Midnight approached and we were all pretty drunk. I felt a fibre of tension between the couple to my left. She was looking at her plate and whatever he was saying wasn’t working. Her nostrils flared. He went for a smoke. One of the other women was dancing drunkenly while her husband slept on his hand. She shoved him a bit, but nothing – so she started dancing with the waiter. The final couple sat side by side in a silence that wasn’t quite companionable. They were both thinking of other things. Other people?
The countdown began. The couple to my left took a break from what had become an all-out row to join in. We put on our complimentary 2008-shaped glasses. I peered out through the 00s, feeling pleasantly disguised. All the couples kissed each other at midnight. The man to my left kissed me too, and his wife clenched her fist. I took a step back. The man across the table fell comatose while his wife slow-danced with the waiter. The silent couple returned to silence. I felt awkward, and then … then there was the glorious realisation that I could just … leave.
I have been all these people before and since, but not that night. I wished everyone a happy new year and sauntered back to my room. It was all I could do not to whistle. I did not owe a thing to anyone in the world. I wished myself a happy new year, knowing all I would have to deal with in the morning was myself. I flew back refreshed on New Year’s Day. Alone, but complete.
Katy Brand is an actor, comedian and writer