I’m still suffering after New Year’s Eve. Not from the drink – although believe me when I say I did drink at least five Desperados and about three ladlefuls of mulled wine. No, what I’m suffering from is the weight of the resolution which I have made and which now hangs from my neck like a horrible little anvil. I twiddle my beard and frown.
As I write this, it is New Year’s Day. I am in my flat, sat against the wall. I haven’t done much since I awoke. Only lamented the events of last night and dragged my laptop over to me by hooking the wire with my boot. I am still wearing my anorak, which is wet, and, when I awoke, I had in my mouth – among other things – a cigarette. It had been smoked – by me? – and was half-glued to my bottom lip with residue, presumably off the back of some kind of Sambuca or WKD, that I had been cajoled into drinking by the doctors with whom I revelled last night. I have just spent 20 minutes scraping mud from my jeans with my Oyster card and now my laptop sits on her master’s lap, and I am “knocking out my column”.
There is a strong smell of fish in the room. I was stone-cold sober when we cooked the fish pie. Me and CDG did it – we poached the s**t out of shrimps and pollocks and capers and eggs in a load of white wine and sherry and buried the little ba**ards under about a foot of mashed potatoes. This was to line the various stomachs of our gang. Though, because of a lack of seasoning, cooking-time and skill, not much got eaten. The word “raw” was thrown about a lot around the table. I can glimpse a few of the pies up through the glass table. Some of the hardier pollocks appear to be swimming drunkenly. Like me, they are dazed. I clutch at my beard.
After the pie we did shots of something or other out of glasses shaped like wellies and then bought alcohol and tobacco from Costcutter. The theory I always abide by on these occasions is that I’ll probably end up drunkenly resolving to give up drinking at some point in the evening so I may as well fill my boots while I’m still a bad person. We poured about £200 worth of grubby liquids into a Bag for Life and paid up. Then The Maniac snogged the shopkeeper, we all did a bit of singing, and we headed off up Parliament Hill.
After some brawling and sparklers we found a good bin to convene around and that was us. Gawping out across London’s famous skyline we drunkenly pointed at The Shard and drooled at the enduring smoothness of St Pauls’s gorgeous dome. It is difficult not to be moved to tears when you’re confronted with a roof that smooth. I’m sure I’d be the same if I ever met Peter Ebdon. I would just weep and wish I could place my hand upon his pate.
And then the resolutions came. Shot after shot, doctor after doctor, we announced resolutions that we would abide by for the next 12 months or potentially more or potentially less. Lord would drink less such and such, Bowls would try harder with her so and so, CDG would etc, etc. It came to me and I ad-libbed something about doing pilates. They challenged me, so I said I’d give up drink. They were pushing me about, too. I’m always losing stuff so I said I might buy a handbag. No one was happy with my resolutions, it was almost New Year. “Shave your beard off,” one shouted.
I think resolutions are personal and should come from the heart. But now they were all chanting mine at me. “Shave your beard!” they yelled. “Shave your beard”. I looked across the cityscape. Fireworks blew into frame. I reflected.
I’m tugging at my beard again now. I’m shivering. I reach for a fistful of pie. I will gather my strength and shave off my beard. Something certainly has to give.