Putting 2011 to bed

1 Jan

I didn't party like Prince this year

I’m sitting with my feet up on the coffee table drinking mint tea. I may be the most boring woman in England this New Year’s Eve. I haven’t even turned any music on – it would feel too loud. It hasn’t always been like this and I’m sure I’ll party again, but this year I’m happy to be at home.

Four hours ago I was watching three girls under the age of 11 performing a Spice Girls’ song in the kitchen. They had been primped and preened by my best friend – a make up artist –  who’d been drinking since midday. “Give it some more teeth girls. You’re all gorgeous. You could form your very own girl band with those moves.” So much for my lessons in feminism. I glared at my friend and told him to stop behaving like a pimp for mini pops. He looked at me and said “Darling, they love it. Stop being such a hairy prude.” Looking at them prancing about it was quite obvious that they were having the times of their lives. He’d won this time.

I’d forgotten that I’d invited the neighbours around (and was also trying to recall their names even though we’ve lived next door to each other for a year now.) While my daughter and her entourage were putting on an X Factor style show for the new guests, I was trying my best to impress them with my responsible parenting techniques. But I was failing.

The baby was eating a fistful of smoked salmon blinis that he’d grabbed from a plate in front of him. I’m not sure that salty fish is a good supper for a baby, but there was nothing in the fridge. My other son was jumping from an arm of the sofa, narrowly missing the table of champagne glasses before announcing “I’m so excited because I get to stay up until midnight.” “Er, no you don’t.” I said resolutely. I was looking forward to a silent house by 10pm. “But you promised.” He stopped and thought for a while. “OK, if you let me drink this glass of wine I’ll go to bed earlier.” How the hell did I react to that one? A six year old bartering with alcohol as the reward? All adult eyes were on me, probably wondering how often my son got to drink at home. “No, you can’t do that and you can’t stay up till midnight. But you can watch Dr Who.”

More friends arrived with fizz, a thoughtful gesture as they were also collecting the girls for a party. I suddenly realised what a great evening this was turning out to be. I was drinking steadidly but not excessively, people were calling by to see me, meaning I didn’t have to move an inch, and one by one my children were being taken off my hands (the baby was now being rocked to sleep with a bottle by one of the neighbours).

By 9pm I was on the sofa eating a chocolate pudding with the middle child, thinking how good it was to actually sit down and have some time alone with him. True to the cliche, he is the one who’s always left out. We watched Sleeper and laughed at Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in the Orgasmotron, which beats Matt Smith in Dr Who any day.

By 10pm, all present children tucked up, I was alone, and in my peaceful state I thought about the best and worst things about 2011. Well, the things that are safe for everyone to know anyway. Here are my top five:


1. Giving birth to a healthy baby in February.

2. Finding a good local hairdresser to give me a blow-dry. My hair no longer looks and feels like a a fisherman’s pubes.

3. Giving up dusting. You can wipe dust away, but it’s still there in the air, waiting to settle again.

4. Going to Don McCullen’s exhibition ‘Shaped by War’ at the IWM.

5. My sister’s wedding. Awesome. The party went on all night, and for once I was the last to leave.


1. Finding a good local hairdresser to  blow-dry my hair. Now I’m too lazy to ever wash it again, I’m even poorer than I was before.

2. Going to the cinema to see ‘Melancholia.’

3. Joining Facebook again. I’ll be leaving soon.

4. Wearing Spanx for the first – and last time.

5. Calling my father ‘darling’ on the phone by mistake. Not as bad as it sounds, but if you know him and you know what our relationship is like, you’d realise why it took me a week to recover.


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