The end of another year. Next one will be better. By Kate
The utterly environmentally friendly paper-heart bunting from last New Year’s Eve survived intact and again made a perfect decoration.
We have ivy on the tables (very pagan – bright green and signifying all that is new) and I bought huge bunches of thistles at Covent Garden Market early Friday morningto add a suitable finishing touch. There are stems of thistles in the red tea pots around the ledge of the snug and 3 big silver ice-buckets full framing the bar like a prickly forest.
It feels like a fiesta and for the year-end celebrations every table was booked. We even turned the back of the shop (where School of Wine and tastings are held), into a lounge bar area with the sofas from the snug where a table of 8 had temporarily displaced them.
There was an unfortunate incident with one of our very first customers, a polite and gently spoken lady. She sat on the white wooden sofa and then slid with some degree of grace and aplomb towards the floor as a sofa leg disappeared smoothly down the drain hole that Tom or Tony had neglected to shut. They both deny responsibility.
It was the lady’s tremendously bad luck that on top of the indignity of finding herself perched, legs akimbo, at an amazingly precarious and uncomfortable angle, I happened to be the only person who spotted her predicament.
I am really not good in these situations. Even if my life depended on it, I can’t not laugh. As I am aware that I can’t laugh in the presence of a customer in peril, I find I have to turn on my heel and walk away quite fast instead of offering any assistance at all.
To make matters worse, such was my state by the time I reached the bar that I couldn’t convey the message about a women sliding graciously into the drain of doom. (Yes, it was the same drain that was the once the source of such incredible Green & Blue misery) and that someone exercising considerably more self control had to go over as a matter of urgency and offer some assistance.
It is New Year’s Eve though and incredibly, she did not hate us with a passion after this. We gave her a free drink and she and her party were still there in the wee hours.
We got quite frantically busy later on and I even helped in the kitchen, which is generally not allowed. Apparently I did quite well although my hummus and Panini needs some work.
It was a a great change from the last 3 NYE’s, which have all been pretty grim. In 2007 we had just learnt that we would have to close on January 1st because the problem with the drains had become intractable. We did not know if or when we would be able to open again. The 2008 change-over was spent in a hospital ward with Jude in a fairly bad way, and last year we were not even half full and feeling somewhat mournful, not least because we knew come January we would again be dealing with another deeply unpleasant aspect of the drains saga.
And then 2010 went on to be another tough old slog culminating in devastation of a different sort.
But this New Year's Eve made it feel like we will live, somehow. We will have to spend money on my poor darling shop and bar that desperately needs some smartening up, and we need to expand and do more of what we do already but I feel sure that we will succeed. Sometimes, things don’t quite happen in the way we think they might, but if one takes a deep breath, holds on, and has a restorative sip of great wine from time to time, you get by. Sometimes, you even have fun doing it.
At 10 minutes to midnight, we realised that our internet connection was down. AGAIN. No Big Ben chimes, then. After briefly considering and then abandoning the idea of finding the perfect song to play just after the clock struck, Tom instead got very bossy and ordered everyone first to be quiet and then to count down. We all did. There were a few stragglers but mostly everyone got to midnight at more or less the same time.
Then there was cheering, and drinking of champagne, and lots of strangers being friendly with other strangers, and quite a few different versions, some concurrent, of Auld Lang Syne. All exactly as it should be.
I did not get to the club in Dalston with half of the Green & Blue team and some cherished customers. It was too far and I was too tired. But I was very happy, for the first time in three years, with where and how I celebrated my first few seconds of 2011. A customer emailed this week to say how much like a little family our team at Green & Blue is. That is how it felt on Friday- and marking events with family is always the best way to build good memories.
Happy 2011, everyone. Drink great wine (ideally, bought from us), and we do hope to see you soon. It is probably not going to be an easy year for many reasons but that is no reason why it won’t be a good one.