Mrs PM and I have made what could be a big mistake.
Every year our respective companies organise a Christmas party. Last year, they were a week apart. Unfortunately, this year they are within a day of each other. When the dates for each event were specified, my immediate thought was:
“Oh no! Two parties in on consecutive days – we have to miss one of them.”
Mrs PM’s reaction was:
“Don’t be such a wuss! We’ll go to BOTH!”
This coming Friday, my company is heading off to Old Trafford, the stadium were Manchester United play, to partake in an event called “One Night In Bangkok”, which takes place in a huge marquee in the car park next to the ground.
Mrs PM’s mob are heading off to Liverpool to the “Hard Days Night Hotel”, which, as you can probably guess, pays homage to the Beatles. The date? Saturday night; and because it is in Liverpool, we have to drive over there and stay the night.
So the question is, am I wuss or not?
Well, the truth is that in my 20s and 30s I probably would have relished the opportunity. Sadly, my ageing body now refuses to acknowledge the capacity for ale I enjoyed in my youth. I now suffer from “the two day hangover”.
I would guess that a few readers who stumble across the drivel I write aren’t familiar with the sensation of consuming alcohol and the after effects of the debauchery that ensues when one imbibes too much. For those readers, allow me to illustrate how a night out at a typical works Christmas party may pan out.
At approximately 5:30 (two hours before the party starts), I vow not to overdo it. I recall last years embarrassment – actually, that’s not actually true. The photographs jog my memory and the merciless mocking from my workmates etches the unfortunate events in into my brain.
I tell Mrs PM that I will not drink too much. She laughs and says “You said that last year. We’ll see.”
The taxi arrives at 7pm and off we go. The conversation goes something like this:
Mrs PM: I LOVE Christmas. I LOVE Christmas parties.
Me: I am definitely not drinking too much tonight.
Mrs PM: Must we go through this again? Remember last year? Remember the free red wine? Remember Neil making sure that we were on a table with at least four non-drinkers so that we could have MORE free wine?
Me: Yes – but I will definitely NOT overdo it.
We arrive at the party and within seconds one of my mates has thrust a pint of finest bitter into my hands with a “Get THAT down you!”
The pint is quite refreshing and it’s not long before hints are being dropped: “Get the beer in then, Dave!”
Off I go to the bar and, as I order the beer, I repeat the mantra in my brain: “Must not overdo it! MUST NOT OVERDO IT!”
A few moments later we arrive at our table; waiting for us are ten bottles of wine. I look around and see that there are six drinkers and four non-drinkers. Oh no – not again!
Time passes and the people on our table fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere. I am forced (by Mrs PM) to wear a silly hat that looks even more ridiculous with my incredibly bad hair. People blow up party balloons and fire them off at targets (usually managers) with a huge loud “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”. A plastic frog lands in my glass of red wine (how many have I had now?). I pull a cracker with Mrs PM and she wins the prize (again)! As a forfeit I have to read out the terrible joke:
What's big, grey and wears glass slippers? Cinderelephant.
I try to recall how much wine I have had but my brain feels like it is mutating into a giant marshmallow. I look at my glass of wine and it is full. Did I fill it or was it somebody else? Have I had any at all? Maybe one glass, possibly two?
The main course appears and we all dig into our first turkey of the Christmas period (at the end of Christmas we will all transform into turkeys I’m sure of it. Apart from vegetarians who will probably become stuffed peppers).
I take a sip of red wine. And another. And another.
At some point, the beer takes its toll and I have to go to the toilet. As I am walking, I start to work out how much I have had. One glass of wine and two pints. Or is it two glasses of wine and three pints? Alarm bells start to ring. Have I had too much already? In the toilet, I stare at myself in the mirror and then start a conversation with my reflection:
Me: How much have you had? And why don’t you take off that stupid hat?
Reflection: Well you can focus on me and you have definitely made it to the toilet without falling over or wobbling. You’re OK!
A man walks out of a trap and stares at me as if I am a complete idiot.
Back at the table, dessert has arrived. Christmas bloody pudding covered in brandy sauce – a dessert concocted in the bowels of Hades.
“Not Christmas Pudding again. I’m sure I ordered mince pie!”
“I LOVE Christmas pudding,” says Mrs PM. “And this is the first of many portions for you this year!”
