Royden couldn’t wait for the most horrible year in his life to finish.
“Simply everything that could go wrong has gone wrong this year,” said Royden. “The car was written off. I lost my job. The pandemic sent us into lockdown. The pet budgerigar escaped. Great-aunt Constantia died and left her substantial savings not to us but to the Pamper a Hamster Society.”
“Never mind, Dear,” said Crystal his wife. “A new year is about to begin. We can make a new beginning.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Royden.”Things couldn’t get worse. I’ll tidy the backyard for a hope-filled New Year’s Eve celebration!”
New Year’s Eve arrived! They began to celebrate. Royden got hopelessly inebriated and retired early to bed.
Danielle lived in a block of apartments on her own. There were about forty apartments all together. It was Christmas Eve and Danielle had planned to catch a plane and fly to her parent’s home for Christmas. Bad weather cancelled all flights.
She was wondering what to do and thought she had better get to the supermarket to buy something to celebrate with – a bottle of wine and a few slices of something nice. She had just set out in the corridor when she bumped into Bernard.
“I thought you were going home for Christmas,” he said.
“Same here,” said Bernard. “Look, why don’t we share the Christmas meal? In fact, why don’t we leave a note at every apartment door saying if you’re alone this Christmas bring you food to my apartment and we’ll all celebrate together.”
It was an excellent idea. Danielle printed off a pile of invitations and she and Bernard went around the apartment building. They planned what to do if a number turned up on Christmas day. So far they have had a response from eleven people. If it’s anymore they’ll be spilling the party out into the corridor.
Interviewer: What a thrill! I have the opportunity to interview Silenus. Silenus is an old drunkard who taught Dionysus how to party. Dionysus is the Ancient Greek God of Wine. Silenus himself is the God of Dance, the God of the Wine Press, and the God of Drunkenness.
Good evening, Silenus. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
Silenus: My pleashure. It’s not often I can afford to take time out from dwinking to indulge in a bit of interfornification, if that’s what ya call it. I had to shneak away from Dionysus to do thish interview. Last time I shneaked away he changed this guy’s ears into donkey’s ears. At leasht that’s what I remember. Dwink? It’s not just wine I’m the god of but other shtuff as well like whishkey and vodka. Shherry. When I go to the dwink shhop I always look at the label not to see what type of booze it is but to check on the alcoholic percentage. That’s why I’m not fond of beer. Ya have to dwink a lot of beer to get dwunk and then I end up pisshing in my pants half the night. Not that I wear pantsh as ya can see. So how ya doing?
Interviewer: I’m fine thanks. And I was wondering if…
Silenus: One of the things people don’t know is that mosht of the gods up here are fucking pisshheads. Pisshhead is a Britishh term meaning ya get totally dwunk mosht daysh. It’s alsho used in Aushtralia and placesh like that. So anyway, mosht of the gods up here are pisshheads. I taught mosht of them how to party – it’s my job – but a good number of them these days know how to party a lot more than I taught them. Aphrodite has her work cut out all day every day and there’s not much I taught her I can tell ya. When I vishit her she’s busy busy busy. I don’t know how she fits everyone in.
Interviewer: Do you still operate in teaching people how to party today or was it something you did only in ancient times?
Silenus: I’m busy in the modern world. I did a good job on Hunt…
(The interview seems to have been suddenly and mysteriously terminated).
There was something strange about Monique, but no one could put their finger on it. She seemed pleasant enough. Her dress sense was fairly ho-hum but nothing overly noticeable about it. It certainly wasn’t the way she dressed that made her strange.
Was it perhaps her personality? She seemed lovely. She smiled most agreeably. Her voice was mellifluous. Her conversation bordered on the delightfully interesting. Yet there was something strange about Monique, and no one could quite work out why.
Was she perhaps physically deformed in some way? Not that anyone could see. Ten fingers; ten toes. Her hair seemed natural as was the brunette colouring. What was it that didn’t seem right?
To be ruthlessly honest, because of the mystifying strangeness people were a little scared of her. At a party they would say a polite hello and then move on. It’s not that they rejected her; it was just that they felt a little uncomfortable in her presence.
Eventually life went on and Monique fell in love. Her partner didn’t seem to mind or notice her “strangeness”. Some people turn a blind eye and don’t sense a hovering weirdness. Yet there was still something strange about Monique, and no one could put their finger on it.
Well I wouldn’t call it a big party; just a dozen friends or so invited around for a few drinks. Helmut was invited. It was his birthday. He kind of knew the party was to celebrate his twenty-first birthday but no one was saying much.
Maree was at the party too. Helmut thought she was pretty sweet, and perhaps something might come of it. She was very friendly towards him at the party and Helmut wondered if he should invite her out on a date. In fact, Helmut knew most of the people at the party, or at least had a passing acquaintance with them. Roger wasn’t his favourite person there. He was always raucous and belligerent. At least Helmut thought so.
