New Years

LeftLion 38 cover. pic of Left Lion in front of council house.
I have been in exactly three proper fights in my life. I know that probably sounds like a lot to you, the average Nottinghamian, but I’m from a small Southern Alberta town and there’s not a lot to do out there. Caving each others faces in is outranked only by ‘designing beer bongs’ and ‘burning stuff’ in the list of top ten prairie pastimes. Growing up in Brooks and only being involved in three fights makes me a bit of a pantywaist by Albertan standards

My first fight was a result of a junior high intramural floor hockey kerfuffle with a kid named Mike. This is exactly how the fight went:

  1. Mike put me in a headlock, threw me to the ground, sat on top of me and asked; “Do you give up?”
  2. I said; “No!”
  3. He punched me in the face
  4. I said; “Yes!”
  5. He got off me and went back to his floor hockey game while I had a bit of a cry.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: I am truly crap at fighting. I swore I would never put myself through that again. It took a little thing called ‘New Year’s Eve’ to make me break that promise. Twice. I’ve never been much of a scrapper, even when I’ve had a few. On a normal night out when my body has decided I’ve had too much to drink, my stomach sends a signal to my brain that says, “Screw being social – fried chicken and bed are now more important than breathing.”

Thirty minutes later, I am tucked up in bed covered head-to-toe in the Colonel’s spices while my mates (and often my wife) are back at the bar wondering where I’ve gotten to. People who know me back home have long gotten used to my disappearing act and dubbed the phenomenon my ‘Robbie Auto-pilot’. Robbie Auto-pilot usually kicks in sometime around the fourth or fifth pint, which has saved me from making a dickhead of myself many times. I love Robbie Auto-pilot.

New Year’s Eve is Robbie Auto-pilot poison. Robbie Auto-pilot doesn’t understand why it’s so important to drink J-Bombs and champagne at midnight, or why no one will let him go home. What these people don’t understand is that if Robbie Auto-pilot is stopped from leaving and forced to carry on drinking past his limit, he becomes Robbie-Asshole. And the only way to get Robbie-Asshole back into his box is to punch him back in.

My second fight started at the end of the night on New Year’s Eve 1999. Robbie Auto-pilot had a foot out the door, but was stopped by my best mate, who turned him back in and bought him a bottle of champagne. Robbie-Asshole repaid him for his generosity by calling his girlfriend a whore. I have no recollection of what happened next; I do know that I woke up the next morning with a sore face and a distinct absence of fried chicken. My third fight happened two New Year’s Eve’s later; different guy, same insult, same result. (Who even says ‘whore’ anyway? It’s a ridiculous word. I don’t know where Robbie-asshole has picked this up; only 70s porn stars and saloon owners in spaghetti westerns say ‘whore’).

It goes without saying that NYE – like most things which involve copious amounts of alcohol – is taken more serious over here than it is back in Canada. For starters, my pals back home have learned that if Robbie Auto-pilot wants to go home – even if it’s ten to midnight on New Year’s Eve – it’s best to let him go. My English mates aren’t quite as enlightened; previous attempts to at that time were met with utter contempt. Also, you people have this horrible ritual called ‘rounds’, and on 31 December, these rounds are expensive. If I’ve bought a round of champagne for everyone, I can’t leave before I get my own back, because while Robbie Autopilot has my personal safety at heart, he’s not an idiot.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated in this city the same cack-handed way that every other holiday outside of Christmas is celebrated. It always starts with good intentions; Bands are booked, tickets are printed, champagne is chilled, party poppers are bought. But by half ten the champagne’s been quaffed, the poppers popped and the bar is a sweaty, steaming mass of shouting, slobbering faces, gyrating arms and legs and flying sparkly bits; Frankly, you’re lucky to get out alive. In my first New Year’s Eve over here, I was rugby-tackled by a massive guy dressed as Dennis the Menace. I escaped a severe humping by said man, but only just.

My second limey New Year’s Eve started with tequila shots and ended in me dislocating my shoulder wrestling a mate on the sidewalk. We actually counted down to 1am that night; everyone was so paralytic that no one noticed that midnight had passed. Oh, and last year my brother-in-law pulled me away from the bar before Robbie-Asshole got my face pounded in for calling a woman at the bar a, quote, “Whoring she-chav”.

Drunken Pudsey image by Rob White

This year, the idea of going to a New Years party in fancy dress is being bandied about. Ordinarily, I despise fancy dress, but it might be a good idea for my own protection. I’ve decided to go either as Pudsey Bear or as George Osborne, the thinking being that no one can get angry at a giant Pudsey bear, no matter how sweary it gets, while if I go dressed as George Osborne, people would half expect me to call them ‘whores’. I could walk the streets kicking pensioners and disabled people in the balls with boots made from gold bullion and people would think it was part of the act. Oh, look at that crazy George Osborne; he’s set that guy in the wheelchair on fire, what a nut!

I will try to make sure Robbie Auto-pilot remains intact this year, but if you do happen to see a
bloodied Pudsey on the street this New Year’s Eve walking around aimlessly, don’t speak to him – just point him into the nearest SFC. He’ll take it from there.

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