New Year, Old News

2015 has arrived in the usual unexciting, mundane New Year’s kind of way. January offers little and takes a lot; we get a new series of Celebrity Big Brother’s human hamster cage in exchange for giving up Cadbury’s chocolate and bad men or Cadbury’s chocolate on bad men depending on your taste buds.

In the dying months leading up to a new year we indulge in alcohol, yule logs and Bruce Forsyth’s ghostly face only just visible on the latest Strictly Come Walking. We allow ourselves to parade around in reindeer onesies with wine-stained teeth safe in the knowledge that next year, we could run for the president of the United States of America.

In December, we decide to make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It takes a while to start writing as our E.T looking hands fiddle with a pen that we haven’t held since 1997 until we get into the rhythm of writing. Optimism begins to flow as we imagine marital bliss on the beaches of Mexico having secretly eloped with a bigamist George Clooney. We see our dreams coming true because a new year allows for change and we can morph ourselves into anything; we could wake with Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

Most people opt for the obvious; dieting or sucking on anything other than cigarettes. Others decide it is time to throw caution to the wind and do obscene, nearly-time-to-be-sectioned kind of things like botox and growing moustaches. Just remember that we have to be realistic when deciding; Madonna’s armpit hair was grown for artistic purposes and should never be imitated as part of our New Year feminist empowerment.

With the lists ready and January coming to unpack a hamper full of success and orgasms, we wait patiently until it begins. We cram in any last minute gorging of cheesecake and One Direction because after, we shall no longer be these sad, depressing, I-heart-Harry kinds of people.

All of last year’s disappointments are left behind as we try to forget exes, the World Cup and the continued existence of Kanye West. We can disregard the momentary joy we felt that Take That might finally be breaking up and the chance that X Factor would fall further than Louis Walsh’s reputation as a talent spotter. 2014 is long gone and we no longer have time for it.

So here she is one and all. Her majesty, January, with nothing but rain keeping you wet when you would rather it came from elsewhere. We’re only a week or so in and we could still marry Prince Harry, travel to Jamaica on a banana boat and befriend King Kong but maybe one less tube of Pringles on our hips may be a slightly more realistic prospect.

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Tip-ping Me Over the Edge

I refuse to tip in restaurants and I’m not sorry. Why is it after we’ve paid a David Cameron style wage on food that we really could have just microwaved at home, we’re supposed to hand over ‘loose change’ to someone who has barely acknowledged our existence for an hour? Hold me hostage and feed me meat-filled burgers until I pay up because otherwise my purse will stay firmly shut. It’s become this strange legal kind of mugging where they stand before you ready and waiting as though you’re drowning in money and they have to somehow relieve you.  

I can understand that waiters and waitresses have a difficult job; cleaning up some mutated spaghetti mess is hard for even the no-gag-reflexing individual. However, they’re not the only ones that ‘serve’ people. In retail, you don’t walk up to a till point and add a tip to the payment of a crop top, in fact you’d be completely outraged and stroll out with an air of ingratitude. So I’m struggling how after a quick Mr Muscle wipe of the table and a plate of chips I’m expected to hand over my flat keys as a substitute for my lack of tip just so I can escape through the side exit.

The worst part of the whole ‘dining out’ experience is the expectation at the end. It’s an Oliver Twist style moment where ‘more sir’ really wouldn’t be an exaggeration. We all want more money but by giving me a glass of coke and a toothy smile really isn’t the way to go about it. Here’s a prime example of exactly why I’m not willing to give up my week’s earnings on someone who probably chucks hangers on me when walking out of a high street fitting room.

When I was out for dinner the other evening, I requested a vegetarian meal. As abnormal as that is for a waitress to hear that vegetarians really do exist and they’re not just an urban myth, she asked me if I was ‘sure’ that is what I want. Pondering this for a whole second of my life, I proceeded to tell her that yes, after eleven years of Quorn and Tofu, I was extensively sure that my choice was one that I would not later regret. When she left, we waited for forty minutes without our drink order although I’d asked numerous times emphasising the ‘please’ in case I got the whole saliva-in-burger drama. When the dinner arrived, it was a chicken dish that smelt of farmyard manure and a breaded Chicken Run character. After huffing and puffing like an overheating, constipated fish, she eventually replaced it with a salad that I, once again, didn’t order.

