A guide to surviving New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve. My liver huddles up against my spleen and whimpers at the mere mention of it. Come out, you lily-livered coward. I need you now more than ever.

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 stick with the liver, shall we?

To be honest, and I think honesty is important at a time like this, I have felt uncomfortable about making a huge thing out of December 31 ever since discovering that the Gregorian 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 Liver

There is one school of thought that says the liver is the human body’s largest and most complex organ. This is generally the opinion of everyone who hasn’t seen me naked. Yes, Mrs Worthington of Margate, I’m talking about you.

An unsightly and consequently rather shy organ, the liver is one of the few parts of the body that are 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, alcohol and nicotine 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. What’s this? Tetrahydrocannibanol, eh? You’re coming with me. I’m going to detoxify and neutralise all the goodness out of you. Bastard.

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 31st as the night upon which the faithful and the faithless join hands in drunken revelry, he probably never had roadblocks in mind.

               Roadblocks

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, most 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 be remorselessly 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 psychos on tik, then that is our choice. If you prefer to spend your New Year’s Eve clutching a glass of warm Pepsi and getting all misty eyed over ridiculous songs like Auld Lang Syne, then stay at 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.

Fact is, even if you haven’t touched a drop all night and then you kiss someone whose blood alcohol level is above 00000.01, this would put you over the limit and you will be dragged behind the police caravan, pistol-whipped and read the last rites in a language you don’t understand.

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.

Also what you can 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.

You may be asked to provide a urine sample. “But I just went,” is not a valid excuse. What you need to do is invest in a fake penis. Adult World is full of them. Or so I have heard. Drill a hole down the middle of it and fill it with your dog’s urine. The cop will be so impressed by the size of your willy that he will shake you by the hand and send you on your way.

               Medical Treatment

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 have anything to do with state hospitals this evening. The doctors 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 piece of cake if you have a fish hook and a piece of gut. If you don’t at least have that in the boot of your car, you’re not a real South African and you deserve to be deported.

Carry a roll of bubble wrap in your car. The moment your girlfriend gets the wobblies,  wrap it around her. She won’t hurt herself when she plummets off the north face of her bar stool and the rest of the bar will join you in a game of Popping The Drunk.

If someone loses an eye, ask the barman for a glass of ice and stick it in there. It will be good for 24 hours.

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, rush to the nearest restaurant and order a steak.

Right, that’s it. In the immortal words of Pope Gregory, “Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.”

Relax, officer

’Tis almost the season to be jolly. Jolly careful. There are people out there determined to get us locked up over the festive season. Family, for a start. There’s always one asshole relative who insists on pushing our buttons until we lunge across the dinner table and club him to death with a chicken drumstick.

Should you be driven to this point, it’s likely that you will be filled with spirits stronger than the Christmas one. Even an attempted homicide generally requires a liberal application of the old social lubricant. If it weren’t for alcohol, we would all meekly go along with tradition and kiss rather than stab our racist cousins under the mistletoe.

In South Africa, as in most parts of the Christian world, we drink to celebrate Christmas. It’s what Jesus would have wanted. He did, after all, turn water into wine when the liquor ran out at a wedding in Galilee. This was his first public miracle and, quite frankly, I don’t know why he even bothered with the other six. You turn water into wine, you’ll have to get a restraining order to stop me from following you. I suppose it was also a nice gesture to heal the paralytic at Bethesda. Did he do the wine trick there, too? Quite possibly. I get very paralytic on wine but then have to heal myself. Jesus is never there when I need him.

Today there is always plenty of wine at weddings and everyone gets thoroughly trashed to commemorate his miracle on that hot summer’s day in the unoccupied territories. The heathens don’t care much for miracles and only join in because the liquor is free. In the end it all works out and everyone goes home happy.

Oh, wait. Not in Cape Town, they don’t. This is a city that goes the extra mile to ensure we spend a night or three on a horsehair mattress in a filthy cell rather than our own bedroom.

There is no mention in the Bible of a single wedding guest getting bust at a roadblock in Galilee, even though the cops must have got wind that someone was turning water into wine. If the DA had been in charge of the city, Jesus himself might have spent the night behind bars.

I have never been done for DUI. Have I driven over the legal limit? Of course I have. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. Virtually every car you see parked outside a bar, restaurant or club will later that evening be driven by someone over the limit. Sure, there might be one or two designated drivers among the crowd, but these are like unicorns.

It is the job of the barman to keep serving you alcohol even as it leaks from every orifice in your body, which makes no sense when you consider that it takes just two beers to put you over the limit. I need two beers just to get out of bed in the afternoon. Not really. My point is that the city of Cape Town’s obsession with roadblocks is ruining our social lives. Everyone is too terrified to go out at night for fear of ending up with a criminal record or having their bottom interfered with by a fighting general in the 28s.

Thanks to the police, it’s just not safe to be on the roads at night.

99.9% of people who regularly drive after a few social drinks manage to do so without veering into oncoming traffic or slamming into a lamppost. They might be breaking the law, but they get home quite safely without endangering their or anyone else’s life. And they have been doing it for years.

In Britain and America, police generally need a reasonable suspicion to suspect a driver is intoxicated before requesting a breath test. In many countries you’re given three tests, including standing on one leg and walking heel to toe in a straight line. If you fail all three, you get breathalysed. Fair enough. We don’t get that option here. I might be marginally over the limit, but if I can close my eyes and touch my nose or the cop’s nose or any other body part of his choosing, followed by an arabesque and two grand jetés on the white line, I should be allowed to proceed unhindered.

In the US, thirteen states currently disallow sobriety checkpoints while others require police to provide advance warning of any checkpoints that are planned. That’s right. They have to take out notices in local newspapers notifying people where and when the roadblocks will happen.

Look, I’m not endorsing drunk driving, but I am asking the law to be a little more flexible when it comes to ever-so-slightly-tipsy driving. Nail the heavily wasted, by all means, but stop ruining the lives of the lightly euphoric.

If things carry on as they are, we might as well move to Saudi Arabia.

Or, worse, Australia.