Lockdown is over! Let’s get pissed in town…’, my friend Hayley announced to the girls over the house party app. ‘It’s been way too long’.
‘It’s been 84 years’, I crooned reminiscently, like old Rose from Titanic.
Becky refused to go to Wetherspoons ‘cos – Tim Martin, innit – so we landed in Duke Street.
I turned up slightly merry because I’d been on furlough and so the gin started in the afternoon.
The place was rammed with middle aged men with balding heads standing behind open doors and parting ways to let us through, as if lining the streets at royalty passing though. We scratched our heads at their chivalry and wondered ‘What year is this?’ before one of them pulled us back down to earth with – ‘social distancing luv’.
We received a text from Liz. She was having anxiety about coming out due to
eating her house down during isolation and feared she would now require a fork lift truck to lift her out of her bed via the front window.
Eventually, we air kissed. We all wanted to hug each other but paranoia loomed and Liz still hadn’t recovered from her neighbour outing her online by filming her on a see-saw at the local children’s park when it wasn’t an ‘essential’ outing. None of us rocked the boat by mentioning the fact that Liz didn’t even have kids so what the actual feck was she doing. That afternoon drinking is a terrible thing, you know.
We ordered wine. Bottles of wine. Ruth declared that she was sticking to soft drinks and we all shot suspicious sidelong glances at each other that the only rational reason for sobriety was pregnancy. We’d all heard about the predicted baby boom after lockdown, but not one of us had a fucking clue how you could think about possibly wanting more offspring after spending 13579 days making paper rainbows and trying to find out what an adverbial phrase of time is on google classroom. Maybe Ruth was also now just an alcoholic and was in therapy.
Our ‘catch-up’ involved us talking about how Ruth celebrated her 40th in Casa El Kitchen with her own spinning decks (2 plates). We drank more wine and began to get a bit of rhythm. Liz started doing a few lunges to the music and we all wondered if she was demonstrating her Joe Wicks exercise routine. A couple of weirdos on their 8th pint started grinning at her across the room and then tried to reel her in with imaginary fishing equipment . We wondered when we would ever return to normal and just shake hands.
Bex insisted on taking a photo of us all for the ‘gram but when she showed it to us, we were all mortified that we all now resembled something from an 1980’s sitcom.
Speaking of ‘The Young Ones’, I decided that we should all head to Imperial for old times sake, despite having never set foot in Imperial bar in my life because I am ….old.
We danced in Imperial amongst tiny waisted girls because …life’s too short, innit. Unlike our skirts.
I drank my 5th glass of wine and this one tipped me over the edge slightly. I shimmered my way onto the dancefloor, unable to escape the rhythm, and moved through the crowd of boys at Jungle Jims. The alcohol took care of my dance moves. I noticed a couple of teenage boys grinning with admiration at my shapes on the dancefloor. They whispered something to each other and then appeared to make their mind up about something before they started filming me.
I suddenly become aware that I was the object of their amusement and I began to get teary. Ruth made a few appearances and suggested that I’d had too much to drink and that it was time to go home. I snarled at her boringness and then began emptying the contents of my sloppy head onto Bex. I became emotional about my Great Granny Iris because I’d missed her so much during quarantine. ‘Mel, your Great Granny Iris died in 2016’. Oh.
The night eventually came to an end because Hayley insisted that we were all definitely going home, and she threw me into the nearest cab. I smiled dreamily, resting my dizzy head on the window, my head full of memories of my amazing dancing, my new beautiful friends , our hugs and spilled drinks, and then suddenly, my mind was blank
The next morning, the beer fear kicked in and I wondered how the fuck I navigated my way into my own bed. I was at least thankful that a hangover McDonalds was now available.
The key, I’d always figured with hangxiety, is to act as if everything was as it should be.
‘Oh God, how do you feel?’ Hayley asked when I answered the phone.
‘Great’, I lied, worrying at my fingernails.
‘Great?’, she sounded surprised.
I’d feeling fairly certain that I’d been a merry but fun person the night before, but now her tone was planting a seed of doubt in my mind.
‘You were hammered last night’, she informed me.
‘I know’, I agreed.
‘Do you remember telling Ruth that you thought her boyfriend is a bit of a nob ..?’, she asked.
‘Ahhh, yes (NO!).’, I lied breezily. I wanted to fly off to another country very, very far away.
‘…and you wouldn’t leave at the end of the night…’
‘…and you went missing own for about an hour and we all looked everywhere for you and we found you on the dance-floor, on your own, Jumping around like an ostrich that had been shot. I think there is a video of you on …..
OH, MAKE IT STOP.
‘And then we saw your boss in the taxi rank and you nearly fell asleep on her. And you told her you were going to furlough her…. ‘
OH DEAR GOD…
‘I’m sorry, I really am. I’m not safe to be let out’, I apologised profusely. ‘It had just been a while, you know…. I don’t feel a bit well. I will stay in tonight. Chill out. Take an aspirin. Get a bath. Put a facemask on.’
‘There’s no need for that extremity, Mel. The lockdown is over’.
Yeah, well. Maybe for my own wellbeing, in future, perhaps I should just #Stayhome’.