I have felt uncomfortable about making a big thing out of December 31 ever since discovering that our calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Catholics have done some truly appalling things over the ages and for all I know the calendar is one of them.
The Anno Domini system, which counts years from the death of Jesus, spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Big deal. A lot of things spread through Europe during the Middle Ages. The Black Death, for one, yet you hardly ever see anyone walking around with a long face moaning about the good old days when the plague was all the rage, so why should we continue using a calendar wielded by organised religion as a propaganda tool in the name of … ah, forget it. Let’s move on to more important matters.
An unsightly and consequently rather shy organ, the liver is one of the few parts of the body that is prepared to suffer in relative silence. The poor could learn a thing or two from the liver. It must be said, however, that the liver is not as perfect as it likes to think. For starters, it takes its job way too seriously. The heart, on the other hand, knows how to have a bit of fun. It speeds up, slows down, murmurs to itself, does an Irish jig, stops altogether and then, just when you think you’re dead, starts up again. It is an impish organ that understands the art of comedic timing.
Simply put, the liver does not know how to have a good time. I find this odd, considering the amount of drugs and alcohol that pass through it on an average Friday night.
Perhaps it’s not so strange. If we want to be really unkind, the liver is little more than the body’s policeman. It’s a sullen cop manning a permanent roadblock. Tetrahydrocannibanol, eh? You’re coming with me. I’m going to detoxify and neutralise all the goodness out of you. Bastard organ.
But there is more to surviving New Year’s Eve than merely letting your liver know that it’s not the boss of you.
When Pope Gregory established December 31 as the night upon which the faithful and the faithless join hands in drunken revelry, he probably never had roadblocks in mind.
When I am president, and I will be one day, I shall give every police officer the night off on New Year’s Eve. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to party with the rest of us? After all, cops are people, too. Well, some of them are. Sort of.
All I ask for is one night of the year in which we can go out without worrying about getting slammed up against a van full of snarling dogs, cavity searched and tossed into a stinking cell to have our bottoms ravaged by a diseased convict. Is it too much to ask that we be allowed one night free of fear?
We are all adults, apart from those who aren’t, and if we are prepared to take our chances with motherless drivers, desperate divorcees and sundry psychos, then that is our choice. If you prefer to spend your New Year’s Eve clutching a glass of warm rosé and getting all misty eyed over maudlin rubbish like Auld Lang Syne, then stay home. By going out and expecting Mr Plod to keep you safe, you are ruining it for the rest of us.
Since I am not yet president, we have to face the reality that state-appointed arbiters of appropriate behaviour will be out there looking to ruin our lives and reputations. As if we can’t do that all by ourselves.
Roadblocks can be dealt with in several ways. One is to slip into the passenger seat and tell the officer that your driver ran away. The officer may wish to attach electrodes to your testicles to determine the veracity of your story, but, unless you enjoy that sort of thing, you should remind him that the constitution frowns on torture.
Do not attempt this if there are two of you in the car. Police are trained to spot suspicious behaviour and there is nothing more suspicious than an empty driver’s seat and someone sitting on your lap in the passenger seat.
What you can also do is pretend to have a speech impediment. Most cops treat the disabled marginally better than they do the rest of us. But don’t lean out of the window and say, “Good afterble consternoon.” That is a speech impeded by vodka shooters as opposed to, say, blunt trauma to the head.
I used to get stopped a lot before I became a master of disguise and the cops would always ask me why my eyes were so red. “I have pterygiums, officer,” I would say, opening my eyes as big as they would go without me passing out. Cops don’t want to take your statement knowing they are going to have to ask you to spell whatever the hell it was that you said you had.
A basic knowledge of First Aid is essential for anyone who plans on celebrating New Year’s Eve properly. There will be injuries and you need to be prepared. Under no circumstances do you want to encounter a state hospital this evening. The doctors will have been working for nine straight days and the nurses earn R2.50 an hour. They will not share your sense of humour no matter how much you laugh and poke your finger into your gaping head wound.
Stitches are a piece of cake if you have a fishhook, a length of gut and a half-jack of brandy. If you don’t have at least that in the boot of your car, you’re not a real South African and deserve to be deported.
If you lose an eye, ask the barman for a glass of ice and pop it in there. It will be good for 24 hours so you need not stop partying.
Avoid amputations because they can be messy if you don’t have access to serviettes. A lot of people complain of severed limbs but if you look closely you will often find their leg bent behind their head.
Open heart surgery is easily conducted with a bottle of whisky and a steak knife. If you don’t have a knife, go to the nearest restaurant and order a steak.
A lot of people will be falling down tonight. The first thing you need to do when coming across someone on the ground is to ascertain whether they are drunk or dying. If the person is not breathing, it is your moral duty to attempt to revive them. It is not your moral duty to take their cellphone and quickly walk away.
There are a number of medically acceptable methods you can use to verify whether someone is still alive. First, check if there is a pulse. This can be done by lightly resting two fingers on his wrist or neck. If the person is a woman, you may check for a pulse by removing her bra and cupping one of her breasts in your hand. If she is not dead, she will let you know right away.
If there is no sign of a heartbeat, remove your jacket and roll up your sleeves. If you are on your way to work and you have a packed lunch, grab a quick bite to eat. It will give you the energy you need to bring this person back to life.
When you have finished eating, poke a stick down their throat to check that their air passage is not blocked. If there are no sticks lying about, go back to your car and fetch the dipstick from your engine. The oil will help it slide down the trachea.
Next, block their nose, cover their mouth with yours and blow as hard as you can. Try not to get aroused. You want to feel their lungs inflating like footballs. While you are blowing, hammer on their chest with your fist. After two minutes of punching and blowing, stop for a break. There is no point in giving yourself a heart attack. During your break, slap them around the head and shout, “Live, damn you! Live!” This won’t do much for the victim but it does make it more entertaining for the crowd.
If you are successful, you will notice the person beginning to breathe on their own. Ask someone to call the media. There is no point in saving someone’s life if only a few people know about it. If the person tries to get up before a journalist arrives, make sure they bump their head against the pavement and knock themselves out.
If your efforts are unsuccessful and the person dies, get someone to take a photograph of you with your foot on their chest. Later, you can tell your friends that you killed a mugger with your bare hands. Alive or dead, either way you look like a hero.
Right, that’s it. In the words of the great philosopher Homer Simpson: “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”