Stamina for beginners


Thump. The sound of me finally rolling off the end of the party conveyor belt. I shouldn’t be ungrateful – God knows January will be dead – but we did get to a point last week where I had to gird myself. Metaphorically hoist up the trousers like fat-man Oliver Hardy about to shift a piano. That was Wednesday, I think. Certainly it was around mid-week that I forcibly put the brakes on by ringing a surprised friend and demanding to be allowed to babysit her kids on Saturday night. Actually, it was only one night off – there’s a party this afternoon – but a night off is worth more than gold now that I’m not as young as I was. I once said that to a Swedish mate Pia, who gnomically countered that she didn’t think she’d ever been as young as she was. Untangle THAT one, sophistricates.

Anyhoo, I knew the batteries were flat last night because I was happy to watch New Tricks on Alibi, episode after episode, not even bothering to see what was on other channels. And then I dozed off in front of The Boat That Rocked.

So a quick scamper through the week. You know when you do something a bit weird, a bit disgusting and a bit embarrassing? Ideally in front of witnesses? Hello, Tuesday. I was having dinner with some ladies-mag chums in a place where the menu veers towards the derring-do. I’m not foodie enough to be sure, but the composition of starters and mains never seems very balanced. It’s just a succession of oddsods that don’t really make sense together.

After some chin-rubbing, two of us chose the venison, and as any Masterchef and Brownie Guide will tell you, presentation is important. The table fell silent as our choice arrived, rolled, roasted and laid out unmistakably like a huge turd netted from the drains and flipped straight onto a plate. An engorged, dyspeptic, brown-crusted, blimey-I-bet-you’re-glad-to-be-rid-of-that, Henry VIII-sized stool, nestled beside a bit of greenery. I’m sorry to say that we tittered and pointed when the waiter left because we’d already finished a bottle and we’re all really mature. Why didn’t they score the top a few times with a sharp knife? Cut the log into slices? Jesus, anything rather than plonk a shit in front of the paying guests. So me and the deer friend (ho ho, see?) pushed down our disgust and had a go.

Again, lack of foodie knowledge, but I always thought that to maximise meat’s tenderness you either hang it or cook it rare. Not both. Dear God, it wasn’t even pink, it was red in the middle, slightly slimy and powerfully gamey. Not good. Anyway, I don’t like to see food go to waste, so I cut the ends off and ate them, then wrapped up the rest of it in a plastic bag and popped it into my handbag, to massed incredulity. As I tried to explain to the WTF Chorus Line who were giving it socks, cold venison is lovely, so the plan was to take it home, cook it properly and eat it with piccalilli – or perhaps a spiced sweet pickle, yum – later in the week.

Cut to our departure. Bustling towards Leicester Square, I rummaged in my bag for the hard plastic of my Oyster card. Instead, my groping fingers lighted upon the grisly, unremembered pochette, horridly soft and still warm, like a donated organ. Fresh air had restored common sense, and with an Eurgh! I lobbed it straight into the nearest bin. God knows what turns up in pre-Christmas bins in Soho; I like to think my offering was nothing by comparison.

Despite the partygoing, and an occasional unwise dinner choice, the drinking has not been heavy. The nights have been late, but not intoxicated. I haven’t found myself trotting through subterranean London in strange outfits (not like the girl in the wedding dress – a coatless, bagless lone traveller on the last tube from Kennington to Tooting Bec on Friday night. Eh?).

My restraint is not just from we’ve-got-days-to-go-yet-Tiger long-termism, but also because of the squid eyes. The optician told me to use a warm compress etc twice a day, and since I want to look normal, I’m sticking religiously to the regimen. Which means getting home compos mentis enough to slosh boiling water around and stick cotton buds in my eyes. And it works! I haven’t had any hangovers, and my eyes are blue and white again!

So there we have it, the recipe for a safe and healthy party season: pshaw to pints of water, just pretend you’ve got blepharitis. Ooh, and this one goes for year-round: don’t truffle through any bins in Soho. It just ain’t werf it.


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