‘Right, it’s my round ladies, what are we all having?’ I asked above the racket in the pub.
‘The usual please babe,’ they all screeched smiling at the thought of more drinks.
We were at our usual weekend haunt, The Good Measure pub, in Caldicot, Monmouthshire, Wales.
I was out with a mix of family and friends, a few had gone home already so it was just, my aunt, Bernie, 59, and my mate, Jackie, 50, and I still standing.
After a few more rounds the girls decided to call it a night.
‘Stay for a few more, the night is young!’ I begged them.
‘It’s midnight, way past my bedtime misses,’ Jackie told me, as she walked off in the direction of home, blowing kisses until she was finally out of sight.
Still determined to have a good night I saw a few mates from school at another table and went for a catch-up with them.
Despite the fact I don’t usually smoke, I’d bought a packet for that night out as after a few drinks a cigarette could sometimes take my fancy.
‘Just popping outside, see you in a bit,’ I told my school mate before weaving my way through the sea of people in the busy bar, to the smoking area.
I saw a local guy whose girlfriend, Samantha Phipps, 35, was a pal of mine and unable to find my own, asked him for a lighter.
But before I could even get the cigarette out of my bag, I saw a figure launch herself at me with fists raised.
The punches came thick and fast.
‘You’re my friend, you’re my friend, you’re my friend,’ she kept repeating as she hit me.
Despite the pain, I managed to get a glance at her face…. it was my pal, Samantha – the girlfriend of the man I’d asked for a lighter.
After what felt like hours but was probably minutes – a few blokes nearby dragged her off me.
The rest was a blur and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a dingy dark room with my friend, Jodie, 29, leaning over me .
‘Oh thank goodness you’re OK, she knocked you unconscious, I rushed right over when I heard,’ she blurted, looking worried.
I managed to sit up and sip some water, weirdly, I didn’t feel too bad considering the damage she’d done to my face, which after one glance in the mirror was already getting pretty swollen.
‘We’ve called an ambulance, it’s outside,’ the bar manager said, ready to help me up.
”No I feel OK, I just want to go home,” I replied.
Although they tried to insist, I refused to get in the ambulance.
Jodie helped me get home and I fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning my phone had hundreds of notifications on social media from my worried friends and people who had heard about the attack.
I suddenly felt really angry for what Samantha had done to me- I had no idea what had gotten into her.
After staggering into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I noticed in the mirror that my face was black and blue.
‘I’m calling the police,’ I told my mum, Liz, 69, and dad, Frank, 75, over breakfast.
‘Good idea, we’re here for you,’ they chimed, kindly scooping the last of the bacon onto my toast.
The police were fabulous and came over that afternoon to take my statement.
‘We promise we’ll investigate this to the best of our ability,’ the officer said as she left.
Despite their reassurances I didn’t feel safe at all and over the next few weeks I struggled to leave the house.
I’d heard no news about the investigation into the attack despite repeatedly ringing the police for an update.
‘Right missy, no more sulking about the house, we are going out!’ Jackie instructed down the phone one Saturday night, three weeks later.
‘I’m not sure, I don’t think I’m up to it really,’ I said sadly, picking at my nails.
But after five minutes Jackie had more than persuaded me into a few drinks and we arranged to meet at mine that evening.
By 6.30pm we were all sat around in the garden, the balmy wind rushing around the bushes, ice cubes clinking in our vodka lemonades, all chatting about where to head to later on.
‘Well The Good Measure is probably the best place but I know you’re probably a bit sick of it there!’ my cousin, Georgia, 22, joked.
‘No, you know what, let’s go there, it’s our favourite after all and I’m not going to be scared into staying inside for one more night,’ I said boldly.
We ended up having a fab night in the pub and after a change of scene a group of us decided to move on to another place, The Fella, 10 minutes walk from where we were.
We ambled along the road, laughing and chatting away.
‘Thanks for making me come out tonight!’ I told Jackie as we crossed the road, just five minutes from the next pub.
Just as she began to reply a car screeched into a nearby driveway.
It took me a few seconds to recognise that Samantha was one of the inhabitants of the vehicle.
Before I had time to react she sprinted over to my group and punched me in the face.
Falling to the floor I felt the blood begin to pour from my nose and heard the crack of delicate facial bones.
‘Get off, I’ve done nothing wrong,’ I tried to cry out as she rained blows down on my head.
Finally I felt myself being dragged down the road.
Through my disorientation I realised it was a local lad called, Matthew, who’d saved me.
‘Thank you,’ I croaked before collapsing down again.
The ambulance journey was a blur as I was only half conscious, but we quickly arrived at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Wales.
Over the next few hours I was taken in for scans and tests.
They decided to keep me in overnight as I was being sick and couldn’t even hold a sip of water down.
Thankfully Jackie stayed with me throughout the whole ordeal.
‘It must be concussion, you poor thing,’ she said, rubbing my back.
‘I just can’t believe it,’ I kept saying over and over again.
At some point during the morning the police popped their head around my curtain.
‘We just wanted to let you know that we’ve arrested the suspect and will be keeping you up to date with the legal process,’ the officer told me before waving goodbye.
After that I had another visitor – this time a doctor who confirmed that my nose and eye socket were both broken.
I was shocked.
‘She must have really wanted to hurt me,’ I thought to myself, freaked out.
Despite my face being smashed to bits I was released the next day as there was no more treatment I could have and I’d finally stopped vomiting.
‘They just have to heal naturally unfortunately, and don’t blow your nose!’ the nurse said as I was leaving.
The next few weeks were really hard.
I felt terrified to leave the house alone and was constantly on edge.
We did get some good news via a letter from the police which informed me that Samantha had been officially charged and after denying the charges would face a court trial.
‘It’s just ridiculous that she’d deny it all, there were two attacks with lots of witnesses,’ I fumed.
I was also secretly scared I’d have to give evidence in a courtroom full of people.
But thankfully Samantha came to her senses and decided to plead guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in January 2019.
The judge in the case, held at Newport Crown Court, said the injury pictures were ‘horrifying” and he jailed Phipps for nine months, suspended for 18 months.
She was also ordered to carry out a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and a restraining order was imposed.
I was so glad that she admitted the attacks but, after all she’d put me through, I was really disappointed in her escaping jail.
I’m a shadow of the person I was before, I used to feel so confident and free walking around my hometown but these days I’m constantly on high alert.
The doctors have even had to put me on medication to keep me from feeling too anxious about it all.
Thankfully I have a fantastic group of friends and family who keep me happy and sane.
I think we’ll find a new pub to drink in though, it’s about time!