To mark the one-year anniversary of waking up in a car in a tuxedo during the school run I got back on the horse and accepted an invite to the Work’s Christmas Do.
T’was a cold night when I ventured into South London and to the exclusive Hurlington Club – a private members place with a 13 year waiting list to join. By the looks of some of the stumbling husks of decrepitude I encountered in the car park they got in by the skin of their teeth. I imagined myself, 13 years hence, a spritely 53 year old with many days still ahead to enjoy amongst these terrible people.
My vague hostility was born of an earlier phone call where I’d enquired whether or not, as a guest, I’d be able to make use of a shower.
‘I don’t have time to go home and change before the party, so was wondering if…’
‘Are you a member?’ the receptionist asked.
There was a sharp intake of breath. ‘One moment please.’
A different voice joined the call – deeper, more abrasive: ‘We don’t have any showers.’
‘But you’re a health spa?’
‘That is correct.’
‘You must have a considerable number of showers.’
‘None that you can use.’
‘And why is that?’
(Words like ‘Why’ bring out a faint Brummie twang in my voice).
Shit, she knew I was northern. The gig was up.
I ended the call and took a moment to vent at one of my colleagues, but he was a little pre-occupied, having realised that he’d forgotten to buy a secret santa gift. We ventured into the tiny town of Egham where, in an act of sheer desperation, he settled on a bag of plastic dinosaurs and a cafetiere made from lead and asbestos. ‘That’ll bring the IT professionals joy / provide an hilarious choking hazard for their kids.’
I purchased a towel and used the bathing facilities of a recently acquired client (let’s not make this weird). Good! Cleansed and armed with tat we set forth.
Who the hell turns up to a black tie event wearing a blue tie? Oh…
My colleagues instantly earmarked me as a pariah and I underwent the walk of shame through a tunnel made of dickie-bows and judgement.
I opened my secret santa gift: A book on management techniques.
I thought back to when I was a child. I wanted to be an astronaut…
Several glasses of red wine and dad-dances later I found myself in a ‘Spouse-cab.’
‘Looks like the M4’s closed – Gonna have to drop you in an industrial estate just outside Winnersh Triangle I’m afraid.’
‘No problem – 25 miles closer than I’d planned to get. Thanks.’
I phoned for a taxi and stood outside a dormant looking Holiday Inn, its empty foyer pumping out Nat King Cole singing ‘Though it’s been said, many times, many ways – Merry Chriz-Maah tooooo youuuu.’
Across the way I heard someone throw up.
The taxi arrived and I started jabbering away to the driver (Mohammed). We covered a lot of ground in 6 miles – Uber cars and all the evil therein, the eventual heat death of the universe. We also agreed to open a bar together (in Banderowela, Sri Lanka).
Drink driving is a despicable act. As such I had failed to drunk-locate my car. Little did I know that I would spend two hours the following day moving between my usual haunts to no avail. It was as if I was deliberately trying to trick myself…
…But that was for later. Right now I had the munchies something fierce. A cursory dip into a barren fridge revealed my two great loves: fudge and bacon.
‘We can make this work!’ I announced.
Turns out – we couldn’t…