I didn’t win a free trip to Sydney. I’ll write more about that soon, but for now the details are unimportant. What’s important is this: on Thursday, after the news was announced, we decided to un-celebrate with a pint in the Rusty Bicycle. Some people might call it “drowning your sorrows”, but I was in a celebratory mood. After all, it had been several months of hard work and anticipation, and good things (including a hamper full of Australian junk food) had come of it. Moreover, it’s Autumn, and there’s nothing nicer on a chilly October evening than to have a glass of cider by the radiator in your local. There’s something about the slow and inevitable descent of these months into darkness and ice that makes me want to play with time–I feel constantly as if I both want things to speed up and slow down, as if I need more hours in the day and to rush through the damp mood that comes over me when the leaves start to fall. The only appropriate place to think thoughts like that is at the pub.
When the pub closed we walked the 20 yards home and invited a friend in for a pre-bed cup of tea. But by the time we’d got to the kitchen we’d all decided we didn’t want tea. The only other option was the bottle of elderflower champagne I’d bought in Devon to celebrate the successful completion of my MA. The problem with buying a bottle of booze for a specific reason, of course, is that you then let it sit around, certain that no moment is special enough to warrant opening it. And here we were, a month later, the unopened bottle on the rack reminding me of the uncelebrated occasion; here we were without a free trip to Sydney, with time doing dances around us and the trees in the garden getting naked.
So we opened it, for no good reason. Which in a way is the perfect way to celebrate. On cold Thursday night, after midnight, with your alarm already set for work and no particular worries or ambitions weighing you down. In coats and hats we sat outside and drained our glasses, and of course the elderflower champagne didn’t taste as delicious as it was supposed to, but made us deliciously light-headed anyway. Then we ate the rest of the sausages I’d made for dinner, and spread cheese on stale Ryvita, and plotted and planned.
Could I have arranged a better way to mark the completion of a degree than this? Elderflower champagne, autumnal chills, conversation, creative energy, and the birth of a potentially very exciting idea. How’s that for an un-celebration?