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And another year passes by…

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“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”

The last couple of weeks have been a blur of parties, presents, turkey and trimmings.
There was my first office Christmas knees up since I started there, which went amazingly without embarrassment. There was in fact two parties – one traditional Christmas meal and one booze up in Guildford. My manager and I had tried for weeks beforehand to organise the booze up, and despite having to change the date we all managed to turn up and boogie until 3am on Saturday morning. Our chosen venue was the Voodoo Lounge and the cheesy music enabled me to bop until closing time. Limbs flailing and outrageously out of time, I felt it was only fair to apologise for my dancing to the rest of our group the following Monday. No matter though – all agreed it was good fun, and excuses are now being finalised to have another one…
And then there was Mel’s birthday meal at a pub in Fulham. Being so close to Christmas, it was compulsory to have turkey and trimmings, a fact that our stomachs were most pleased about. Jac, however, had promised his girlfriend that he would be round for Chistmas dinner with her that night, and late in the evening, after his second three course meal of the day, I got a text message: “I fell full. And bloated. And about to explode. I don’t think I can manage the eleventh After Eight of the evening…”
Christmas Day was the usual family-based affair, with the largest turkey I’ve ever laid eyes on sitting on the dining table at my grandmothers house. We tucked in, and barely made a dent. My presents were prolific and wonderful, and amongst many other things I am now the proud owner of a tie rack, a cocktail shaker, several DVDs, an XBOX game and a fibre optic light. Playing on my affection for elephants, I’m also now a proud sponsor of a newborn elephant called Tume, with a complementary ticket to go and see the little rascal. A trip to Whipsnade in the near future, I think…
Finally, there was New Year. My usual plan is to leave everything undecided until the last moment, and accept a party offer at the 11th hour. However, this year no-one seemed to have plans. And why, Michelle and I thought on the 30th December, should we go out, spend loads of money on virtually nothing and not remember a thing? As it happens, Jac and Debbie felt the same, so Michelle and I piled round to Jac’s farmhouse, to be presented with a magnificent 3 course meal on a fully laid up dinign table, complete with Winnie The Pooh christmas crackers. It was a grand effort, and 2005 came round with the greatest of ease.
So, there goes another zippedy fast year. I hope you all had a good Christmas!

BBQ and a Comedy Club

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Now, last night WAS fun. Michelle, Jac and I packed ourselves off to Elli and Mel’s in London for swift barbeque and a visit to their local comedy club. The barbeque went without a hitch, with Jac and I reminiscing about our previous debauched parties there, while flipping the burgers and tossing the sausages like the true barbeque professionals we are. I almost tipped myself over the first floor railing (that broken fence is a deathtrap, I tell you), and we all drank substantially, in an effort to deaden the embarrassment if any of the night’s comedy acts were as funny as a dustpan and brush.
But we needn’t have worried. As all eight of us settled in the front row of the venue and the first act started, it dawned on us why our seats were the only ones available – we were picked on mercilessly. Well, most Jac, to be fair. By the end of the night, he had been accused of both sleeping with an 11 year old girl, whilst also fathering her baby.
4 comedians paraded their wares in front of us, and as is usually the case, each one was better than the last. The comedians of the night were Ian Stone, a self-effacing and self-parodying Jewish man and Reginald D Hunter, a black man who had kindly come all the way from America to make us laugh.
The tables were cleared away after the acts, and the obligatory stupid dances were in full view as Jac and I twirled around the dancefloor, strutting our stuff. Ed, Michelle and the other girls could only look on in embarrassment.
I’ll be honest, I was worried about the comedy – about the awkwardness if the acts just weren’t funny. But on the strength of that I am most sincerely up for another one.

