Our Steven knows a thing or two about partying and how to get through the party season relatively unscathed. Luckily for us, he gives us not only some invaluable tips but also a glimpse into his glamorous showbiz lifestyle.
I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host. – Dorothy Parker
It is eight o’clock. Saturday night in Soho, London, and I am heading down Greek Street towards the Curzon cinema. We went to see Marriage Story – an excellent movie. But this is not a movie review.
Soho is the party centre of town most nights, and that merely intensifies at the weekend. But on this evening, it was like a war had broken out. There were a lot of aggressive people out and about. One woman bashed into my 70-year-old friend, but somehow concluded that he had bashed into her. She is angry and calls him a c***. There are more and more drunks roaming the streets as we continue on. Then the penny drops – it’s Christmas party season. The Christmas party brigade are all out in force and have probably been drinking since lunchtime.
At the tender age of 16, I would have been wise to have listened to Dorothy Parker’s advice. I should have avoided that fourth gin and tonic. I did, indeed, end up under the host. It was my first showbiz party and excitement combined with nerves, mixed with a lot of alcohol, had a profound impact on my usually sound judgment.
The experience did, however, teach me a simple but important lesson about alcohol. Too much of it can lead to poor decisions. With a sober mind, we simply would not make these bad choices. These decisions can have a major impact on a person’s life. One bad choice can lead to a tarnished reputation that sticks to someone for a very long time. This is especially the case when it comes to the office Christmas party.
My advice regarding work parties is to remember that you can have a great work relationship with your colleagues, but it is best to have a social life and group of friends outside the office. I am not suggesting that office parties are completely no-go zones. You can still turn up for a reasonable amount of time before leaving quietly.
Sleeping with a colleague
Few things can be more damaging than letting your hair down at the work Christmas party to such an extent that you end up sleeping with a colleague or boss. Sadly, we live in a misogynistic world, so these sentiments apply to women more so than men. In the case of men, ending up in a colleague’s bed can often be viewed as little more than a notch on the bedpost. Perhaps he’ll be seen as a naughty boy, but the fallout is limited. When judgment is being cast on a woman for ‘misbehaving’ at an office Christmas party, the gossip that follows can be ceaseless.
Several years ago, I decided that you can just go for half an hour if it’s not a sit-down dinner. Walk around, greet a few people, go to the toilet and leave. Nobody will know that your appearance was so fleeting. In fact, I have been described as “the life and soul of the party” and “a hoot” on occasions that I made very brief visits to work-related Christmas parties.
I have heard some bad tales. Like the one about the colleague who got so drunk that she fell asleep in the toilet and didn’t wake up until being startled by the cleaning staff the following morning. A story like that is not forgotten quickly. Then there was the one about the guy who got so drunk that he called his boss a c***, only to have no recollection of it the next day. It was only when he realised that his colleagues wouldn’t make eye contact with him that he asked a few questions, and was horrified to discover the answer. I also know people who have sent text messages containing stinging gossip about a colleague to fellow party-goers, but they accidentally sent the text to the person being gossiped about. Not good.
Fortunately, I am at an advantage. First of all, I can handle my drink for the most part. I am privileged to be asked out all the time, while I do a fair bit of entertaining myself. So, I am no stranger to the party scene. However, the work-party season can sometimes bring out those busy mums and dads who don’t get to party much during the year. They can view it as an opportunity to really let their hair down. This is potentially dangerous.
The problem with alcohol is that she is a strange mistress, no matter how experienced a drinker you are. There are days (and I’m not sure if it’s something to do with the moon) when a couple of drinks can go straight to your head. Men, for the most part, have an unfair advantage due to our size. One year at Ascot, I recall a lady friend matching me drink for drink. On the way home, she fell and broke her designer shoes. She was so drunk that I had to carry her home. She wasn’t a petite lady either – more curvaceous.
If this happens to your colleague, be a nice person and refrain from making them relive it. Party post-mortems are not pleasant. There is nothing worse than waking up with a bad hangover and then listening to someone, who claims to be a friend, dissecting every indiscretion you may have engaged in. Trust me, there are many people out there who love schadenfreude. Don’t be one of those people.
If you are going out drinking, go with friends. My real parties are always at home, where people can feel safe and are with like-minded friends. They can either stay or, if they want to leave, they know I will get them transport home, as well as checking that they are back safely.
Keep the home parties small or they can turn into really hard work. Also, it allows you a chance to enjoy yourself as the host. Avoid serving red wine or any brightly coloured drinks because people are never as pedantic in your home as they are in their own. Prepare as much as you can before guests get there so you can chat. I always pour guests the first drink, then tell them to help themselves.
I have hosted large parties at home and they have turned out to be very hard work. For one of my birthday parties, the invitation read: “Steven is getting younger, party sponsored by embalming fluid.” I had a red carpet with goody bags containing beauty samples for guests to take home. I also provided manicures, acupuncture and a massage therapist. It was all going well until someone decided to arrive with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This upset some of the 40 guests, one of whom had cancer and had made a big effort to come that night. The dog made a beeline for her. It was the first time in my life I had to ask a guest to leave.
There were still plenty of guests left at midnight and they were taking no hint to go home. As the host, I was exhausted. I needed to rest, so I packed my bag and went to my best pal’s over the road. I texted one or two guests telling them to let themselves out. It was so funny, each one messaged me the next day to say they had cleaned and locked up. So my advice is to keep it small at home or hold bigger events at venues.
If you are going to be drinking alcohol, be sure to line your stomach, or follow the tips below.
- Drinking green tea during the day can help.
- Drink a large glass of water before you go out drinking. A glass of water in-between drinks also helps.
- Having a meal that is alcohol-free is good before heading to the party.
- Take supplements such as Vitamin B before you go out. It can also be good to take Chlorella, which is a type of algae – four grams of it before going out can also reduce the hangover.
- Load up on some good fats, such as an avocado or banana.
- If you arrive having done none of these, don’t panic. Order some nuts or olives as quickly as you can, and grab a bottle of water to go with that first drink.
It is also the season to look after your friends. As much as Christmas and the holiday season can be really fun, it is also an ideal time for predators and opportunists. The LGBTQ community are easy prey for these unsavoury individuals, some of whom come from our own community. Roofies such as GHB and Rohypnol can easily be dropped into drinks.
One evening, while out dancing with friends, one of our friends seemed to be missing. We then saw her heading towards the door with a stranger. Quickly, I went after her, but the doorman got there first. She was a regular, and he realised something was wrong. It turned out that she had been roofied and was being led away to God knows where. It all happened in a flash, too.
- Try and go out with friends.
- Never leave your drink unattended.
- Don’t let strangers buy you a drink that the bartender or waiter has not handed to you.
- Be a good friend and ensure that each other is going to get home ok.
- Never drive to a party where you will be drinking, and never let a friend drive drunk. There are so many ways to get home that are not expensive. If you had one too many and had driven to the pub beforehand, you can always call Scooter Man, who will pick you up and drive you home.
A close friend of mine decided to drive his car just one block away from the pub to his home. He had been drinking and reversed his car into the house next to the pub, much to the horror of the occupants who were enjoying watching the telly and eating a Chinese takeaway. He narrowly escaped jail, had his licence suspended and had to pay compensation. So, be safe.
I wish you all an incredible and safe Christmas and New Year. Here’s hoping for a great start to 2020.