Reluctantly and stupidly I eat my Christmas Pudding. It is like eating tar!
My mouth is glued shut and my jaws ache trying to chew this disgusting stodge. I need some liquid – lots of liquid. What’s that? A FULL glass of red wine? I could have sworn that it was almost empty. Oh well!
The wine does the job and dissolves the tar.
The DJ, a man who has eaten two days worth of happy pills, announces that the entertainment is about to begin.
“Ladies and gentlemen! It’s time for the PARTY TO BEGIN! Let’s start with that old party classic – YMCA!”
Oh no! I frantically look around as the cold hand of fear clutches my soul. And there she is, making her way across the huge room towards me. I hear the words:
“COME ON DAVE! IT’S TRADITIONAL!”
Cazzy is coming to drag me onto the dance floor for our annual YMCA dance (maybe I will tell you the story of why this is traditional one day). I try to hide under the table but before I know it, I am being pulled by a determined woman towards the flashing lights of the dance floor. I am clutching a glass of wine and drink it to ease my forthcoming humiliation. And there’s nobody on the dance floor – it will just be me and Cazzy – AGAIN!
Behind me, my workmates leap up armed with cameras, to record the event and once more I find myself singing and dancing and posing for photos.
Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.
Young man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.
It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
Suddenly I realise that I’m enjoying myself. I don’t know why I hide from Cazzy every year! With YMCA still ringing in my ears, and now with a few colleagues dancing away with us, we listen to all the Christmas songs from Wizzard, Slade, Band Aid etc. that are dusted off every year.
I am hot now and need to cool down. I return to my table and find a pint of beer there. Good! I’ve had enough of red wine. Oh – there’s a glass of red wine next to it and it’s full – and it’s mine.
“MUST NOT OVERDO IT! MUST NOT OVERDO IT! OH SOD IT!!!”
The remainder of the evening becomes a blur. Many photos are taken of me eating mince pie while doing the Macarena; I am videoed singing “Man I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain, my jacket and tie are off and I am bounding up to the dance floor for every cheesy pop song that I despise.
At the end of the night I am in a taxi, convinced that I am as sober as a judge. At home I rest my weary head on my pillow and catch the train to Dreamland. The slight buzzing sensation in my head is nothing to worry about.
The next morning I open my eyes and realise that I am being beaten up. My head is pounding. I can’t see the assailant at all and I wonder why the invisible man is trying to hammer nails into my skull.
And then it starts to come back. The mantra “mustn’t overdo it” is a distant memory. I close my eyes again but the beating doesn’t go away. My tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth by the remains of Christmas Pudding (something that could be used to surface motorways).
I am desperately thirsty and pluck up the courage to go downstairs for much needed water. I see my suit cast to the four winds – didn’t I hang it up last night?
I struggle downstairs, my head pounding like a pneumatic drill.
Mrs PM is in the kitchen as fresh as a daisy.
“You look like shit,” she laughs. “You overdid it, didn’t you?”
“Why are you so fresh?” I ask.
“I took it easy,” she replies.
I look at my reflection in the mirror. My hair is sticking up in every conceivable direction; my eyes are bloodshot; my tongue looks and feels like a carpet in a demolished house; the bags under my eyes are so big you could pack a turkey in each.
As I sip from a glass of ice cold water, Mrs PM reminds me of what occurred the night before. I start to cringe as I recall dancing like a demented gorilla to songs like “The Birdy Song”. Once more there is video evidence of me pretending to be a Kevin Rowland and belting out an awful version of “Come On Eileen”.
Mrs PM reminds me that I fell over during “New York, New York”. Apparently there’s a photo of me sitting on the floor like a complete arse and grinning inanely.
But thankfully, Mrs PM reminds me of other people; the man who was sent to bed in the hotel for being too drunk; another who did a break dance with his tie wrapped around his head like Rambo; others who spilled red wine down their pristine white shirts;
I’m thankful that I only fell over once. I’m grateful that I didn’t insult anybody.
So, this year, I really DO have to take it easy. Last year, my hangover was bearable but lasted two whole days – the first day recovering from the after effects of over-indulgence (headaches, indigestion etc.), the second day due to lack of sleep from the first night.
I will report on this busy weekend sometime next week.
And I must remember the mantra – I MUST NOT OVERDO IT!