When I was a young man we used to have these things called “parties”. Nowadays we use the word party to mean a collection of idiots – for instance “the conservative party”. But when I was a young whippersnapper, back in 2019, perfectly reasonable individuals would gather together in the same place and render themselves circular with liberal application of toxic ethanol. Sometimes we would throw arms around one another or dance or snog somebody before you ask their name. You’d share drinks. You’d brush up against one another without noticing, just as part of an interaction. A hand on the shoulder for emphasis. An affectionate pat. We’d gather together indoors and share an experience, an evening, a few hours. Years later we’d still remember it in flashes with old friends. “Fuck me yes I remember, and everybody was smoking in the kitchen and stubbing cigarettes into an old doner kebab.” Hot sweaty throngs with the music too loud and everybody shouting. Too many people and not enough chairs. Some good looking arsehole upstairs being mean to people because he secretly hates himself. The guy who is always hammered falling over on the TV. An entire bottle of red wine on the bed because a friend insisted on bringing Jonty and Jonty turned out to be a jerk. Somebody losing their coat, somebody else crying uncontrollably. The tough friend conversation: “I love you. You’re drunk. You’re being a twat. Go home.” Protestations of love and lust. The guy who keeps vanishing and coming back touching his nose and talking loudly.

Waking up the next morning to find chicken bones on the sofa and a fucked microwave somebody found in the street containing Tom’s PhD thesis. Somebody on the sofa called Mog who somehow ends up sleeping there for three more nights before you pluck up the courage to ask him who he is. “Oh sorry mate, I thought this was a squat”. Emerging into the light of the next day to discover you’re still dressed as a caveman and everybody outside is wearing a suit and walking quickly and you feel like you don’t fit.

Back in the real world your stomach muscles hurt for a week from playing “Everybody pick up the same cereal packet off the floor using just teeth with only your feet touching the floor” or “Limbo” or “let’s all swap clothes” or “let’s play hide and seek” where you decided to fold up into a chest and everybody else got bored and stopped playing. Whenever your head or body hurts you smile at the memory and then grimace because you said a stupid thing that literally nobody remembers but you. And you never work out how you got that cut on your leg.

Laid out like that it doesn’t sound as glamorous. But I miss it. The throng – all those vile bodies all in one place. This time of year was crazy, back when I was a whippersnapper, before we needed a permit to go to the shops.

Ahhh those heady nights overheating because the radiators are all on and forty people are dancing in coats in a room the size of a doctor’s surgery for six hours.

We’d be in Christmas Carol now. Crazy crazy Carol. We would BE the party. “Ebenezer, can we buy you some wine?” Jack and I would be dosed up on everything possible to get us through the next three weeks without turning into a puddle. In Covidland, we would have been vectors.

Looking back over my blogs, it’s a year today since I walked in to an audition and came out with a part in a nice thing – thank God for that. I was drinking hard, fighting myself hard, working hard but not taking any time to reflect or improve myself. Work party work party work until the work is the party and the party is the work.

Maybe this Brave New World is good for a while, as I take the winter sober and mostly alone in order to approach hibernation by my standards. I’m still spinning all the plates. But at least I’m not obliterating myself on purpose at the same time. Maybe I’ll be able to take some of the plates and put them away soon. But… the party. Sometimes I miss it.

Two years ago today. Sheffield. I know none of these people’s names. We are wearing each other’s tops.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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