New Year new me? Bollocks.

So today is “Blue Monday”. The “most depressing” day of the year. The day we supposedly give up on our New Year’s resolutions.

Bollocks.

“Blue Monday” is a phrase coined by marketers to get you to treat yourself to something you don’t need. The third Monday of January isn’t making you blue. But the entire concept of New Year’s resolutions might be.

Trying to radically change yourself, and realising soon after that it’s not that easy to transform the person you’ve spent all of your life becoming? That might do it.

For some people, New Year really is the catalyst for change, and that’s amazing. If you can genuinely make a decision to better yourself or your life on a given day, and stick to it, then great. But it’s not for me, nor the vast majority of people.

If I really want to do something – genuinely, with all my heart – I won’t wait until January 1st. I’ll start right away.

If I really want to make a change, it won’t come from a big public statement and setting myself a new standard – one which is probably either completely unattainable in the first place, or completely unsustainable in the long term.

Now you’re probably thinking I’m hypocritical, as I started this blog early in the New Year, and have been writing quite a lot since doing so. But the change came from the experiences of my holiday, not because of an arbitrary point in the calendar year. I could have taken the same holiday in spring or autumn and started writing as a result. The frequency of my writing is just as and when I think of stuff to write about – I was churning out posts at first as I wanted to document my Sleep No More visits before I forgot them, but I imagine now there will be weeks where I write daily, and weeks where I don’t write at all. And both are fine.

The main thing for me, is not setting myself up for failure. And promising myself that I’m going to lose 2 stone, or write a post every day, or stop drinking for a month, or give up chocolate, would be doing exactly that.

Whatever I say about “Blue Monday”, January isn’t the easiest month for a lot of people. Bank accounts are rather closer to empty than we’d all like after Christmas, and thanks to most people getting paid early in December it seems like forever until your next payday. It’s cold and damp – in the UK at least. After the Christmas festivities, January can seem dull and empty. So surely it’s the absolute worst time to deprive yourself and set yourself difficult goals?

In January, I’m happy if I just manage to get through the month without catching a horrible cold. I try to plan evenings with friends, or meals out (screw January diets) or theatre trips to make sure I’ve got plenty to look forward to. And I’m certainly not doing dry January. I can’t think of a month when I’d rather be sat in front of a film with a glass of Malbec, or curled up with a good book and a wee dram. Or out painting the town red for that matter – sometimes a couple of drinks and a boogie is exactly what you need to fight off the January blues. Grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli washed down with 2 litres of still, room temperature water probably won’t have the same effect as a night out letting your hair down. I’ll be working out and eating healthily too, but give yourself a break and do whatever it is that makes you happy.

If you are one of those people who can capitalise on the fresh start a new year brings, then good for you – crack on! I’ll be here, cheering you on. But I’ll be doing it with a glass of wine in my hand.

 

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New Year’s Eve at the McKittrick – Decadent Dinner, Sleep No More and PARTY!

My memories of the McKittrick are like a wonderful dream, so I’ve tried to write about them in such a way. I’ve kept details, particularly of 1:1s, quite vague, so as to avoid spoilers, and also to prevent me from clouding any experience you might have had with the details of mine. And forgive me if I’ve mis-remembered anything. Details of dreams are often hazy, and we do live inside a dream.

 

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve. It’s routinely disappointing, so I’ve spent the last few quite content, on the sofa with my husband, drinking champagne and watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. I save a small fortune, and my expectations are nice and low so disappointment is unlikely.

So what did we do? We went to the bloody USA. For the most expensive and hotly anticipated New Year’s Eve I will likely ever have. So no chance of this going wrong…

But if I can trust anyone to deliver the goods, it’s Punchdrunk. So when tickets went on sale for Supercinema’s Moulin Rouge, we dutifully purchased ours. I selected to dress as the Absinthe Fairy, Gareth as a Bohemian and Ally in all black. A few weeks later, the dress code changed from Moulin Rouge to a more generic Parisian Masquerade, but I was assured the original costume options would still apply, so a sequinned green dress and fairy wings were soon acquired, and our excitement started to grow.

We arrived around 6pm, and were quickly ushered up to The Heath – I had dined here back in 2014, but had forgotten quite how special a venue it was. We were seated right at the front, next to the stage, and next to a lovely couple of girls who had flown in from Las Vegas – having never seen the show before – for the occasion. The food was excellent, the company was wonderful, and the wine and tequila were flowing. Nick Atkinson and Elizabeth Romanski were fabulous hosts, treating us to a couple of songs and plenty of laughs, and our meal was punctuated by a short dance piece in two halves by the Paisley Players – featuring some of my favourite performers, in particular my Stephanie Crousillat (my Bald Witch from the previous night), and Evelyn Chen whom I’d hoped to see more of. I’m glossing over this as it’s hard to describe, but it was perfect for the Parisian theme.

But before long, it was showtime…

Knowing that the show would be full of party-goers, I had decided not to do anything too important in this show, but rather to dart between characters that I wanted to get to know better and fill in some of the blanks in loops I had only partially seen. I spent my evening almost entirely in the town, flitting between Speakeasy, Fulton, Taxidermist, and Agnes with a few moments with the Witches and Hecate. While this wasn’t my most fulfilling show (as I tend to be loop loyal rather than dart around like this), I did catch some lovely moments, including seeing a lot more of Fulton, and realising that he’s hiding in plain sight in the shadowy walls of the town, or watching Macbeth from behind the box maze into the speakeasy. I joined Speakeasy (Nick Bruder) for a while, and he’s one of the more fun Speakeasies I’ve followed – I enjoyed my shot of water nearly as much as my shot of whiskey! I then headed through to follow the Taxidermist (Doug Burkhardt) and, typically, joined him just as he went off for a 1:1, but came back a few minutes later and followed him for a short while, but before long, realised we were going downstairs. It was only the end of loop 2, but we were going to the banquet? I was trying to work out if I’d drunk more than I realised and miscalculated, but no – it was a 2 loop show. And I had unfinished business with the Taxidermist…

I watched the finale from my new spot at the side, and Duncan took my arm and led me to the Manderley, wishing me a Happy New Year with a kiss. And then the party began…

I won’t go into too much detail, as I could never do it justice, but WHAT A PARTY!

Entertainment spanned 4 floors, and many of the iconic sets – they did an incredible job turning it around from show to party so quickly! We started in the ballroom, where a range of Punchdrunk dancers joined a fab singer and entertained us on the main stage, hosted by Nick Atkinson. The balcony featured a photo booth, the Porter’s lobby was transformed into another bar with a live band, yet another band was playing in the Manderley, then up on the 3rd floor a brass-led band played in Macbeth’s bedroom while guests posed for photos in the bathtub, and some of the performers acted out a great little original scene on a purpose built stage in the adjacent space. A further climb up onto the 4th floor led us into the town, where a kind of anti-Fulton (Sam Asa-Pratt) and another character were inhabiting some of the shops and acting out short scenes while guests took photos in the street and some were lucky enough to have their portrait painted. If you want to get a real feel for how they party at the McKittrick however, you really need to check out their gallery from the evening, but I’ve included a few of my favourites below.

We partied til the wee small hours, checking out all the floors, chatting with wonderful people including cast members Jenna and Emily, Punchdrunk superfan and blogger extraordinaire Dee Anne and my new queue friends Steffi, Sabrina and Morgan, and taking advantage of the open bar. When Ally and I finally left, we were given one final treat – the most fabulously festive Uber – we tipped our driver SO well as a thanks for the crazy decorations and free sweets!

So this might be the best New Year’s Eve I will ever have. And it’s put us in the mood for one of their Halloween parties…