Wednesday, 17 November 2010
The Party Season
My diary is filling up.
I always think I'll have a quiet November, because December is going to be a "busy one". Already December's evenings leave me little option but to back-peddle on such a rash statement, and now November is a flurry and whirl of exciting prospects and possibilities.
I'm not much fussed on the day itself; Christmas. I am lousy with nephews and nieces, and am all too aware that the proposed 'excitment on children's faces' is a thing of the past. Hours poring over potential gifts in shops bear nothing but disappointment, as beautifully tasteful paper is ripped to reveal "A book? ... Is that it?". It's a Roald Dahl Collectors Edition signed by Quentin Blake, you snivelling sprogladite!
I don't even care about receiving presents myself. The Ex would announce in March that we should set a budget for this year, nominally based around the type of gift he was expecting to receive. I was then sent constant "Wish List" updates and had hints dropped throughout September and October that not much seemed to have been bought from it. And, of course, I was never specific enough, refusing to adhere to such a mercenary practice as wishlisting, the tree was laden with items that I had inadvertantly 'hinted at'. Moaning about pocket fulls of change brought me a pound-coin holder. In escence, aside from a mildly superior Sunday lunch, and the possibility of a Royle Family special, I can take it or leave it.
But the weeks before, the run-up, is a most glorious time. As Autumn gives way to the deepest Midwinter, my reliance on natural daylight is replaced by sparkle and shine. I become obsessed by twinkly things. The beautifully decorated windows and the streets and trees ribboned with magical fairy lights, the gaggles of drunken girls festooned in every last sequin in the western world..
It's a time to huddle in the warmth of friends at every opportunity, to sit in the sumptious interiors of dimly lit bars, with log fires and reflective tinsel, like a christmas glitterball. A time to sip whisky, and Amaretto, and champagne cocktails. It's a time for Bailey's. You may argue that your entire year consists of these things, but they only ever feel right for me at Christmas.
I am blessed with many different groups of friends and they are at their most reliably predictable at Christmas. The legal secretaries (The "Penis Fly Traps") will take me to one of those 'after work' places in the city, where they will be drunk in half an hour, and canoodleing with young men from banking establishments, professing undying love before the evening is out, and then hungoverly deleting their Facebook profiles the very next day.
The old friends, the marrieds, the friends with kids will have "evenings". Unable to find a babysitter, or manage to convince the eldest teen to do it again (why should she? she has friends, and partys and Christmasses of her own to attend), I will be invited into the loving bosom. Some will force feed me massive pre-Christmas Christmas dinners in their Victorian conversion, others will endeavour to be refined with evenings of canapes and cocktails, that start well and end in a disgusting heap of pot-bellied dissarray and hilarious retro dancing.
I will attend the many, many works functions: the department event, the Company event, the Fifth Floor event, the Colombian Cleaners' Carol Concert.. There seems no end to the excuses people will conjur around Christmas in order to host "an event". Yeah, they're a strange disparate lot, who moan about the food and assume I always know where the toilets are, and for most of the year they're an irritating assembly of idiots, but they're my idiots and their mere willingness to gather together and have fun cannot be surpassed.
Finally, The boys, my boys, will be out 'in town' at every opportunity. I haven't "Social Networked" as much in my life as I have this year, and it isn't hard to go to any bar or club, or pub in Central London without seeing a friendly familiar face, wanting to chat, to laugh, to celebrate. You know who you are. You've made this year.
And I know that for a lot of people this can be a very unhappy time. We get reflective and it can be depressing to think that another year has rolled around, that we're no different to the person we were at the beginning - we had such high hopes. Don't worry, another one will be here in a few weeks. Time to try it all over again. In the meantime, if you find yourself at a loose end, if your festive calendar is looking a bit midwinterly bleak, drop me a line, give me a call, come out with me because my diary is filling up!