Bon Jovi – F*** it, Let’s Play

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Bon Jovi are gods. Well, more or less. Michelle, Jac, Nick and I ventured into London’s Hyde Park yesterday for a Bon Jovi gig, and we couldn’t have picked a better day. Michelle and I were up first, booking into our hotel by 11.30am and taking a long walk through Kensington Gardens, to the Hyde Park venue. And you’ll be amazed to hear I’ve found the first bit of London I like. The Royal Parks, as they’re called, are very nice indeed, and you forget you’re ever in London for a while. Which, I suppose, is probably why it’s so nice.
It was about this time that Jac, nursing an almighty hangover, managed to catch a train from Watford. He’d woken up, as ever on a Saturday or Sunday morning, fully clothed, unable to remember much of the night, and feeling really rather rough. After stumbling out of his flat, a swift haircut ensued, after which he hauled himself to mile or so to the train station, onto the train carriage, and headed for London, on a line that went in completely the other direction, straight past his flat.
Michelle and I had, by this point, managed to find the place, and marked our position in the growing queue. It was 1pm, the sun was beating down, slowly grilling us, and without shade we decided we may as well get a tan. We didn’t reckon, of course, on sunburn. 1 hour later, we were hurting and thirsty, and radioed ahead to Jac for drinks. He arrived at 2, and we set about the mind-numbingly slow queueing process. Ahead of us, we could see the stage, and at the top we could see a scrolling messageboard, inviting us to text our messages so they could be scrolled along the large screen. So, seizing a good opportunity and a waste of 25p, I texted “Let Us In”. In the boredom of the queue, the point when the message scrolled across in huge letters was far and away the most amusing thing we had done, and we whooped loudly for joy, shouting, “oh, oh, oh, THERE IT IS”. Everyone, including Michelle, stared at us, quite possibly hoping they would stand nowhere near us when were were eventually let in. You’ll be pleased to know that I also advertised to the 92,000 people sitting there…
We burst into the ground at 4pm, and managed a very decent spot near the front of the crowd. Very quickly, we were surrounded by the rest of the queue, and from that moment on, we realised we would not be able to move until the end. No drink-getting, no food-buying, not even a visit to the little boys room. We were stuck.
We were still stuck an hour and a half later. And still waiting for the band to start up. Legs gave way, and the sun burned the living daylights out of any available skin.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Nick yet. That’s more or less because he was incredibly late. His, and his friend Mel’s, plan was to come up at 2.30pm, find Hyde Park, find us, and start queueing. The plan, sadly, went a little pear-shaped. He managed to turn up 15 minutes before the support band started, and gave up fighting through the crowd about twenty minutes later. We never saw him.
And then Bon Jovi came on. All was forgiven as song after song rained down on us – Living on a Prayer, Bad Medicine, Lay Your Hands On Me, You Give Love A Bad Name, One Wild Night, Bounce, they were all there. So we didn’t get too bogged down in their sheer brilliance, towards the end they played classic tracks from other bands – Lola and Twist And Shout, amongst others. They also played Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over The World – Jac was in pure ecstacy, in contrast to the many foreigners in the audience around us, who merely looked at each other, shrugging their shoulders repeatedly.
It was a perfect gig, and as the sun set with hardly a cloud in the sky, it dawned on us that this was a very special place to be on that Saturday night. Even Jon Bon Jovi couldn’t get enough – 3 hours and 3 encores later, he was still going, strumming away in front of 92,000 in the Royal Park, ignoring the supposed finish time by at least half an hour.
We all left feeling exhausted and burnt; but also in the knowledge that, for those 3 hours, we were the biggest Bon Jovi fans in the world. We’d come for entertainment, and by golly we’d got it. Roll on next year. And Nick – I think a little earlier would be good…

Fancy Dress party

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Last weekend, Jac, Nick and I popped up to see some friends in London. Simon H, unfortunately, was “unavailable” (those inverted commas are purely for the overinformed). It was initially a fancy dress get-together, but, scared by the mere thought of what Jac and I might concoct, the ‘fancy dress’ aspect was duly cancelled 3 days before the event. This was like a red rag to a bull. After calming the hosts’ fears, and assuring them that we were just arriving in normal clothes, we rolled up on the mauve doorstep in Balham, South London, with the most stupid outfits we could find. Jac went so far as to buy a costume, while I had dressed so fancily that no one could recognise me when the door eventually opened. As I presented myself at the door of the living room, the whole place went as quiet as the Queen Mother, as 22 normally-dressed people stared. In retrospect, I should have waited for Jac before entering, being only a minute behind me, waddling up the road dressed as an elf.
I tell you, trying to have a conversation with Elvis glasses, a huge afro wig and a bushy moustache is no easily flippable pancake. Remarkably hard. As the evening wore on, and the initial raucous laughter had died down, I wondered what on earth possessed me to slip into this overly hot rubbish. I duly changed, and as I poked my head out of the bathroom, I could make out the shape of Jac (don’t even ask me what shape Jac is…), suctioned heartily to Mel, hostess for the night. Again.
So, a jolly good night was had. I got drunk and was challenged to a wrestle (humble apologies to the opponent for his shredded boxer shorts…); Jac lost some more of his short-term memory (“I’ll have some garlic… what’s it called?” “Bread, Jac” “Oh yes, garlic bread”); and we all unfortunately confused the word “pansies” with the word “panties”, consequently thinking that Elli’s panties always face the sun, and must be watered at least once a day.