I sign on for Dry January, like much of my office, but feel it really must be cheating, since I'm quite sure drinking has given me up, rather than vice versa. I find it has reduced my enthusiasm for parties, of course, and London Collections: Men (as men's fashion week is called) is really appallingly timed, beginning the very second one returns properly after the break. I decide to miss the Esquire party at the new Rosemount Hotel, even though Boy George is the star turn (DJ-ing, not singing, of course), and at ten thirty I'm tucked up in bed, watching the party unfold on twitter, without one whit of regret. I fear I may be middle aged.
I am ambivalent about having missed the party. Firstly, it looked like jolly good fun, and secondly, it seemed - in retrospect - a little mimsy skipping a party simply because it was on a Monday night. I resolve to go to the second of the two Esquire parties this week - it's at BAFTA, after one of the men's shows, and I assume it will be a more sedate affair: cocktails, rather than all night jumping around in front of Boy George's decks. I am mistaken - it's in some basement space at BAFTA, which is full of special effects smokey mist and lots and lots of red laser beams, a kind of cross between Lear's heath and Mission Impossible's jewel robbery scene. Everyone is clustered in one corner near the bar as if trying to escape and the sound system is pounding out dirty house.
'Is that the fire alarm?' asks my guest
'What?' It is, of course, impossible to hear anyone say anything over the throb and bang of the music.
'I said: Is that odd beeping sound the fire alarm?'
'No, I wouldn't have thought so. Isn't it the music?'
But it is the fire alarm, and the rest of the party is herded away from the bar and up the stairs onto Piccadilly, where we gather to thank the Lord it's the first night in weeks it hasn't been pouring down and shiver away the minutes until the fire brigade arrive.
The culprit, it transpires, is the smoke machines - they pumped out so much artificial atmosphere they excited the smoke detectors into believing it was real.
Whether or not it's the thirty minutes I spent without a coat outside party, or a new onslaught of germs from the tube (plague pits, that's what I say), I seem to be hatching a bug. I soldier on til mid morning the following day, then take to my bed, and make short work of the first week back at work by sleeping through the rest of it.