"Get out of the fucking taxi so I can fight you, or I'll fucking glass you right there" shouted the irate London-accented man to my friend Neil*.
Rewind two minutes and my latest new friends Louisa and Neil had decided, after leaving it far too late to get a taxi to El Divino before their guestlist closed, that the only possible way of getting there was to jump in the front of the 40-string queue at the taxi rank at the bottom of the West End strip in San An. So, like a true sheep, I followed them as they jumped into the first taxi to arrive, resulting in 40-odd booze- and other substance-fuelled club-goers shouting angrily at us.
As we got into the taxi, my new best mate - the shouty angry, potentially violent one I introduced you to at the start of this piece - held the taxi door open on Neil's side of the car and, armed with a half-pint glass, started to try and drag him out of the car.
Now, I knew we were in the wrong - massively in the wrong in fact - and I could well understand that what we were doing deserved nothing less than being pulled out of the taxi and told under no uncertain circumstances that we were to piss off, but threatening to glass someone? To cause them life-threatening injuries? Over a taxi queue? What the hell is it that goes through peoples' minds to think that this is in any way acceptable?
So, as these threats - and the beginnings of a series of punches - were thrown back and forward between Neil and Louisa, I leant over them and tried to calm the situation down. "Whoah, whoah, STOP IT! That's enough! It's only a taxi! We'll get out - there's no need for that!" - but my placation fell of deaf ears on both sides.
Turning to the taxi driver, I was amazed to see him dumbly sitting there, an expression of bemusement on his face. As far as he was concerned, we could all get out of his taxi and kill outselves on the street. All he wanted - understandably, I guess - was for us to go away and let him earn his living.
In hindsight, my shock must have registered at some deep-rooted level, as all I could do was taphim gently on the shoulder and say "vamos, por favor - please, let's go. Just go!". Eventually, with one of the doors still open, he started to pull away slowly, and it was at this point that Angry Shouty totally lost his rag. As we pulled away, he stood up. I thought it was all over and we'd made it out of trouble intact, albeit with our tails thoroughly between out legs but, no, there was still one final act to be played out.
As I turned my head to look forward and thank the driver, I heard a noise like a car door being slammed hard. Everything went black and then I saw an explosion of stars in my right eye. Suddenly the whole side of my face was numb, and I could feel a stream of how, sticky wetness spreading all over my lap. Instinctively I caught the half pint glass - miraculously unshattered - as it landed in my increasingly bloody lap.
I had no idea how much damage had been done, but the most important thing on my mind at the moment was that the taxi driver was SLOWING DOWN! "VAMOS!" I shouted - well, spluttered. I was vaguely aware of the spray of blood going all over the car's plush new light grey leather upholstery, and as my hearing returned I could hear Louisa saying "let me look at your face. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my...". She was panicking big time, and - something you should never do with an accident victim because it only makes them panic more.
Still without any feeling in my face, I looked down to see my trousers, t-shirt, the back of the driver's seat, the door, ceiling (how I don't know), window glass and my arms pouring blood. Now, I know that blood and milk can both look like a lot more has been spilt than actually has, but within about 15 seconds my lap looked like it had been painted a dark crimson. Yuk.
"I'm sorry folks. I think we're going to need to go to the hospital" I managed, and started to probe around my face. One of my top front teeth - the right one - was completely numb. The cartilage of my nose hurt like buggery where it joins my skull at the top of my lip, and my top left front tooth had a large crack running up its back. All of my top right teeth were either numb or hurting like hell, and - worst of all, I could feel two large gashes in my top lip, big enough to push my tongue into. I also had the worst migraine I've ever had coming on.
By the time we arrived at San An hospital, the bleeding was subsiding. The taxi driver kindly gave me a tissue to put over the holes in my lip, and all I could do was apologise repeatedly for all the blood on his car - his reply? "It's ok, don't worry".
To add insult to injury, my EHIC card - the mandatory E111 you're supposed to keep on you at all times - was safely tucked away in my apartment, so the hospital refused to treat me, despite nearly blacking out twice in the waiting room so, with my broken Spanglish and the night nurse's broken English, we established that I was going to have to head home and get my card. By this time I was getting the feeling back in my lip, and I made the mistake of trying to flush the blood out of my mouth with water. That was the point that I realised that I didn't have two separate cuts on my lip - it was in fact an entry and exit wound, where my top tooth had gone clean through my lip - but I only realised when I tried to wash my mouth out with water and it sprayed out of the hole in my lip. The pain was like nothing I'd ever experienced, but worse was yet to come...
