New Year is a strange one.
It’s a time of heightened introspection; when we are tempted to look back on what we have achieved and then make a mental list of all those things that we are supposed to tick off over the next dozen months.
Combine this with an odd assortment of left over Christmas drinks… of the kind that are only bought around this time of year – Advocaat, Tia Maria, Kahlua, Ginger Wine, Sambuca with a flaming coffee bean in it, Tequila with worms in it, Vodka with flakes of gold in it – and you are begging for trouble. If you go down that route, you shouldn’t be surprised when you wake up in your neighbours’ children’s garden playhouse; in a foetal position, dressed as Agnetha Fältskog.
It’s no way to usher in the New Year.
And it’s no way to impress your neighbours. Or their children.
That is why it was felt necessary for The Ocelot to step in and hold out a furry paw of guidance. We’ve done all the drinking and made all of the dreadful decisions so that you don’t have to.
Rule 1: Avoid fireworks – It makes perfect sense to avoid anything involving fire and explosives generally, and yet for some reason that slightly charred rulebook is thrown out of the window over New Year. Just because the fire and explosions come in a variety of different colours is no reason to ignore the voices in your head that are telling you to hit the dirt and crawl for cover. Trust dogs. They know what’s going on. If you see them bugging out, you should do the same. In fact you should always do what dogs do, up to and including licking your own genitals.
Rule 2: Avoid any food involving boiling hot cheese. Fondue is not a quirky and sociable way to share time with good friends. It’s actually a high-calorie form of Russian Roulette.
A moment’s lost concentration can see a lump of bread shimmering with burning liquid Gouda slipping neatly down your gullet, cauterising every nerve ending on its agonisingly slow passage down your oesophagus – forcing you to draw your silent inner scream into the rough shape of an interested smile as Gillian and Ian explain how they made a fortune by selling their home in Reading after buying it for a song when the housing market collapsed in 2008. “Mmmm excellent.. (neeaarrrrrgggghhhh) solid (fuuuuuuukk) investment.. (shiiiit the beeed) you must be delighted.”
Rule 3: Avoid strangers: New Year is no time to get to know anyone new.
This is possibly the most important rule – apart from the thing about the burning hot cheese.
During the planning stage, if anyone suggests inviting that quiet lonely man from across the way to your wine and nibbles buffet you should immediately shout them down at the top of your voice. There’s almost certainly a good reason he ‘keeps himself to himself’. He will probably involve you in one of those conversations where he lets you in on his ‘between you, me and the gatepost’ solution to the growing problems of inner city knife crime. He may also have the severed head of a hitchhiker in that Sainsbury’s bag for life that he carries around with him wherever he goes. Just stick to tried and tested friends.
Rule 4 (a): Prepare an exit/ejection strategy: Even as dongs of Big Ben hang in the air, you want to be heading smoothly out of the door, hand reaching out for your carefully pre-positioned coat as the other works on the door latch. It’s important that you agree this with companions beforehand to avoid any last minute conversational quicksand. According to Newton’s Fourth Law of Motion, any party goer who is at rest past midnight will remain in a state of inertia unless acted upon by another mass with sufficient inertia to shift both of their asses out into the cold night air.
This is important because there has not been a single recorded instance of a party becoming more fun beyond the stroke of midnight… ever.
Rule 4 (b): It’s slightly different if the party is at your house. There will almost certainly be someone there who has not heard of Rule 4 (a) and can be seen loading up his/her plate with another slice of olive tapernade smeared bruschetta and pouring out a shot of vodka with gold flakes in it. Rapid and, if necessary, violent action needs to be taken if you are going to have any hope of getting rid of them before sunrise.
Your initial play should include a multi-pronged approach involving turning off the heating and pointedly offering coffee whilst loudly yawning and beginning to reminise about what a great evening it was.
If this does not work you should immediately go to DEFCON 1 and deploy the vacuum cleaner… on their faces… screaming ‘Get out of my house!’.
If they are so far gone that they fall unconscious, physically drag them out of the house and deposit them inside the next door neighbours’ children’s garden playhouse.