ONE of my friends announced she had a date on New Year's Day.
A bit unusual, we thought until she explained her date worked shifts and was not working on New Year's Day, so it was as good a day as any.
"Where are you going?" I enquire?
"He's a psychiatric nurse and is on night shift so we'll be meeting in the afternoon, but I'm not sure what's even open on New Year's Day," replied Christine.
"My brother Jim is having a New Year's Day party, why don't you bring him along?" I suggested. "That way, if you don't hit it off, you are in the company of people you know."
"We might just do that," agrees a smiling Christine.
New Year's Day arrives and Jim's party is in full swing.
Thirty or so family and friends are having fun with a fabulous banquet food, drinks for every taste and music blaring.
The door bell chimes and I hear a familiar voice before Christine walks in with her new man, as handsome as she said.
Christine (who knows most people at the party) opens with: "Hi everybody. Happy New Year. This is Harry.
Everyone smiles at the couple, raise a glass and toasts the New Year and continue socialising.
However, as she is a long-time friend I detect she may already have had a few sherries!
"Over here," I gesture to them to stand at the kitchen island where people are gathered. That's where most of the food is.
Christine starts to tell us a bit about how she met Harry.
I gesture to my other friend Mae who agrees that Christine seems to be slurring.
"A wee wine Christine?" offers Jim, our host.
"Thanks Jim. That's great."
Nerves seem to be getting the better of her. Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle.
Before we have time to say cheers, the glass of wine has disappeared.
"Another?" asks Jim.
"Great, thanks," slurs Christine.
Harry seems happy joining in the conversation and getting to know the other guests. He smiles at his date now and then.
Jim offers yet another drink. Harry is happy with his diet coke but Christine hiccups "Thanks Jim. You're great. Did I ever tell you you're great?"
Jim laughs and heads into another room.
By now the majority of guests are in the kitchen and picking at finger food on the island.
We attempt to chat to Christine but she is not making a lot of sense. Harry is next to her.
Christine, obviously hungry and oblivious to her surroundings, picks up a slice of cold meat and dangles it above her head, missing her mouth several times before dropping it in.
Harry chats. Mae and I stare. What should we do?
"Harry is a saint," I declare to Mae. "We must try and divert his attention and get her a drink of water. "
"Good idea," says Mae.
But it's not easy as his date is now very much the focal point of the party.
"Sure you don't want a drink Harry?" I say, trying to distract him from an intoxicated Christine.
"No thanks. I'm working later," he replies.
By now Christine is trying to maintain her dignity on a shaky bar stool and reaches over for more food.
We watch speechless at her attempts to spear a pickled onion with a cocktail stick, no mean feat when sober. The onion evades her time after time as she repeatedly stabs the marble counter top with the cocktail stick.
"That'd make a great party game," I hear a guest laugh.
After a while, Christine loses patience with the onions and moves her attention to the tray of delicious chipolatas.
No more cocktail sticks for her. Etiquette has long since vanished and she is straight in there with her fingers. We watch in horror as her attractiveness ebbs away with every chipolata she manages to dangle and drop into her mouth whole.
"She's like a Fish called Wanda," says Angela as we endeavour to move the chipolatas out of her reach.
By now, my formerly alluring friend has an olive in her cleavage but I decide it will only attract unwanted attention if I try to to remove it.
"All that's missing is some black pudding between her teeth and a red wine moustache!" suggests Mae, shaking her head. It is hilarious, but there's not a lot we can do to help.
"Henry," shouts Christine. "I think we need a taxi."
Ten minutes later and Christine and Harry have left.
We are relieved they have gone and the post-party discussions take places.
"Do you think we will ever see Harry again?" says Mae.
"We'll have more chance of seeing Prince Harry than ever setting eyes on that chap again!" I announce.