If I ever invite you to spend New Year’s Eve with us, please refuse. Even if I beg, plead and cajole and tell you that I’ve spent days preparing for it, just say that you’ve already been invited to do something else. Something less life-threatening. Like Base Jumping.
Our New Year’s Eve parties are jinxed. People we have invited in the past have come down with pneumonia, glandular fever and suspected gallstones in the days leading up to the 31st December. When everybody else is well, we are the ones who are sick.
The curse continued this year. Out of the six people we’d invited over for dinner, one person in each couple was afflicted by misfortune or illness. The mother of the first died a few days before the end of the year. The funeral was held on New Year’s Eve so they gave our party a miss for obvious reasons. Another couple attended the funeral before coming over to us. They arrived here very late and one of them had a chronic case of flu. They managed just a couple of hours at the dinner table, before bowing in to a soaring fever and hitting the sack. The third couple made it through to 2.30am before she started throwing-up. Blaming it on over-indulgence, they were both in bed quarter of an hour later. As if I would ever over-feed my guests.
As for us, we had spent the entire Christmas season avoiding all contact with our neighbours. The usual bout of Gastric flu had hit France in time for the holidays and our village had suddenly become the epicentre. How could I cook if I was ill I thought?
As it turned out, on that particular evening we were the last men standing. At 3am I decided it would be sensible to haul my husband in off the patio where he’d decided to drink a last beer whilst he waited for the sunrise in a wine-induced haze. I was afraid that if I left him out there I would probably find him in the morning, sat in the same position, beer glass in hand, frozen to statuesque proportions by the sub-zero temperatures. Now wouldn’t that be a New Year’s Eve to remember? I turned off the Christmas tree lights, willing them and all the other decorations away to another planet and went to bed.