Monday, 28 December 2015

St Stephen's Night

I didn’t have to be asked twice when the brothers and their significant others suggested going out on St Stephen’s Night.  My Mam and the significant others had arranged babysitting and my brother nominated himself to be the Designated Driver.  AND we got a seat in the pub.  The Trinity of a perfect night out for a 40-something Momma who doesn’t get out often.

Before we took off out, I got a good dose of The Guilts from The Boy.  A really, really sad face asked me not to go.  Well, actually, it was more like begging.  There were tears.  I stood firm and promised that I would be home ‘soon.’  He wanted a finite answer on what ‘soon’ meant.  I lied and said ’11.30’, knowing that I would probably break my curfew.   I reasoned with him that I was entitled to a play-date of sorts too.  I felt like a teenager getting the inquisition.  All that was missing was him reviewing my outfit and saying, ‘you aren’t going out in that.’   As it happened, I didn’t pack too well for myself (nothing new there) and my potentially slinky outfit was compromised by the addition on a kidney-warming black vest to cover up a not so reveal-able white bra.   So The Boy had no worries in that department.

Le Pub of choice was an old haunt of mine years ago and I expected to see the familiar faces.  I was disappointed with how few people I recognised at first, but a steady trickle appeared throughout the night.  And bless my innocence, I didn’t realise that a clatter of people I knew were in the smoking area, but I didn’t like any of them enough to spend my night in a haze of smoke.  A Russell night out wouldn’t be the same without a gathering of the cousins.  As the years go on, there are more family and work commitments, so the numbers have dwindled, but we found a few along the way and the gene pool was well represented on the night.
Our seats were near the door to the toilets and the exits, so it was the perfect people watching point.  My inner Gok Wan goes into overdrive.  Thinking that some girls should wear what suits them, rather than what was fashionable.  Thinking that some of them could have done with my kidney warming vest that also had the smoothing-it-all-out effect.  Envious of the young ones that just looked gorgeous.  The ones that had time to do their hair.  My eyes, and everyone else’s following the long-legged ones all the way to the door.  

Waiting at the bar to be served, a guy gave me a wink, ‘Howya.’   I reminded him that he knew me from school.   The spark of recognition kicked in.  ‘Jaysus, you have improved with age’.
A gang of lads took over the middle of the pub, celebrating their friend’s Christmas visit from Oz.

I spotted someone early on in the night who was a son of one of my father’s friends.  He has lived abroad for years.  I wondered if he would recognise me or my brothers.  Curiosity got the better of me and I asked him at the end of the night if he knew who I was.  He didn’t.  ‘’I’m John Russell’s daughter.’  A gasp of surprise, he hugged me so tight, I thought that he might crush my ribs.  He had heard about my father’s death.  His memories of how our families intertwined were very similar to mine, but he also had stories about my father that I had never heard before.  We promised to meet again.  I also met a school friend who had recently nursed her father before his death.  More hugs and a few tears.  A shared moment of how our respective Christmas’s were this year, without needing to say too much.
One of the brothers fell asleep in Le Pub, which at this stage is as traditional for him as pulling the Christmas crackers.  He was dispatched home, via the chipper.  Meanwhile, the significant others made the executive decision that the gals and honorary girl, my cousin Ken were going to Le Discotheque.  A bit of long overdue dancing for the disco divas.  Designated Driver brother was on speed dial to pick us up whenever we wanted.  Could this night get any better ??

I hadn’t been in this particular establishment in about ten years.  It was a kip then and it’s even more of a kip now.  In fact, the toilets looked identical to the last time I was there.  All that it had going for it is an opportunity for a late night drink and a boogie.  
When we arrived, the place was flipping freezing.  With a e10 admission fee, wouldn’t you think that they could have turned the heat to ‘on?’  Or maybe a gal who felt the cold so badly should have been at home in her leaba, guilt free, with Her Boy ?  I felt justified in drinking the mini bottle of wine that I had sneaked in from Le Pub.  No point in wasting it, huh ?  If it was a pint, I would have looked for cling film for transporting the drink from one place to another. 

I didn’t recognise most of the dance music and felt like an old codger, but danced anyway to stay warm.  Even the kidney-warming vest didn’t help.  As the night moved on, the music got better and the stragglers straggled in.  The body heat kept us going. 

I met more school friends, three gorgeous sisters who knew my Da.  We laughed at how alike our fathers were.  They unanimously declared that my father was a ‘legend’ and I felt inclined to agree. 
An eejit lit up a cigarette on the dance floor.  The bouncers were on him as quick as a flash and I  wondered if he was 1. that drunk 2. that desperate for a fag ?

I was glad of the afore mentioned kidney-warming vest as the zip on the back of my trousers, proved slightly unreliable for dancing and I needed a bit of extra fabric coverto save any unnecessary exposure of flesh.
The guy from Le Pub who told me earlier that I had improved with age appeared in Le Discothèque.  He was now fairly sozzled and didn’t seem to recognise me anymore.  Or maybe I had dis-improved with age as the night went on ?

My bro, the Designated Driver, the 6 foot angel-with-a-Mohawk appeared as promised, as we were asked ‘are you right there folks’ ?  Various child car seats were manoeuvred and a clatter of us piled into the people carrier.   
The Boy asked me the following day what time I got home at.  I lied again.  The only 3.30 timeframe that he understands is home time from school.  He had sat up with his auntie Sue until 1am the night before waiting for my return, until tiredness got the better of them both.  The Girl meanwhile, was so busy enjoying herself that she had barely noticed me gone. 

The head was a bit ropey and the knees felt a bit shaky the next day.  Was it worth it ?  Hell yeah ! And as for the vest. 
All hail the vest.

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