Monday, January 3, 2011

London's calling

Well it's January, that gorgeous time of the year when you know you're still three months from spring, night falls at 4pm, you have no money AT ALL and the last thing you want to do is join a gym. Seems like a bad idea to be making resolutions on top of it all and depriving yourself of the only things likely to get you through the next few weeks (those being chiefly chocolate, carbs and wine.) So I am making no resolutions at all this year. Especially as there is a family pack of chocolate eclairs that I'm still working my way through as well as a few leftover bottles from a little drinks party a few weeks ago. The only reason they are lying untouched is because we have been in London for Christmas and New Year.

The highlights were a white Christmas (well an icy one,) London's New Year fireworks and the parties, of which there were many. All the friends we stayed with have been to stay here with us and wanted to make us feel really welcome, so they all threw parties in our honour on arrival. However when you have all your worldly belongings, two kids and two dogs in the back of the Jeep and you are moving on average once every 24 hours to a new destination, any interest in parties starts to wane and is replaced by a desperate yearning to get to sleep before 2am, watch at least one Chistmas TV special and not retire to bed on one bottle of Chablis minimum.

The highlights were two uniformed police officers arriving at Clare and Nick's soiree at 3am to tell us to turn the music down, only to be offered a glass of port and a plate of cake crumbs by a slightly inebriated hostess, which they politely declined. One of them was barely out of his teens but still recognised Joy Division, which restored my faith in the men in blue and the youth of today in one fell swoop. Most impressive of all was that a bunch of 40-somethings can still party hard and loud enough to upset the neighbours and I am wearing that as a badge of honour. I did think they were strippers at first but thankfully kept that thought to myself.

Equally impressive was Belinda and Grant's pre-NY eve karaoke party at which Grant, who most days can be caught at the House of Commons talking a lot of sense in his role as Housing Minister, gave what can only be described as a faultless rendition of the best rap song ever, Rappers Delight. It's nine minutes long and he gave the Sugarhill Gang a run for their money without missing a beat. Respect. Grant, I am listening to it now stone cold sober and I still don't know how you did it. It's enough to make me want to vote Tory. Much Champagne was imbibed and a certain handyman, who had made me promise not to drag him anywhere near the mike, was the first up on the floor waving his pink wand in his hand, and the last to leave. Hmmm, he doth protest too much.

The Barcombe village drinks party was also enlivened by the strength of Sarah's home-made prosecco, pomegranate, gin and elderflower cocktails. A lovely drink providing you do not need to get up for a week. Many poor souls had to cook their turkey a mere 36 hours later. And last but not least, Norma and Tony's NY eve party in London, where Katie's iPod playlist ensured that everyone was up on the dancefloor all night and it seemed like a good idea to carry on until 4.30am, at which point I realised that we were leaving for Calais a few hours later. At least I didn't have to drive (Iain had to justify his secret sloping off for a 1am bedtime somehow, the lightweight.)

I will gloss over the hideous journey from France to Lewes (21 hours, most of which was spent queueing for a ferry after the Eurotunnel joined the shameful ranks of Eurostar and many UK airports in being unable to handle passengers due to an electricity failure.) And the 14 hour journey home on NY Day (seemed like such a good idea at the time but no, NEVER AGAIN) which has negated any need for a silly NY resolution like avoiding alcohol. Christmas shopping in Brighton two days before Christmas day when most people have spent a week snowed in was also not a good idea for future ref. And thinking it would be fun to take the dogs (180 euros in vets fees and train tickets) only to spend two weeks being covered with grimy footprints every time we let them out of the car for a pee.

Thanks to everyone who gave us food and shelter as we trundled around the snowbound UK looking like the Clampits and getting stuck daily in motorway gridlock. I have worked out that we spent as long in the car as we did out of it. So Bar sur Loup it is next Christmas.

Next week it's La Plagne to interview the best young snowboarders and skiers in Europe for Disney. Now that's what you call snow.