One christmas weekend, two christmas parties, so what kind of christmas state am I in? The "Recovering from Christmas" state.
And it isn't actually christmas yet.
If there's one thing British people are obsessed with - apart from the changable British weather and the nebulous British identity, it's the British class system. When we're not denying it's existence, we're cataloging it's manifestations and stratifications.
And so, a working class christmas party followed by a middle class christmas party - providing much material for comparison.
The Blue Party
Blue is centuries-old slang for "slightly drunk". Some sources claim that "Blue Monday" originally didn't refer to feeling miserable on the first day of the working week, but to the day before Shrove Tuesday before Lent - where we got rid of out sinful alcohol by drinking it.
And much alcohol - beer, cider, and if we were feeling sophisticated, vodka - was disposed of at the workers' party. Whenever anyone passed out, the boys all got out their, erm, "boys", wiped them on the faces of their sleeping friends - photographing each other doing so and putting the result on facebook.
Which I didn't enjoy watching at all. Oh no not one little bit. I should have been straight - that way all the young men would have shown me their junk at every opportunity, daring me to suck it "for a laugh".
The only man who didn't do this was biologically female, though he identified as a man, was undergoing female-to-male reassignment therapy...and was in a long term monogamous relationship with a gay man. Who was therefore more-or-less uncle to his as-yet biologically female boyfriend's son.
Oh yes, did I mention that I'd never met any of these people before? My new FTM friend was a friend of a friend, who invited me along after meeting in a pub because, well, I managed to not make idiotically judgemental pronouncements about being MTF.
And so, somewhere on facebook, there is a photo of my hand, gently cupping the manscaped scrotum of a surprised straight bloke, over a comatose, slightly drooling face. Which later kissed me. As a joke. Twice.
The Red Party
That's red as in socialist. My old socialist friends, dressed in their best clothes, doing their best to imitate the manners of the ruling class from a century before.
The alcohol here was mulled wine - red wine boiled with spices and fruit juices, served hot. The kind of alcoholic beverage you're expected to sip gently and enjoy - getting gradually slightly drunk is rather expected of one, though actually being drunk is a social gaffe.
In the blue party you drink to get drunk as quickly as possible, and then you drink more slowly to stay drunk for as long as possible. In the red party you drink to lose just a little of that British social awkwardness that we all claim to have and claim we need to lose because it's just so silly.
In the blue party everyone has a job - or two - but I have absolutely no idea what anyone did professionally. In the red party, the way to start a conversation is to ask what someone does for a living.
I'm not sure whether comparing jobs is a safe topic of conversation, or a substitute for conversation. But though I was dressed like a labourer, my profession as teacher was an entry visa to the polite chit-chat.
Mentioning things like, say, male-to-female gender reassignment therapy would have been met with embarassed babbling, covering horror. No, they're not horrified by the concept, just by the concept of talking about it.
The babbling would have been about how much we all support equal rights for everyone...unlike all those half-civilised foreigners who bring their woman-hating, racist ways to our island.
Odd that the blue people who use prejudiced language to jokingly(?) insult their friends(?) at every opportunity...are not the ones who think it's a moderate suggestion to close their country's borders.
In the blue party, music is constant - hours on end of punk powerchords on youtube, played through a sound system which is by far the most expensive thing in the house. In the red party, music is something debated, and something performed by the host on a piano.
In both parties politics and philosophy are discussed. The difference is that in the red party, noncommital opinions are exchanged. In the blue party we talk about heteronormativity, intersectionality, and the ethics of assuming a truth of a rape allegation...at length and - astonishingly - presenting arguments to change each other's minds.
Oh, one more difference. British soap operas are all about poor people barely coping with improbably complex emotional entanglements. Christmas specials of British soap operas are thus about their catastrophic emotional breakdowns. Until now, I never thought they were realistic.
In the red house, the strongest emotion expressed was from the lady host, firmly asserting against all evidence that there was no more wine in the whole house, and that therefore Kapitano could absolutely not have a tenth glassful.
In the blue house, there was indeed no more alcohol because the lady host drank it all, and felt the need for consecutive conversations about how she somehow couldn't dump her no-good boyfriend, although she really really hated him.
And so, having completed my impromptu project of embedded anthropological observation...and slept off my hangover, I can enjoy a nice quiet christmas, without having to deal with any other people.
Happy Hannukah, Merry Kwanzaa, and a pleasantly uneventful Pastafarian Holiday to you all.