Tag Archives: drinking

Emerging from its chrysalis at last

hungover-cat-high-res

 

Today is publication day.  ‘The Very Hungover Caterpillar’ hits the shops and Emlyn and I had a cheeky breakfast to celebrate.  This morning, we were hungover free, I’m pleased to report, but it’s that time of year when the calendar starts to get full of events, parties and dinners.  I always think I won’t drink too much, but I invariably do.  So after years of experience, here’s my top ten tips to surviving the party season.

 

1.  Accept in advance that you’re in it from early December for the entire duration.   There’s no point in fighting it. You’ll finally get to collapse on Boxing Day. Be strong!
2.  A five pm powernap does wonders to restore a flagging spirit.  Insist on forty-five minutes of shut eye and you’ll be fresh as a daisy and ready to party on.
3.  To avoid illness, never party three nights in a row. Lock in rest days and evenings in your schedule.  You may find yourself filling them up (and they may well turn out to be the best party nights of all), but at least try to book in some sofa down-time.
4. Be a social butterfly, then you can flit between parties, or even slope off home.  In order not to get caught out, make it a rule never send emails or engage in social media after dark.
5. Girls:  Invest in those padded party insoles for your high heels and a pair of folding ballet pumps for when the night ends.  It’s amazing that you can dance all night in heels, but the second you have to stagger to the night bus or the last train, you can’t actually walk.
6. Become an account holder at a reputable cab firm now in November, or even better, stash your company’s account details in your phone so you can always get a cab home.
7.  Do all your Christmas shopping online early and get it delivered to somewhere where someone will be in to take the packages.  Keep a list in a safe place, reminding yourself of who gets what.  Share this list with your partner to avoid doubling up.  Don’t leave present buying until the last minute, when you’re frazzled and stressed out and always buy multiple ‘joke’ presents just in case, as you’ll always need them for the relative and friend you forgot, or the office secret santa.
8.  Make sure you you’re stocked up on bread, cheese and supernoodles for  the 2 a.m munchies.  Then, just before you go to bed drink as much water as you can possibly keep down.
9.  Perfect your own tailored hangover cure.  In this house, we favour Berocca, plus a massive fry up.  For those who know Brighton, only a Billie’s Cafe plate of hash will do.
10.  When all else fails, a hair of the dog does work wonders.  Try a Pickleback – one shot of Irish whiskey with one shot of pickle juice as a chaser.  It’s revoltingly harsh, but remember: you’ll be on the wagon in January.
Cheers!

 

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Working Lunch

I know I’m lucky to be a novelist, but I have to admit, sometimes I miss working in an office. Only because the lunches were so great.  Especially on Fridays.

Back in the days when I worked in Sales Promotion, flexing my literary talents by writing such copy gems as Honey Monster’s Soccer Pop-Up’s for the back of Sugar Puffs cereal boxes, we’d all down tools at lunchtime.   And even if there was a boardroom lunch and we had to stay in the building, it was always fun to nick sandwiches from the trays from the outside caterers, sneaking corners of coronation chicken from under the cling film.

But on Friday lunchtimes, we’d religiously pile into All Bar One to reward our week’s work with a big fat lunch and a couple of large glasses of chardonnay.   Oh, happy days.

The non-participation, non-event lunch is the writer’s curse. And the concept of a whole hour of free time in the day, outrageous.  You’d think since Emlyn and I both work at home and we’re kid-free at noon, that we’d slope off for long lunches, but the guilt is too great and the time for writing always too short.

But we still fantasize about lunch, like real working people do – usually from about 9.30am in my case.  But there’s no fancy ciabatta, or sun-dried tomato or salady nonsense round here.  Instead, ravenous at 1pm, we meet like cave-people down by the fridge to forage for last night’s leftovers.  Sometimes, we’ll splash out on some supermarket sushi, or take-away chips, but only on Fridays.

It’s not so bad now the sun has come out and we can eat our cold curry in the garden, but we eat and then get straight back to work.  Only yesterday, Emlyn was reminiscing about his old office lunch hours when he’d eat his sandwich in the park and ogle at all the girls for the other 58 minutes.  It’s not quite the same with just me.  And I don’t think my tracky bottoms are doing it for him.

But I have to admit that I get very jealous when I hear about people having a big corporate lunches.  Fancy being paid to do my favourite thing all the time.  I only get to have a lunch date once a month, if that.

We met a lovely MP on holiday last year who diets during August, because he has to attend so many big lunches the rest of the time.  I couldn’t bring myself to get the violins out.  And city boys are the worst culprits, although our rich friends say times are leaner these days.

But it’s not just them.  Publishers, of course,  are renowned for their lunching habits. There was once a fantastic panto at the end of the London Book Fair when a famous agent and publisher got up on stage to sing the ballad, ‘the long and winding lunch’, to the tune of The Beatles, ‘long and winding road’.  Never a truer word sung.

With that in mind, I’ve spent this week corrupting my fabulous new editor into a Friday  lunch date in May.  To be honest, it wasn’t that hard.  But I can’t wait.

In the meantime, my March lunch date is today.  (I’ll tell you about April’s exciting lunch plan in a future blog.)  I’m off to glam up to go to the AGM of ‘Rubbish Mothers’, an elite club of which I am a proud member.  It involves bunking off for a boozy lunch to a nice Thames-side restaurant with some wonderful girlfriends. Do I feel guilty?   Course I don’t.  The long and winding lunch and rubbish mothering go hand in hand.  Try it sometime.

