I was drunk on New Year's Eve. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the country to be able to make such a shameful, shocking and disappointing confession on December 31st 2008.
I imagine though that many were far more drunk than me. I was at that level at which I knew I was drunk, and thus should pace myself and be careful with any further intake. The kind of level at which one is very aware of one's own thoughts and, whilst all around is a little blurry and soft at the edges thanks to the intake of beer, wine, whisky and (gulp) absinthe (just a small shot of that - I remember the last time I had absinthe, which was ten whole years ago..), then one is also aware of the blurriness, and that the best thing is to enjoy it but also to take care.
By the time we got to the second phase of the night - we'd already been out just outside town, and were now back to go to a house party just a few minutes' walk from home - it was already well past midnight. I grabbed my bottle of wine, joined the two or three other companions of mine, and we headed to the party.
Inside, whilst not exactly a scene of debauchery, it had clearly been a heavy evening there, judging by the array of rictus grins, eyes in separate orbits, and perambulatory movements which might be some kind of approximation of walking, and whose relationship to verticality was no more than casual.
Not that this should imply the same of everyone who was there - as relatively lucid as I felt (ie I could look people in the eye, and also string a sentence together), I was in conversation for a while with a bunch of people who were clearly far more sober than I. I was together enough to do some washing up to make sure I and my friends had some clean glasses to drink from though (is that any kind of benchmark, I wonder?).
There was a very pleasant surprise: I bumped into a friend I'd not seen for a while, and really hadn't expected her to be there, since I didn't know that she had friends amongst the folk at the party who were familiar to me.
I went over and gave her a great big hug, and said Happy New Year, and we had a few minutes of conversation - I only vaguely recall what it was about - mainly catching up, talking about how Christmas had been, and so on. It was lovely to see her. Soon though I was back talking with my other companions and a mixture of familiar and new faces. Before much more time had elapsed, I realised I needed to go home. I'd had a good evening throughout, but knew that if I had any more to drink, my slightly-blunted senses would become altogether less reliable, and I would surely pay for it in the morning.
Oh, come on, stay for a bit longer - you haven't even finished your wine!
No, seriously, it's time to go. I can't drink any more, I need to go and get some sleep!
Ok. Happy New Year!
In the wee small hours, it was a delight to walk home. Utter silence, save for the faint, muffled repetitive thuds of music emanating from behind the doors of houses here and there along the way. It was refreshingly cold, the sky was largely clear, and the half an inch of snow gleamed and twinkled against the streetlights and the moon. I didn't rush home, weary as I was - I was determined to savour the scene.
Magical is a very lazy word to use, but it'll do. Here goes:
It was magical.
Apart from being a little tired and lethargic, I was ok the following day - clearly I'd made the sensible decision in making my exit when I had done. Nice not to feel utterly trashed or completely devoid of energy on New Year's Day.
The friend who I mentioned above, the one whom I was surprised to have bumped into at the party: we'll call her Karen.
Well yesterday, I bumped into a friend of Karen's: someone I happen upon and have a chat with from time to time.
Oh hello she said, how are you? Anything to tell me?
Suddenly I had a mild stab of anxiety, since there was a mixture of innuendo and curiosity in her voice. Had I been far more drunk than I'd thought at the party? Oh, bloody hell. Had I overdone it and embarrassed myself in front of Karen? I was sure that I hadn't, especially given the clarity of my recollection of the whole evening, but here was a little window of doubt starting to open up.
I replied to the effect that, yes, I'd had quite a drunken night on New Year's Eve. I asked about hers, suddenly thinking that she might have been at the party with Karen.
Oh, mine was terrible. Well it started out alright, but I was at a party and I hardly knew anyone there. Ended up WAY too drunk.
Oh, right, I replied. Where was this?
It was over at a friend's place down in South Wales. I was really embarrassed. Karen's been taking the piss out of me ever since.
Well you should have kept it to yourself then, and not told her!
Well I could hardly do that, she saw everything.
How do you mean?
She was there with me - we drove down together, and came back the following day.
This party - it was definitely on New Year's Eve?
Are you sure?
YES! Well I'm hardly going to imagine it, am I?
At which point, I had to explain that I must have imagined seeing Karen at the party I went to on the same night.
All I can say is, I'm definitely going to stick to my customary vow of total sobriety for the duration of January.