"Tangerine!" By Amanda Prowse
No 23 "You Gotta Fight For Your Right To NOT Paaaaaaaarty!!"
New Year’s Eve. Yes, it’s that time in December when we breathe a sigh of relief that it’s nearly all over for another year. We survey the damage, tot up the overdraft, fold away the camping table and spare chairs that meant everyone had a space to eat lunch, work out what gifts we can return for a refund, stop tidying the front room and finally we care less if someone uses the Christmas tea towel that was for decoration only…
Reluctantly, we eat up leftovers, sniff test the trifle to see if we can give it one final outing and groan at the sight of cold ham, pigs in blankets and the dregs of a pickle jar. We open the chocolate tub to find all our favourites are long gone, and in my house at least, someone has seen fit to put the wrappers back in with the rejects, which gives a false glimmer of hope as I spot my favoured colour foil…
It’s also party time! Whoop whoop! Now, while many of you I’m sure will be firing off a glitter cannon and doing a happy dance at the prospect, it’s only fair I confess that when it comes to parties, I would rather have a root canal. There I’ve said it. I’d like to point out that this is not something that has come about with my advancing years, aching joints and less than rhythmic feet. Mine is not the reticence of the middle-aged moaner who has had her day at the disco and now finds ‘pop’ music too loud and too samey – although both of these are true.
I have always been this way. The tale of how my mum organised me a surprise thirteenth birthday party and I spent the whole event locked in the loo, hiding, is legendary. Fret not, I had a book to read, someone snuck me a slice of Victoria sponge and a warm egg mayonnaise sandwich through the window, and we had one of those loo seat covers that were all the rage in the seventies – the ones that harboured every germ known to humankind, but at least my bum was warm.
It's fair to say, I’m less of a social butterfly, more of a lonesome limpet – one who would prefer to stick to the wall and watch others, rather than flit from guest to guest, wooing them with my witty repartee. In fact, I’m not sure I have a repartee of any kind, let alone a witty one. Although I do know a couple of cracking knock-knock jokes, which tend not to go down too well if my audience is above the age of six.
Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting people, and love spending time with my friends. But prefer to do it on a sofa, wearing my comfies with a decent cuppa in my palms, and not in heels while cackhandedly juggling a glass of something fizzy and a warm canapé. A canapé that is often so insubstantial it can almost guarantee I go home via the chippy for sustenance.
When it comes to getting ready for the party of the year; curling my locks, waxing my top lip, and ferreting around in my ancient makeup bag for eyeshadows, concealers, and lipsticks, I just can’t be bothered! Having never been body confident – the very thought of slipping into a body disguising, shapeless velvet sack, while lithe lovelies shimmy the night away in silk, brings me out in hives. Is there the equivalent of a New Year’s Eve Grinch? If so, I fear it might resemble me. Hairy top lip and all.
And it’s not that I don’t want others to have a good time, to laugh, boogie, give a rousing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ all washed down with a cheeky snifter to oil the wheels – I do! But it’s just not for me. This largely down the fact that twelve o’clock is way past my bedtime. Ten o’clock is a late night in our house – as for staying up til midnight – I may not turn into a pumpkin, but I might turn into a dormouse. One who curls up in the corner to nap with her heels in her hand and her head on a pillow made out of the pashmina she wears to cover up her bingo wings.
If I’m lucky I might receive a couple of invites to soirees, but have to think of how to politely refuse, knowing most people would take offence if I told them the truth, “Thank you so much, but I’d rather ping off my bra, watch a repeat of Masterchef on catch up, have a couple of slices of toast and an early night. But maybe next year?”
And don’t get me started on the etiquette of these gatherings; greeting kisses and happy holiday kisses and good bye kisses – it’s cold and flu season people! Who wants to catch bugs? I speak as one who has spent the festive break with two tissues rammed up my schnozzle, bags under my eyes deep enough to contain all the rubbish we accumulated over Christmas and a complexion that could politely be described as ‘crypt chic’ – I looked like an extra from ‘Wednesday.’
There is also the tricky issue of travelling on this auspicious night. Potential train strikes, icy roads, limited services, crowded buses, no free parking, shivering cab queues… sweet mother of Betsy – I feel the chill in my bones and rumble of anxiety at the thought. Far better to sit at home and look at the bald Christmas tree which shed its needles a day or two after arriving but is still handsomely bedecked in tinsel and winking fairy lights.
It's not only the party aspect of New Year’s Eve I find challenging, but I have always found the tolling of the midnight bell to be quite mournful. I know I’m not alone in having faced loss this year and my sorrow I’m sure, will be all the more acute, as a new year is heralded. A year where the person I have lost has never existed and the thought of all the anniversaries that lay in wait to trip my grief switch. I suspect that whether in public or not, my tears will break their banks and recollection of the most trying year will leave me floored.
So I say celebrate the arrival of the coming year in whichever way you see fit. To party or not to party, the choice is yours. For those of you who will be arm in arm with a paper crown askew on your head as 2023 is ushered in, I hope you have the very best time. And for those like me who might peep their head from beneath the duvet to acknowledge the distant cheers of revellers, I hope that the coming year is a kind one…
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