It was my friend Barney’s birthday on Friday and he wanted to go out. I’d not been ‘out’ in a while, having semi-accidentally fallen into a mid 40s lifestyle prematurely and spent most of the winter in my room reading War and Peace and drinking sherry.
Barney arranged for a group of his friends to meet at the Enterprise, very close to Chalk Farm tube. The Enterprise is one of those generically London pubs, sort of nice, but really a habitat for the swill of end of the week drinkers.
‘It’s quite loud!’ a shout as hard as I can into Barney’s ear shortly after we arrive.
He mouths something at me that looks like ‘what?’ then he hands me a vodka tonic and turns to communicate with the girl next to him. The extreme vibrancy of the sound appears to keep communication to a mainly physical level. I try to talk to one of Barney’s friends, but without much success. I think he was trying to tell me about his career in policies, but the miming omits most of the detail.
This is the exact kind of social event I find it hard to really get into. After watching the mime about policies, I retreat to an empty space by the wall and watch the crowd, trying to work out if they are genuinely enjoying being out. People are definitely smiling, and there is a lot of movement and shouting and drinking.
‘Are you ok?’ Barney is standing next to me suddenly.
‘Yes. Great.’ I shout back.
I wonder if I slip off now, would I still be clear headed enough to read half an hour of Tolstoy before going to bed?
People have started dancing. The upside of the situation is the dj, a formidable woman in her 60s, isn’t playing hard house pounding r and b beats, but has a medley of 80s pop and the odd 50s classics. You can at least hear words. Barney’s group dance in a circle and by some unspoken arrangement, take it in turns to dance in the middle of it, to much applause. After my turn, which involved a lot of spinning, I realize I’ve lost an earring.
‘Are you ok?’ Barney shouts.
‘I’ve lost an earring!’ I tell him, kneeling up from the area of floor I’d been searching.
‘What?’ he mouths.
I shake my head and smile. He grins and goes to dance in the middle of the circle.
10 minutes later I hail a cab and go home.
‘Do you think I should go out more?’ I ask my friend Evi the next day, ‘you know, try and keep War and Peace to weeknights only?’
'For sure,' she says. 'I think this is the year for that. Get it in before we're 30.'