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New Year Diet Resolution – Phooey!

 

How’s the detox going?  Rubbish?  Me too.  The Middle Of January.  It has to be a phenomenon.  This level of winter ennui.

We all feel we need to detox in January and I talked the talk in December.   Really, the intention was all there.  But I’m finding it considerably more difficult to walk the walk.

Detoxing is pants.  Officially. Especially when the weather is like this.  The kids come home from school tired and angsty and race around the house.  By the time they’re in bed, I’m frazzled.  I deserve a gin and tonic, surely?  One little measly glass of wine?  No?

The reward mentality of booze is a tough one to break for me.  I have every angle of reward covered. I even think that the government should reward people whose partners are detoxing.

We’re all in the same boat.  January started out like a giant willy-waggle of who has got the most self-control, but now everywhere I go, stressed looking people are getting through the January detox as if they’re clawing up the Eiger.  It’s like hitting ‘the wall’ during the marathon.

And it can’t be healthy.  In my experience, such levels of self-denial rarely lead to that break-through-the-clouds-sunshine-epiphany-moment.  The ‘Oh My God!  Who knew?  Life without caffeine, booze, cheese, chocolate, bread or butter is AMAZING.  I’m going to live like this ALL THE TIME.’

I sound cynical, but I fear that something has changed in me.  The burning desire I felt during most of my twenties and thirties to be thin (even though I wasn’t) seems to have waned now I’ve hit my forties.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to shift these three pounds of mince pie I’ve put on over Christmas, but somehow my desire is being outweighed by can’t be arsed-ness.

Is this what I read about in magazines?  Women in their forties declaring that they are happy with their figures and altogether more comfortable in their bodies?  Hmmm.  I notice it’s always the trim ones saying that.

The Sunday Times this week carried a new regime by the drop dead gorgeous Barbie-woman fitness guru, Tracy Anderson.  The draw of getting the know-how to get a figure like Gwynnie’s in a month was enough to get me to sign up to The Times online, so someone must have done their marketing right, to get an old couch potato like me motivated.

If Madonna can do it, so can I, right?  I used to disco dance back in the last century.

Anyway, I looked at this perfect blonde shiny girl demonstrating these exercises in the online video.  Her face didn’t move.  Seriously.  She looked like she was sitting on a commuter train.  Blank.  ‘This is so easy,’ her expression said.  ‘I can literally do it in my sleep.’

The video fazed in and out with ‘Reps 40’ in bold letters.  Yeah, so like, once you’re bored with that buttock crunch, do this one for forty reps.

40 repetitions?  You have got to be kidding.  Which human beings can do these exercises?  Show me them.

Oh yeah. Madonna and Gwyneth.

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The reluctant marathon runner

Apart from baking – at which I am shamefully hopeless – I like to think that I could probably do most things, or give them a go at least.  Sure, I’ll never be a nuclear scientist or a brain surgeon, unless vicariously through one of my characters, of course, but even then, I have no illusions. I’m not like one of those Holby actors who claim that it’s as if they’re really doing the operation.  Does anyone else find that really annoying?

However, in my time, I’ve scuba dived, become a qualified hang-glider, done up a house, I even changed a tire once.  But this time I’ve really gone one step too far.  I’ve signed up to do a marathon.

This seemed like a good idea, half a bottle – no, maybe more like – three-quarters of a bottle of wine down in the pub a few weeks ago.  When my lovely friend Sarz mentioned she was running to raise awareness and money for a brave little boy in her son’s class with a rare form of cancer, I started swaggering about, not to be outdone.  Sign me up.  I’ll do it.  Easy peasy.  After all, how hard can it be?  Worse than childbirth?  Worse than finishing a novel?  I think not.

Emlyn and the kids were horrified when I made the grand announcement.  My eldest, who is learning about Ancient Greece in school said, ‘But Mummy, the man who ran the first marathon got famous because he died.’  I reassured her that I’m not going to die.  There’s free energy drinks all the way round the route, apparently.

However, training for a marathon is not turning out to be easy peasy.  I’ve never done more than half hour mummy runs, followed by a restorative bacon sarnies, so there’s a fitness issue, obviously.  Yet worse than the sore legs and the time commitment to pounding the tarmac, it’s the inner battle that’s the hardest.  Because running is just so virtuous, so GOOD.  It’s bringing out my age-old smoking-behind-the-bikesheds mentality.  I don’t want to be a running bore.  I want to be cool.

But hang on, I’m a mother of three and now that I’m leaving my thirties behind, being healthy IS cool, right?   Running a marathon is a huge achievement.  A shining example to set to my three young daughters.

So why am I being so pathetic about it?  Seriously, I reckon I’ve drunk more since I started training than ever before.  I’m running with hang-overs, which is insane, heaving my carcass up the road, bleary-eyed in brand new kit with red wine stained lips.  It’s terrible.  And I’m avoiding the running club like the plague. I’ll marathon run away from the herd, thank you very much.  Ugh! I mean, there’s just something so sissy about men in lycra doing running stretches.  Give me the bad boy on the motorbike any day.

But I’m not backing out now.  Even though twenty-six miles, is quite frankly a big swear-word long way.  Oh my God.  Gimme a drink!

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