Back at the apartment, having had to walk through San An covered in blood and looking like a train wreck, I cleaned up the wound with some vodka and water, and examined the damage. The entry wound was faily straightforward, and had stopped bleeding. Just a hold about half a centimetre wide, but the exit wound was a different story (gory details ahead, kids): my lip was torn in three different directions, and the swelling had pushed the edges of the cut right out, distorting my lip into a gruesome mess. Yes, it was "only" a cut, but the damage looked so severe that I began to really worry that there might be some long-term damage.
A quick change of clothes later, one much cleaner face, and I was back at the hospital where the night doctor - with the use of Google's translation service (Google is bloody everywhere these days, isn't it?!) - decided that my migraine was nothing important (yeah, bloody cheers mate), my teeth were fine (despite the numbness, crack and throbbing pain), and that I needed A stitch in my throbbingly-painful lip.
Oh, and they weren't going to give me a local anaesthetic. Bloody cheers.
Ten minutes later and I'm lying on the couch in the next ER room, with an old boy tugging and prodding a stitching blade through my torn lip. I've never felt pain like that before and, I'm not ashamed to admit, I had tears streaming down my face.
You can probably imagine then, like a prisoner being subjected to torture, that I nearly died of fear when the old boy decided that one stitch wasn't enough, and that he was going to give me a second one. This one hurt even more that the first, and to add insult to injury, he then had a good old prod to realign the edges of the cut into something resembling the shape of a lip again.
Still, despite the pain, I thanked him for his efforts as I woozily made my way out of the hospital, obsessively feeling my new stitches with my tongue (something which I continued to do without even realising for the next couple of days, making me look like a gurning freak even at ten in the morning, hee hee).
I have no idea what it is that makes people think they're somehow invincible, above the law, and/or that it's perfectly acceptable to act like deranged animals on holiday, but it's something I have seen an awful lot of while I've been living and working in Ibiza: holiday makes, more often than not British, being incredibly rude, starting fights, being unbelievably racist - listening to a Bromley wide-boy describing a Spanish club-goer at Space as a "dirty spick" who he could "easily take [beat in a fight]" just because he was "standing next to me, innit. I want my own room - I've paid to be here". Err, yeah, right mate. Has it maybe not crossed your mind that he has far more right to be here and enjoy the place, given that this is his country you're besmirching?
The levels of violent crime in San An - particularly robbings, knifings, and (thankfully usually with less human injury involved) burglaries, is scary, and much more noticeably towards the end of the season as the income streams dry up and the more desperate will resort to robbing their friends, employers, or people in the street in broad daylight.
All of this said, I don't want to put anyone off visiting Ibiza. It really is a fantastic place, and everywhere in the world has its problems, but like any town centre on a Friday or Saturday night, the combination of alcohol, drugs, testosterone and venues packed so full you can't move, is an explosive combination. The responsibility here is on none other than the licencees of venues, and those that oversee the smooth running of the streets - the police - to ensure things don't get out of hand. The police in Spain are much more capable of dealing with problems, as anyone who's been on the fast-moving end of a police baton will know, as the polica local and, to a lesser extend, the guardia civil, have no hesitation in kicking ten bells out of anyone who thinks it's a good idea to get lippy with them.
Obviously back in the UK, the police's obligation to adhere rigidly to the EU's interpretation of the human rights laws means that, unless you're waving a loaded gun around - and even then, it's not a guaranteed excuse to do so - they can barely ever use any kind of force to calm down violent people. It's a rock-and-hard place conundrum, but given the comparative levels of trouble in Ibiza, I sometimes wonder whether the Spanish police might have got it right.
Mind you, I don't know if I'd be saying that if I had ever received a kicking from them myself, but then I hope I never will, either...
Life in Ibiza continues, and talking of crime, I've got a great tale about the two girls who tried to rob me in Privilege last night, but I'll save that for another day I think... ;o)
* Names changed to protect the guilty...