A Few Scoops

Are you – as they say in Irish drinking slang – going for ‘a few scoops’ this Christmas? Of course you are, most of us will be at some stage. The work-do, family meal out (or in), an annual girls or guys get-together; I’m sure there will be an offer, or an opportunity to let your hair down. Be careful out there, though, it can be a jungle! The land of the Christmas party can be like riding an open top Land Cruiser on safari when the lions have had slim pickings for some time. They could eat you up.

Last night was ‘Black Eye Friday’. Ok, maybe it is next Friday for some, but, because of when Christmas lands, apparently a lot of big groups were heading out last night. I don’t know how long the distasteful name has been around, but I first heard it called that 12 years ago by A. back in Belfast. I think he was a recipient of one (a black eye) and that’s how he knew. It’s the Friday before Christmas when most office parties are said to take place. Supposedly, the term ‘black eye’ was born out of the unusually high number of fights that break out when the drink is in and the wit is out, when festering gripes or office rivalries come to the surface, when the fences are down and carefully marked boundaries are blurred. Festivities might have started in the office before those who are brave, foolish, or young enough head out to hit the pubs, clubs and streets. And so the good old ‘Christmas Do’ – disastrously made up of colleagues specifically designed not to socialise together – becomes the ‘Christmas Don’t’. It’s the perfect social recipe to curdle brandy-butter.

Someone told me a joke the other day. I laughed, not because it was funny, but because it was stupid and delivered to me in good humour, knowingly silly. It goes like this: A man walks into a bar and says to the barman, do you want to hear an Irish joke? The barman says, “Not really, I am Irish.” The other man says, “That’s ok, I’ll speak really, really slowly.” I reckon that’s the sort of joke that could (literally) kick things off at a Christmas Do. So keep your wits about you and stay cool.

 I hope your party was, or will be, fun and good-humoured. I hope you’ve not woken up this morning with a sore head. If it is a little sore, I hope it’s the effect only of a few drinks too many and not a shiner from loose words. I’ll leave you with the wise-cracking Dorothy Parker, American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, who gently warned us off drinking to excess, with the reminder: “A hangover is the wrath of grapes.”

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