Monday, 8 December 2008
I was genuinely disappointed not to make it to the weekend's Tarts & Vicars party. Never been to one - have you? However, the pilot is in Mexico, and not really feeling up to braving the freezing streets of Hampshire alone dressed as either a vicar or a tart I kept him company with an early night and 2am alarm. I am however looking forward to the photographs - some of the costumes sounded rather imaginative. When I was younger the Christmas choice was either hunt balls or toga parties (post Animal House I suppose?) They were rather similar on reflection. Both involved randy Young Farmers and sixth-formers with ruddy cheeks drenched in aftershave chasing giggling girls down freezing corridors or around dimly lit barns with red lightbulbs and a mobile disco. Togas are an excellent idea in sunnier climes, a bit parky in mid-winter Exmoor. But you just don't notice things like the cold when you are younger do you?
Party season is well and truly upon us. Misssy and Scarlet have both blogged brilliantly about the wonders of the office party recently - well worth a look. Is your mantlepiece heaving with stiffies this season? My parents used to be stuffed with invitations each Christmas - I think half of Devon must be permanently pickled in December. Once you've hooked up, Christmas parties become more of the matching jumpers and mulled wine variety again - it's like reverting to those parent's parties you couldn't wait to get away from. Where we lived 'between the moors' was so wild you would often have 6ft snow drifts in winter, which is quite unusual for the UK. My Dad and the other men would rescue stranded villagers in Jeeps and tractors, bring them to the party, and then (more innocent times) merrily drive them home again.
Inevitably there would be a sing-a-long around the baby grand. My uncle is a brilliant jazz pianist and I remember lying in bed listening to the grown-up parties downstairs. They'd normally swing through Bing, Jerome Kern - all the standards. My mother was the church organist and choir master - it's amazing how all those little old ladies could belt out the show tunes. Every year was the same - hiding under the electric blanket trying desperately to warm up (English people don't heat their houses or they didn't in 70s Devon) listening to 'Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one man til I die ... Can't help lovin' dat man o mine ...' One other song I remember clearly is today's video clip - what made me think of it was musing about Christmas dating disasters. What is it about Christmas that seems to accelerate and heighten every emotion? I don't know what the stats are but I bet divorce lawyers are busy in January. Christmas is the season of hook-up and break-up. New Year is the time you don't want to be toasting alone - or do you?
TODAY'S PROMPT: Every Christmas party is a short story in the making. The hopes, the fears, the hidden passions, the feuds and arguments simmering below the surface. Why not have a think back over the years to your best and worst parties. For worst, you might want to provide a few triggers. If it is a romantic disaster - music (Last Christmas by Wham perhaps?), smell - (Kouros? Lynx?), taste ... you get the picture. My own favourite Christmas disasters include the one where the boyfriend who used to watch himself talking to you if there was a mirror in the vicinity (he who inspired the video clip) made full use of the mistletoe and a more than willing 'friend'. Or perhaps the family party which descended into such divisive arguments that the factions split in two, the hall became no-man's land and a few of us spent Boxing Day sheltering there with the drinks trolley passing messages from one side to the other. Love, family - if they weren't tricky enough to navigate normally, what is it about Christmas that brings everything to fever pitch?
PS: What the heck - it's Christmas - put the journal away and curl up under your blanket and enjoy: