or other. Battling with my conscience rarely goes well.
"Fancy another shot, mate?"
"Huh, what?" I look up at Sam, "Errr...Yeah. Yeah, go on then..."