Over in the corner of the room, Helmut spotted a huge bouquet of flowers. In fact they were mainly sunflowers. Helmut liked sunflowers. Clearly they were intended for him when they made a speech and they handed over some little gift for his birthday.
The evening wore on. Then Roger tapped an empty beer bottle with a spoon. It was like a clarion call for everyone to shut-up. A speech was to be made.
“Thanks everyone for coming,” said Roger. “I hear that it is Helmut’s twenty-first birthday. Congratulations, Helmut. Maree and I just want to take this occasion to announce our engagement.”
Everyone applauded. Camilla, who clearly was already in the know, gathered the bunch of sunflowers and presented them to Maree.
Everyone went all goo-gar over the engaged couple. No one sang happy birthday.
Franklyn had what seemed like a tiny tattoo between his thumb and forefinger on his left hand. It was more of a little scratch than a design. No one had really noticed it, except for Barbara. She’d asked Franklyn about it and he said that indeed it was a scratch. He’d been cleaning the wood burner, scratched his hand, and when the tiny wound healed it entrapped a bit of soot. Hence the tattoo.
Barbara had jokingly said that she never would have believed she’d fall in love with a man with a tattoo! And now she was invited to Franklyn’s twenty-fifth birthday party, and Barbara sensed that this was to be the big day. He would “pop the question”.
At the party there were quite a few familiar faces, and quite a few friends of Franklyn that she had never met before. Barbara moved through the room, introducing herself and, in fact, charming many. It was then she noticed something strange. Franklyn was not the only one with a tiny tattoo between his thumb and forefinger. Rick had one, as did Dave. Barbara quietly observed. In the end she counted eight guests, all males, with the tiny tattoo.
She asked Franklyn about it. That night, Barbara died in her sleep.
Estelle had worked hard all year. It was her last year at university studying for a degree in Biochemistry. All the other students in her year seemed to manage to get all the work done AND party, party, party. But not Estelle. She plodded on day after day. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy Biochemistry. She did, and she got good grades for her assignments and labs. But the others seemed to do that too, AND party.
So when the last lecture was over, and the last assignment handed up and returned, and the last examination finished, all the other students went downtown somewhere to party, party, party. Estelle was invited but she didn’t really know them that well.
Instead she went on her own and bought herself the biggest strawberry milkshake the shop had. And a blueberry muffin.
Flora loved to play the piano. At any and every party she’d be first on the piano, thumping away at all the old tunes; not old, old tunes like When Johnny Comes Marching Home and On Top of Old Smokey, but popular oldies like Kum Ba Yah My Lord and We All Live in A Yellow Submarine. In theory they were songs everyone could join in singing – even young people. Flora loved to be the life of the party, except…
Flora’s talent was all in her mind. She couldn’t play the piano for nuts. Honest to goodness, a one armed chimpanzee with a paper bag on his hand would be better.
As soon as she started to play, everyone (or those without an ounce of civility) would exclaim, “Oh for shit’s sake! Not again!” But Flora wouldn’t hear. She’d be off on a second verse of the Theme from Doctor Zhivago. She knew how to ruin a good party.
So it was more than a little confusing when Flora had a stroke. People wished to express their sympathy, but the mere thought of Flora and her paralysed arms somehow filled them with a horrid delight.
Guntis was known as a boring man. That’s why a lot of people avoided him. He would set his mouth into drone and corner people with a story for ten minutes or so. Here he comes now. I must move. Oh damn.
Hello. There was this man who went to this old house that used to be owned by some socialite way back in the you-know-when, and the house was really old and full, no doubt, of memories. But this man, I think his name was Peter, went there and it had a small section of it cornered off as some sort of café. So Peter, I’m not 100% sure it was his name, but it’ll do, decided to buy something at the café. So he sat down at a table and the waitress came over and he ordered a cup of tea. And he drank the tea and then he left, but he was pleased he had visited that old home so immersed in history. It’s interesting, isn’t it, all this history? There was also another person there having a cup of tea. Actually, it might have been coffee, I don’t know, but Peter thought he’d seen her before. You never know who or what you might bump into from one day to the next. And she certainly looked familiar, but Peter couldn’t remember where he’d seen her before. It’s a small world, isn’t it? He said that the cup of tea was only averagely good. You’d think for such an historic house they’d do something with a bit of quality. Anyhow, I’ve got to go. It’s been nice talking to you.
I don’t want no flowers. I don’t want no cards. No funeral, just a cremation and no one’s to come. Nothing. I’d like everyone to know that I hated them as much as they hated me. Burn all my stuff. No free handouts for my greedy relatives.
P.S. Guess what Diamonique? The family are having one hell of a party.