Two days into 2011 and I know it's rather too early to say, but I hope it's been a good start! Now my head and liver have recovered slightly from the events of our own New Year I feel compelled to write about it - If nothing more, then to act as cautionary tale about the inconvenience of having a giant mask as a fancy dress party in a crowded location.
So, Friday afternoon saw my lovely wife Tara, the newly engaged Fran & Tom and myself heading down to lovely Glemsford in Suffolk for their local pubs (The Angel) 2010 New Years Eve party - the fancy dress theme being 70s/80s Rock Stars. I'd been to the Angel once before (and had duly guest written an article on my friend Neils blog about it) and having thoroughly enjoyed myself last time, was looking forward to another visit. And it's always a good excuse to pay a visit to such good friends in such a lovely part of the country.
Regular/Irregular/anybody who happened to catch any of the photographs right down there* readers of this blog will know that my original fancy dress plans of going as Noddy Holder were changed in a dramatic turn of events (which I've carefully illustrated below). The Frank Sidebottom mask was finished on the Friday morning with a few tidying up licks of paint and padding out with bubble wrap so it would actually sit properly on my head.
We turned up at Chez Neil and Lisa after an uneventful drive (lining our stomachs with Mcdonalds finest on the journey - nothing says Christmas and New Year more than a Mcdonalds Festive Pie) and waited for the others to arrive, whilst filling the time (and our stomachs) with cans of Carling, bottles of Budweiser and an assortment of snacky treats provided by our generous hosts.
Angus from AC/DC, Tara as Paul Stanley from Kiss (albeit Paul Stanley with breasts - an unusual yet slightly arousing combination) with Fran dressed as Bad Sandy from Grease (who, unlike Olivia Newton John, didn't have to be sewn into her trousers). We watched in a combination of horror and amusement as Neil decked himself out as Freddie Mercury in full housewife garb from the "I want to break free" video (complete with savoury maize-snack nipples) and Lisa made up herself as Siouxsie Sioux.
Campbell and Gwen arrived, respectively dressed as Kenny Rogers (from off of Kenny Rogers Chicken fame) and Dolly Parton. Later arrivals were Gill (in full amazing bacofoil Abba costume) and Gerry (Alice Cooper) and Lizzie (David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, complete with prosthetic penis and prop Raoul the Owl) and Paul (as The Edge).
We set off towards The Angel at around 9, the more lazy amongst us getting a lift. The place was absolutely heaving but eventually we found sufficient space to sit (and Neil managed to pick up a small plastic yellow childrens hoover, thus completing the uncanny Freddie Mercury transformation). The Frank Sidebottom mask saw limited use through much of the night, as navigation was next to impossible - I've thoughtfully provided a simulation for your convenience (although it could be argued in the case of the photograph I've chosen as a demonstration, seeing less of it could be viewed as a positive thing).
However, the mask got a certain amount of reaction. At one stage a bloke asked to take a photograph of his girlfriend sitting on my knee. She clearly didn't have a clue who I had come as (much like Lizzie) but reluctantly (and confusedly) did so. Little Frank also joined in with the fun, at one point getting the whole 70s/80s Rock Star fancy dress bit confused and putting on his Batman mask. Vast quantities of Abbot Ale and lager were consumed, with Tom even being brave enough to attempt the 6.5% Greene King Abbot Special Reserve (which, luckily for his liver, had ran out at the bar before he could have another one).
The Fallen were playing. As like before (in fact uncannily like before, if their set list was anything to go by) they were excellent. A performance of Freebird ensured they adhered to the pubs unwritten rule ("No Freebird - No Pay") so they'd get paid for the evening.
Raucous celebrations ensued at Midnight rang in, which was accompanied by the fantastic news of Tom asking me to be his best man which was, in itself, an awesome start to 2011. I managed a brief bit of dancing now there was sufficient room to actually move around the building but returned to find Frank gone. Luckily it just turned out a few of the locals had been trying him on, but he was returned safely, albeit slightly damp.
So, all in all, an absolutely brilliant evening. Thanks for Neil and Lisa for both inviting us and allowing us to occupy much of their house, and here's to a fantastic 2011 for all of us. Happy New Year!