I have never been one for huge New Year celebrations. The whole going out and getting drunk thing has never appealed to me. I can trace the roots of this back to one New Year’s Eve from before I was even old enough to drink.
In Leamington there was at that time a holy – or perhaps ‘unholy’ trinity of drinking establishments regularly frequented by McDonald’s staff. There was The Birch and Billycock, a large traditional pub with a beer garden (if you can call sticking a few large pot plants into a concreted area a ‘garden’). Then there was Cassis, which aspired to be a modern wine bar with a large television screen showing music videos (I first saw The Cure’s ‘Inbetween Days‘ video there). Somewhere inbetween (see what I did there) was Baker’s, which actually called itself a wine bar but was really a pub with a spiral staircase leading to a second bar in the basement and which at one time caused me to develop a taste for Kronenberg 1664.
McDonald’s nights out tended to revolve around these three locations, before moving on to Options nightclub. New Year’s Eve was slightly different, simply because of the time and expense of getting into a nightclub.
The first New Year I went out with my workmates was a good one. I remember seeing in the New Year stood under the spiral staircase, singing ‘American Pie‘ with PK, simply because we knew all of the words.
The second year was a good night but with a bit of a different ending. Although, as on Christmas Eve, we finished work early, I cannot have been at work at all that day. A few days earlier my friend Pete Morris had turned nineteen and a group of us had met at my home for a Chinese meal. As the rest of my family were away I ate the leftovers from that meal before going out on New Year’s Eve. Had I been at work it would have been more burgers than you would’ve expected my painfully thin frame to hold!
The evening went well until midnight approached. We were in the Birch and Billycock, having slaked several thirsts at the two other venues first. The crush for the bar was great, but I had great ‘bar skills’ in those days and was always able to slip to the front of and get served relatively easily (being so painfully thin that I could slip through the smallest of gaps really helped). I was, therefore, fully armed with a drink in each hand as the bells tolled midnight.
I shall never know what made me think that an appropriate way to see in the New Year was by downing a combination of Guinness, Malibu and pineapple juice. It can’t possibly have tasted as bad as it sounded, but it certainly tasted bad about four hours later when I suddenly and spectacularly brought it all back up.
That, on the other hand, may have saved me from my first ever hangover, because despite the night of drinking and lack of food, I was still awake in time to catch an American Football highlights show the next morning, during which my family finally caught up with me to wish me a Happy New Year and part of the programme was soundtracked with Dire Straits’ song ‘Walk of Life‘.
I don’t think I’ve drunk Malibu since, and I’ve certainly not had a December 31st like that ever again.