So that’s us all limping collectively into 2012 bearing our collective hangovers, if not of the alcoholic kind then the financial. My own Christmas and New Year involved me practising a whole lot of what I’ve been so preachy about – alcohol-free festive drinking.
Christmas morning started the same as my relatives around me: with bacon sarnies and Buck’s Fizz, the only difference being that mine had sparkling grape juice in lieu of some slightly more potent.
In the future we’ll all be cyborgs with specially adapted stomachs, capable of compacting food sufficiently to fit in an entire Christmas meal. But for this one, I had to make do with just eating continuously until I felt uncomfortable, and then carrying on for a while more anyway.
My sidekick on ‘project gluttony’ was a rather tasty alcohol-free wine from Sainsbury’s, which did a good job of filling in what miniscule cracks might have been left. Though lacking the robustness of a port, it complemented the cheese rather well, and felt like it was staining my mouth too, which somehow seemed important at the time.
Come the lazy, fat belly-stroking afternoon, I was being kept company by loved ones. By this I mean both my family, and cans of Bavaria’s far too-drinkable alcohol-free beer.
By Boxing day, and that curious cluster of days before New Year, my stomach had finally managed to regain enough real estate to accept some of the wonderful Christmas cake that my sister made, which turned out really great.
As a household, we also collectively had a go at IKEA’s Alcohol-free mulled wine, aka Glögg Alkoholfri. It was hot, sweet and spicy, which means it was as it should be, really, given that that’s pretty much the definition of mulled wine. The lack of tanins – it being based on fruit juice rather than de-alcoholised wine – meant that my brother-in-law enjoyed it too, despite his being a drinker. Enough of a drinker, in fact, to try and alcoholise Horlicks.
“Is there any room for a guest entry on your blog where I just take perfectly acceptable non-alcoholic drinks and add amaretto?” he asked.
Finally came New Year’s Eve, and time to celebrate another year of pretending I don’t feel superior to drinkers. And it’s true – I don’t (good at it, aren’t I?). A friend mine was holding a fancy dress party around the theme of heroes and villains, and some might argue that I was both: I came as the Simpsons character Duffman, effectively a Duff Beer version of the Malboro Man.
Well, actually it was Duff Zero Man, based on the alcohol-free Duff beer that came out during prohibition in Springfield, and arguably reversing the groups I was a hero and villain to. It was an outfit that took far more work to make than I’d thought it would. I even had to enlist parental help when I realised that, left to my own sewing skills, I was just going to look like I’d been assaulted by an angry pile of blue and red fabric. Dogsound’s design for a Duff can label came in handy, too, after some minor alterations to de-alcoholise it to Duff Zero.
Despite all that work, one person (a child, admittedly), still seemed disappointed by the fact I wasn’t yellow. I’m going to presume she meant that as a Simpsons reference, rather than cirrhosis of the liver.
To my complete surprise, I actually won the fancy dress contest. Rather than give a speech (which would only have consisted of the words ‘Awww Yeah’ anyway), I was asked to do my performing seal bit and dance for those gathered. There was a time when I’d have needed a few drinks to even consider doing something like that. But these days (following my dance mission to Colombia in 2010) I recognise that dignity on the dance floor is a luxury, not a right.
Besides, I defy anyone to tell me a better way to see in 2012 than dressing up as a cartoon character and dancing with Batgirl to Bohemian Rhapsody.
Happy New Year!