By Lauren Edwards
I miss pubs. I miss gigs. I miss going to friends’ houses to drink and mingle and get up close and personal with my nearest and dearest. Will we ever again feel squashed in a bar with a sweaty pub band to entertain us? Will we ever squeeze through a crowd with our arms aloft carrying beers? We must remain hopeful that these days will return and life will go ‘back to normal’ – hopefully this summer. Let’s just hope we remember how to socialise without masks, that we don’t flinch if someone comes too close and that we don’t feel like we have to spray every glass/bottle with sanitiser before we pick it up. Daydreaming about the freedom of socialising has led me to reminisce about simpler times…
Nights out during my teen years were filled with cheap booze, that we begged our older siblings to buy for us, with our inexperienced tipple of choice being (the now thankfully discontinued) Thunderbird wine, or something that we found in the back of our parents drink cabinets, normally a neglected bottle of Ouzo which often resulted in a lot of hair-holding and up-chucking between friends. Nights out were at random house parties which were organised after the parents had gone out, or local nightclubs – both of which required either public transport or a lift from your Dad, reducing the glam factor a tad. Still, you didn’t need more than a few Vodka and Coke’s to feel tipsy and by being an experimental smoker. who didn’t really inhale, the hangovers were fairly minimal.
I started my 20s living in Brighton with one of my best friends and then, following a hedonistic summer living on a shoestring, I returned to London to start my career in the media industry. Whilst at The Daily Telegraph, I worked on the launch of our new supplement covering the dotcom explosion of internet start-ups that were making millionaires overnight. The companies we featured were splashing their massive budgets on extravagant parties which we were invited to every night of the week, if we could handle it! Each party meant free booze, free food, and enough gimmicks to ensure they made the press the following day. At one party I attended, Boney M performed alongside roller skating barmaids squirting Vodka into people’s mouths. My Brighton bestie had moved to Ibiza and opened a bar and this became a regular holiday destination for me and my friends. However, numerous nights out and ‘non-relaxing’ holidays can take their toll on your health along with your bank balance. Before long, I had more plastic in my wallet than Barbie and, as I approached my late 20s and found my fella, I was ready to slow things down a bit in the name of starting a family.
My early 30s were mostly spent knee-deep in nappies and soft play centres. When my friends and I did finally extract ourselves from our babies and toddlers and tamed our postnatal hair for a rare night on the town, we found ourselves binge drinking our way through too much wine, having put the breast milk on ice, not certain when we would all find a mutual date to do it again.
Now in my 40s, and my children having progressed into their teens, babysitting options have improved and there are more opportunities for nights out and even weekends away. My friends and I can still quaff a large amount of booze on a night out, but now we know our cocktail of choice and how to pick a decent bottle of wine and even sometimes partake in drinking a few magical glasses of water with the knowledge that mid-40s hangovers can stretch over a few days.
So here are my top tips for when we can socialise once more.
1. Try and remember how bad hangovers really are when any type of shot is suggested during the evening.
2. If you are invited to a party, put away the loungewear but try not to dress like you don’t get out much and if it is a house party, still wear shoes and resist the urge to take slippers.
3. Keep it light, do not be a whinge-drinker or an over-sharer. After a few vinos, resist the urge to talk about your marriage/childbirth/financial situation.
4. Think carefully about whether to update your Facebook or Instagram status after too many drinks – this mainly applies to uploading photos of you and your friends attempting a pout.
5. Make sure you surround yourself with the people who make you laugh until there is no sound coming out, when a look between you can convey everything you want to say, and you wake up the next day not filled with regret but with a big smile on your face.