"Don't take this the wrong way, but would anybody like a date?"
This nodermeet only actually constituted the second of two halves of a very high alcohol content weekend for me; on Friday night I had taken the train from Winchester down to Southampton to visit a comedy club with a dozen fellow graduate software engineers, drunk until I began to dance (if you know me, you'll know how eye-popping-monocle-droppingly rare that is) and then slept it off in a mate's sleeping bag in Shirley. (The walk back into town the following morning took about an hour but it was a beautiful fresh brisk day and so absolutely worth it.) Reeling from the (admittedly highly time-efficient) shock to the system that a 4-pint jug of lager represents I had traipsed home, had a bath, done some shopping and then headed out again to The Debutante's finding it hard to believe that it was still only Saturday afternoon. Who knew there were so many hours in the day?
Winchester is well-connected with Waterloo but Waterloo is irritatingly poorly-connected with the Central line with the result that it was around 8pm by the time I arrived at the party. I had received a text message from Andrew Aguecheek asking me my estimated time of arrival before I actually even left my house. His node said to arrive from 3pm, but DEB had said to arrive around 7pm, and it's DEB's house, so who was I going to believe? The door was wedged shut by the pile of shoes just inside it; the heat from the rooms within fogged up my glasses. I set down my holdall and unravelled seven bottles of beer from the Don't Panic beach towel within. These went surprisingly slowly, considering the number of people in the room and the fact that the only other beer in the room was a crate of Tetley's Bitter which DTal had apparently lugged all the way from Wales on the bus.
I didn't recognise everybody at the party because one of them had been registered for all of two weeks and several weren't noders at all. Auduster I should have recognised, but somehow we've managed to avoid going to the same nodermeets up until now. Also present: The Debutante, Andrew Aguecheek, fondue, Hazelnut, and BaronWR.
Topics of conversation included: doing one final James Bond movie in the "old" continuity, just to finally kill or otherwise lay to rest the character; evil accountants ("I'm accrual master"); Tom Lehrer's genius (I claimed that I knew the Elements Song off by heart and was never actually called upon to prove it, so, for all anybody at the party knows, I was lying); Hazelnut's collection of the universe's geekiest metal; the lamb, rice and spinach which DEB was cooking up for dinner (I'd already eaten, feeling slightly guilty at always going to nodermeets where she and/or lpm were providing the food, eating that food, and then not paying any kind of bill or even leaving a tip); techniques for removing the stain of an entire full glass of red wine from what had hitherto been pristine white carpet (oops); DEB's flatmate's desperate need for a table of some kind.
After mulling over the options available to us we watched two movies. The first was Severance, which was written by former noder RalphyK, and is classified as a comedy horror movie, provided you find horror amusing. If I'm honest, I don't; I find the genre tense and unpleasant, so any humour in the movie was lost on me. We followed that up with Hot Fuzz, featuring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and every British comedy actor you can name. I'd seen it before. Hot Fuzz isn't a bad movie; all the plot points fit together remarkably well (the phrase "Chekhov's sea mine" came to mind), but, like everything that the Spaced team has done since Spaced, it... wasn't as funny as Spaced. It felt like the movie was trying to be everything; comedy, horror, western, buddy cop flick, action movie, small town murder mystery. Too violent to be light-hearted, but too funny to take seriously. In other words, strangely disjointed.
By the end of the flicks it was around 2am. Several of us had fallen asleep during the movies, and DTal at least was permitted to remain so while the rest of us methodically moved all of the empty bottles and dirty glasses into the kitchen, thereby compressing all of the following day's cleanup challenges into a single room. Andrew Aguecheek, BaronWR and others made plans to catch the night bus home; the rest of us got as comfortable as possible on sofa cushions and the floor.
The following morning, slightly hungover and a little bleary, DEB decided that pancakes were what were required. One jug, one spatula, two pans, five plates, and a selection of cutlery later, we retired to the living room to watch The West Wing. The washing up could wait.
Steadily, as people began to recover their faculties, they began to melt away, to face the world via the London Underground, having spent a Valentine's Day not alone.
DEB reports that the clean-up operation passed without incident. Only one glass was broken, none of the cutlery appeared to have mysteriously disappeared, and the carpet is still damp but hopefully no longer tinged pink. The lamb recipe will be submitted by gin soaked in the near future, in case you want to recreate it.