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How (possibly not) to celebrate New Year's Eve

By Spalding Today Columnist

Another year almost gone, we now look forward to the next one, with people possibly hoping for great or better expectations, although time will tell on that.

I heard recently from somebody who had attended their annual company Christmas dinner and having been to a few over the years, I can sympathise with some of the comments about this more recent one, as I remembered assorted events that could possibly match his for the ‘beyond belief’ or ‘geddaway’ factor shared by those present as in short, his was a ‘right belter’ it seems.

I didn’t bother lowering the mood by offering my input, but it did jar the mind to the one and only New Year's Eve lunch I have (so far...) attended that was brought about by the company Christmas dinner event or rather the one we didn’t have, as this was sort of ‘in lieu of’ so to speak, but all due to our dear, devoted and caring boss, Rocky - not her real name but one that was immediately accepted by all the staff as being, well, ‘about right’ for her and her supposed talents.

John ready for a mission into the unknown (6242153)
John ready for a mission into the unknown (6242153)

Caring, dedicated, never one to shirk her responsibilities, loyal and if you ever wanted a helping hand or just a smile at the ‘right time’, these were just some of the qualities she never, ever possessed, bless her.

Her husband used to say that he 'loved her to bits - and she cares a lot for me’ (the exact lot of was not specified) as he once pulled out a small piece of paper she had written it down on for him to repeat or remember if he forgets, as he also used to lose his car keys quite regularly.

She was the organiser of anything and everything company social-wise regardless - from a lash-up to a full-blown catastrophe, she was the one we all looked to at such times - when it all went wrong (nearly always), she was not about at the given time, did not see anything go wrong or untoward or was even aware of.

So this is how we came to have a company New Year's Eve lunch, as take a wild guess who forgot/had an ‘executive malfunction’ - OK, she forgot - to book a venue for the company Christmas dinner, although as with those brave enough to comment, it only happens once a year,, so really not much advance warning.

Being a ‘New Year’s Eve lunch’ bash/event held slight problems, as it was held - now would you believe - over a lunchtime, but we were actually on our holiday at that time, hence not a lot turned up (as might be expected), although our Rocky - bless - thought differently of course, as she set it up and created a whole new event in the process.

The venue chosen was a pub ‘turned restaurant’. At the time, it had just been redecorated, possibly the first since the reign of William the Conqueror, although it was suggested the ‘ornate spears’ on the walls were not merely decorations but left over from the last rip-roaring party-goers. In the Sixteenth Century, possibly.

The build-up/partially-controlled hysteria for the event from mid-December onwards crept nearer, but more and more people were declaring themselves unavailable. Harry went the whole hog and booked a cruise - so as to be away on the high seas at the chosen time - while others felt it would be good for a laugh at least, although I went along purely to see how organised chaos is run (again), but more so with Rocky at the helm.

The deal: the company would pay for the meal, the first glass of wine ‘to toast the New Year in’ - despite there were a few hours before that happened traditionally later on; much later on - as some shook their watches to see if they were still functioning and in some cases, they were indeed still working.

The meal was perhaps better than the previous year’s Christmas effort (it was rumoured a charity wanted a photo of it for a ‘War on Waste’ poster). However, sitting near to Rocky, we collectively were able to glean assorted comments from the lady herself - or if not her, her ‘trusted assistant’ who conveyed her observations. In one instance, she thought the food was ‘a real belter’ as she was going to have (quote) 'Another dollop of them roasties (potatoes) even if I have to adjust my body foundation assistance aid' but we got it more in basic translation from her assistant ‘Baldrick’ (our Delia, in her best earrings): ‘She is going to adjust her corset by a few notches - we could be witnessing a unique case of ‘middle age spread’ happening before our eyes'.

After hearing that, the collective interest in the dessert menu plummeted due south.

As the New Year's Eve lunch concept was new to us or anybody passing by for that matter, nobody knew exactly what was coming afterwards, but Rocky had thought of that as well, as a trio (musicians, three of) appeared from nowhere or behind the screens at the back of the room, then started belting out Auld Lang Syne on drums, keyboard and trumpet.

Some went to get their coats on, thinking it was ‘home time’ already, but were pulled/herded back, as there was more suffering, nay enjoyment, to come yet - indeed, attempted escape was futile.

Rocky got up and wandered onto the now-cleared-of-tables wooden polished floor to gyrate in some unknown (to us anyway) dance form, quite possibly an Aztec tribal burial ritual dance, as she looked at everyone as she shouted those feared words: ‘Come on then! - join in!’ as people's faces froze over.

She always wore really hard, block heels, shoe-wise, and when she walked, it sounded like hammers tapping, but an impoverished flamenco dancer might have given his best surplus to requirements set of castanets to have clicking heels like hers - so amid the ‘band’ playing their arrangement of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, you could hear the tap-tapping of her heels accompanying them, uncredited it's true, but she was doing her bit indirectly.

This went on till about five o’clock, as the pub manager kept sticking his head around the corner to see how it were going - he was worried as he was supposed to be getting the room ready for a party, with real die-hard revellers arriving for the real New Year's Eve bash later that evening, although most of us were thinking we ought to be leaving, as the trio were now repeating their small repertoire. After three renditions of ‘Delilah’, it starts to get boring.

Then, to put us out of our misery, Rocky clicked her way into the middle of the floor, tap-tapping as she went, then shouted out: Right you lot! - a happy New Year to us all!’ as she rose her glass, tilted her neck backwards and poured it down in one unrestricted cascade - and to think Harry on his cruise in the Indian Ocean missed it all.

But lunch or not, do have a Happy New Year yourself.


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