            At the end of the meal, my Nan decided to tip six pounds for her ‘enthusiasm’. She had as much ‘enthusiasm’ as a funeral director in a labour room. I kicked up what can only be described as a ‘hormonal’ raucous until my Nan told me that ‘its rude not to tip’. I need this explained to me because for the love of all that is food, I was given a bird to eat.

Call me the wicked witch of the west but my point is true; service is service and it shouldn’t be one rule for one and one rule for another. Receiving great service is a joy but it isn’t one that deserves reward because at the end of the day, they’re getting paid. You may argue that it’s ‘stressful’ and ‘busy’ in restaurants but it is too, in a shop or in an underground station or on a bus. These people don’t play the puppy dog eyes and almost splutter into your soup when you give them nothing. It’s not about politeness because I will engage in conversation in the very typically English way where we evaluate the ‘awful weather’ and I will always say my please and my thank you. But I wonder, when did a heart-felt thank you become a metaphor for I’m-a-tight-fisted-pessimist? It’s about time we all admitted that it’s tipping us over the edge.

 

A Vow of Alcohol Celibacy

There is nothing worse than alcohol. I’ll be the first to admit it and I’ll probably be the last. Everyone talks about vodka-induced nights out as though they didn’t end with their hair dripping half way into a toilet but the reality is just that. It’s about time we all admitted that tequila is the leading cause in those dreaded wake-up-to-find-a-hairy-beast-of-a-man one night stands.  

The issue is that alcohol always starts as a good idea. No one thinks they’ll end the night half-naked at the bottom of their stairs because a striptease really did sound like a great idea. You believe that the world is, for the first time, your oyster. You can have anything you want regardless of expense or logic. If you want to dangle off the side of Ruby Blue’s balcony at half three on a nipple-decreasing Tuesday, you can do it. It’s only after drinking enough to sink the Titanic that you begin to understand that dribbling without knowing it is the least attractive thing since the mankini. It’s at this moment that you start to forget why tongues weren’t created for sordid kisses at the back of Yates and your friends despair at ever having known you.

In the process of drunkenness, we seem to lose all self-respect and do things that no human should ever do with or without a mature adult’s consent. I have unfortunately lost all dignity and bared my unshaven forest-like hairs on my thighs to an elderly gentleman on the ninety four bus. Others tend to scream their way into the Guinness World Records for being the most intoxicated person since Justin Beiber’s arrest.

I can’t deny that I have been one of these people. I have been all Bambi legs and Mr Bean dance moves whilst trying to chat up the Tottenham Hale bus driver post-Weatherspoons. I have been denied access from Leicester Square Burger King for being, in the burly security guard’s words, ‘drunk and disorderly’ and I have been known for the odd shot contest that ends with me hugging a chair and declaring my undying love for it. However, this happens once a year and for this, I am truly grateful.

For some people, hangovers are a myth. There’s no passing of the bucket or crying into the toilet bowl of shame; just a casual shower to soak away the memories of the night before.

For others, we wallow in self-pity and suffer in no silence. The day consists of head-pounding, toe-curling, vomit-inducing pains that make you want to give up life and surrender forever. It is a time when not even George Clooney’s naked self could bring you back to earth as you once knew it.

It is because of these reasons that I refuse to wear a vagina-skimming miniskirt and drown my tonsils in anything that has a percentage sign on the bottle. There will be no smudged mascara down my cheek and I refuse to sit on Santa Claus’ knee at the Christmas party. It’s all so mortifyingly embarrassing that someone has to take a vow of alcohol celibacy and declare themselves married to the joys of middle-aged hot drinks like Ovaltine and warm milk. I do take this vow.