Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rules of Yule

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rules of Yule

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Curtis

IT'S party season, and as Londoners begin the long, tipsy, steadily accelerating downhill pinwheel towards Christmas, I have become aware of conversations of a certain uniform tone and timbre taking place among my friends and colleagues. Ostensibly chummy, the chats have a combative, competitive edge. These people, you see, are comparing notes on soiree survival guides, drunkenness disciplines, canape regimes. They're constructing complex algorithms involving calories, alcohol units and quantums of potential shame. They're comparing their respective Rules of Yule and there's an element of oneupmanship involved.

"I'm only allowing myself two schoolnights out for parties a week," says one colleague. "Me too, and if I do a third I don't allow myself to drink," offers another. "I'm only drinking if someone else is pouring: I'm not opening a bottle myself," adds a third. "I'm allowing myself 30 mince pies in the whole of December, and if I eat them all in one go, too bad," says a fourth, laying a lateral-thinking trump card. Which prompts the second speaker to raise her game and up the stakes: she only ever drinks one glass of mulled wine; she makes sure she only goes out in December with friends who are "in synch" (ie who also want to be at home in bed by 10pm); she tries to "create a varied canape meal at parties, rather than standing near the ones with the highest carb content"; she deletes the Hailo taxi app from her phone to make herself go home earlier (or punish herself with the Night Bus of Horror if she stays out); and she forces herself to drink three pints of water before bed.

Not everyone's regime is so strict.

One friend reports that her plans for a Just-Say-November dissolved midmonth in a vat of prosecco. Another, that her plan for a 5:2 sugar diet was ruined by a William Curley Advent calendar. Homeopath and entrepreneur Celia Gray apparently just keeps Mondays booze-free in December. (As an aside, shouldn't a homeopath be able to survive on a mere pipette-droplet of champagne dissolved in water?) Others are more rigorous. "My Rules of Yule are based on Miss Piggy's diet -- never eat more than you can lift," jokes Carmel Allen, the stylish and slender brand director of Heal's, before going on to detail a stringent regime that involves porridge, bananas, Itsu Special Salmon, and alternating each glass of champagne with mineral water. …

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